The Atlanta Hawks (21-22) are mired in controversy these days. Be it their decisions on the court or behind the scenes, nothing they do seems to fly under the radar and, unfortunately, very little of it has been positive. That would include their 114-105 loss to the Milwaukee Bucs even though they were down two starters including Trae Young.
Of course, their two-game win streak could certainly be the start of something that can fuel them for the rest of the season.
That doesn’t mean they won’t continue to be in trade talks, particularly when it comes to their embattled big man, John Collins, who has been on the trade block for the last two-plus years despite signing a five-year, $125 million contract.
This latest hypothetical deal would send him to an Eastern Conference rival in a tricky spot.
Atlanta Hawks would land Pacers swingman Chris Duarte with this trade
“The Pacers had marked second-year guard Chris Duarte off-limits in trade conversations with some opposing personnel…Indiana has since made the 25-year-old available in recent dialogue,” writes Yahoo! Sports NBA insider Jake Fischer. “Indiana has internally discussed the prospect of adding Collins.”
Indiana has been linked to Collins before by Fischer who previously noted the Pacers’ desire to add a power forward to the roster. They were projected to be among the many tanking teams this season but find themselves one spot ahead of the Hawks in the East standings.
Duarte was drafted 13th overall last year – seven picks ahead of Hawks forward Jalen Johnson – and earned his way onto the All-Rookie team.
This season has been a starkly different story as his numbers have fallen right along with his playing time. The 6-foot-6 Duarte is averaging 7.0 points on 45.4% true shooting and, after knocking down a hair under 37% from beyond the arc as a rookie last season, he has connected on under 28% of his triples this year.
He did drop 25 points and hit 4-of-9 triples against the Memphis Grizzlies in a win last outing.
In many ways, it is a similar situation to Collins’ who is three months younger than Duarte despite being drafted four years earlier. The former’s statistical dip has been well-documented with his usage reaching career-low rates this season.
But Collins has averaged 16.3 points on 58.4% true shooting with 8.8 boards, 1.4 blocks, and nearly 1.0 assists per game over his last 10 games.
He also had the game-winning tip in the Hawks’ 113-111 win over the Pacers on January 13.
Fischer notes that Indiana is currently slated to have three first-round picks in the 2023 NBA Draft. The immediacy of that return could be enough to overcome the clear drop in talent going from Collins to Duarte which presents another problem. The Hawks have reportedly lowered their asking price per Sam Amick of The Athletic.
But they have also been previously said to desire a starting-level power forward to replace Collins. They have second-year forward Jalen Johnson but he is not ready to be relied upon to that extent at this point in his career.
If the goal is simply to move Collins, the Hawks could agree to this deal (or a similar one) getting a player under control and shaving something off their bottom line.
Indiana doesn’t have to match salaries due to their cap space.
It just seems they should hold out for more or try to find some way to make it work with Collins which has not happened thus far.