The more things have changed, the more some expect them to stay the same in many regards for the Atlanta Hawks. Their blockbuster trade for Dejounte Murray has seemingly set them up for a deeper run in the postseason than they had last year when they bowed out in five games of the first round.
But many also feel they are some ways away from being a perennial contender for even a conference championship.
That has left the door open for speculation over future trades in league circles.
This – along with the Hawks’ actions – has kept John Collins’ name in the rumor mill as a trade candidate. He has been bandied about in such scenarios for the better part of the last two years and that could continue even as it has grown quiet for now.
League insiders still expect another trade for the Atlanta Hawks
“Collins popped up in trade rumors this summer,” writes Bleacher Report’s Greg Swartz, “and the Hawks built a package around him in an offer to try and get Kevin Durant from the Brooklyn Nets. Despite his success with the franchise thus far, Collins’ usage rate has dropped each of the past four seasons and should only continue to fall now with Dejounte Murray on board.”
To be fair, Collins’ usage rate was just 1.7% lower last season than it was in 2021. But his assist percentage was 8.9%, the highest that it has been in four seasons. And, while the Hawks did add Murray, Collins is still expected to be an extremely important part of their attack if he stays.
Murray did average a near triple-double with 9.2 assists last season while Trae Young led the league in total assists.
Collins is already a favorite target for Young’s passes and should be for Murray as well.
“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, suggested Morton Jensen for Forbes. “While Young, a known producer of points, is still likely to lead the team in scoring, the threat of Collins wreaking havoc off the attention defenses will give to Young and Murray is frankly intoxicating.”
Yet there is still an outside expectation for the Hawks to look to further consolidate some of their assets even after their flurry of moves this summer.
Collins is once again a prime candidate to be unloaded.
“There was a time where I thought it was almost a guarantee that John Collins was going to get traded,” said Brian Windhorst on “The Hoop Collective” podcast. “Not only has he not been traded, but the Hawks made one of the big offseason moves trading for Dejounte Murray…They are still a very deep team that can both potentially use some of those assets…in a trade…There still is the ability for the Hawks…to improve this roster.”
Windhorst did say that he expects any move to be made during the regular season and not before.
Whenever it happens, if Collins is involved, Swartz believes he should be highly sought after.
“There should be plenty of teams interested in a 24-year-old athletic big who can shoot at a high level, especially one under a guaranteed contract for the next three years.”
No team has stepped up to meet the Hawks’ admittedly high asking price of a starting-caliber power forward and draft compensation to this point. Perhaps he is more appealing one year into his five-year. $125 million deal.
But Collins has also played with Murray and Young in pro-ams, building chemistry for the upcoming season.
It is still hard to see the Hawks moving off of him — or Bogdan Bogdanovic whom Windhorst also named — if the Hawks’ gamble pays off once the regular season begins, especially if it looks similar to how it did on the pro-am circuit.