Here we go again, the same story as the last two years. In what has become an annual occurrence, the Atlanta Hawks have opened up what Shams Charania of The Athletic (subscription required) termed “preliminary trade discussions” around forward John Collins whom they signed to a five-year, $125 million contract just two offseasons ago.
Despite that expensive commitment – which was given with hesitation – Collins has been mentioned in trade rumors as he has seen his role in Atlanta decrease in each of the last three years.
However, all the tell-tale warning signs we have been monitoring are pointing in one direction.
John Collins back on the trade block as Atlanta Hawks engage in discussions
Per Charania, the Hawks have received interest from the Phoenix Suns in the 25-year-old Collins but are not too keen on taking back the remaining $102 million on his deal including this season. Some believe Phoenix’s notorious wait for center Deandre Ayton was so he would receive an outside offer allowing them to avoid giving him a max contract.
The Hawks have also had a reported interest in disgruntled veteran Suns forward Jae Crowder who has been away from the team as both sides work on a resolution to his wanting to get out of Phoenix.
There is no way the Hawks swap Collins for Crowder straight-up anyway. The need for more compensation further complicates the possibility of a deal coming to fruition there.
But Charania reports that there are “teams” inquiring, the Suns are just one of them.
Collins is fourth on the Hawks averaging 12.6 points per game – the lowest since his rookie season – on a career-low 57.4% true shooting and 16.2% usage rate, also a career-low for a player who once averaged 21 points and 10 boards for an entire season. Collins has been vocal about his declining presence in Atlanta’s offense.
During the summer, Collins showed his typical strong connection with Young as well as a budding bond with Murray.
The transition appeared to be aided by both Murray and Young being exceptional playmakers.
But Collins has also had to deal with Clint Capela and De’Andre Hunter being healthy. Capela has said he is finally healthy after dealing with an Achilles injury for the last two seasons and it is showing.
He’s averaging fewer shots on the year but just had a six-game stretch in which he averaged 10.8 FGAs per game which would be the third-most in his career over an entire season.
Hunter is attempting 1.8 more shots per game en route to a career-best 15.5 points per game.
With his 7.7 rebounds and 0.9 assists also representing a dip – while he has turned the ball over at a two-year high rate – Collins is not necessarily making a strong case to be the cornerstone his contract suggests in the stat sheet. But, whenever you turn on a Hawks game, it is impossible to overlook his energy and effort
That is nothing to sneeze at for a team that looked mostly listless while getting blown out by the Boston Celtics at home.
Charania concludes by saying that there is no deal imminent for Crowder or anyone else at the moment adding that a deal could take all the way until the deadline to consummate. Who knows, maybe this time a deal will finally go down.