The Atlanta Hawks‘ offseason has been rather polarizing. Their blockbuster trade for Dejounte Murray raised expectations and eyebrows around the league. They followed that up by trading Kevin Huerter while also seeing four other veteran bench options walk out the door for other teams including rivals.
What they have not done to this point despite ample signs and chatter that they would, is trade John Collins.
Collins has been mired in trade talks for two years now.
But the Hawks have maintained a high asking price in return for the 6-foot-9 forward, hinting that they know what they have even if it doesn’t seem to be as long-term of an arrangement as his contract would indicate.
John Collins stands to be Atlanta Hawks’ “most essential” play finisher
“Players who find themselves in trade rumors over a series of years usually end up getting moved, or signs elsewhere,” argues Forbes’ Morten Jensen. “One team, however, should do everything in its power to change course, especially after the summer they just had.”
Landing Murray has been called the “move of the summer” by some while some rival execs have blasted the cost of the move.
But Jensen argues that a different highly-rumored potential Hawks move shouldn’t happen.
“For a player like Collins, who isn’t one to create his own shot, but fares well when set up, he now stands a great chance at becoming Atlanta’s most essential end-target. While Young, a known producer of points, is still likely to lead the team in scoring, the threat of Collins wrecking havoc off the attention defenses will give to Young and Murray is frankly intoxicating.”
Jensen cites Collins’ 55.9% mark from the floor in his career as well as his 37.5% rate from beyond the arc.
Nearly 83% of Collins’ made field goals were assisted last season.
“With the Hawks now having built arguably the league’s most potent backcourt, it’d be a waste to not surround them with players who can make things happen. Collins is already there, but recent history suggests the Hawks haven’t prioritized him the way they should. This is their chance to rectify that situation and once and for all cement Collins as a huge piece of their identity, and their plans, going forward.”
For all of the handwringing over Collins’ usage rate (20.2%) being at its lowest since his rookie season, it was much closer to his 2021 (21.4%) than his rookie year (17.9%).
Jensen also notes that the remainder of Collins’ five-year, $125 million contract will look better as the salary cap increases. He adds that would make it easier to find a taker for the oft-rumored big man.
But he warns that the Hawks would only hurt themselves by continuing to underutilize him.
He says it would be a “mistake” to move him and that, instead, the Hawks should “empower” their big man before someone else does.
“It’s not just the right thing to do for a player that talented, it should also genuinely help the Hawks become less reliable on Young, and make their offense one of the most potent in the NBA. It’s time to flip the narrative, and it starts now with committing to Collins.”
That might already be underway with Collins joining Murray and Trae Young in pro-am action this summer which would seem like a pretty strong show of support.