The Atlanta Hawks (25-26) have embarked on a five-game road trip, starting with the Portland Trail Blazer. It’s a notable matchup if for no other reason than this was a team once linked to beleaguered forward John Collins as a potential trade destination. General manager Landry Fields came out and made it clear the Hawks would not give Collins away.
He took it a step further saying that they are comfortable rolling the rest of the way with the longest-tenured member of the team. Still, the prevailing notion from the outside seems to be that both sides are more in on a trade than not.
There has been no shortage of ideas for what to the with the high-flying forward.
That has never been more true with additional teams being added to the list of suitors seemingly every day leading to a steady stream of potential deals.
3-Team proposed trade sends Atlanta Hawks star John Collins to East rival
“Myles Turner’s extension doesn’t guarantee that he starts next season in Indiana,” offers Dan Favale of Bleacher Report, “but if it is a nod toward the Pacers trying to re-accelerate their Eastern Conference position, then Collins is a fantastic buy-medium option.”
The Pacers and Turner agreed to a two-year, $60 million contract extension, seemingly ending a Collins-esque cycle of “will they or won’t they trade him”.
They are also a team that has registered interest in Collins before, per previous reports.
“Much is being made about the $78.5 million he’s owed over the next three years,” Favale acknowledges. “That number won’t seem so high in an environment that allows him to play the 4 on defense while functioning more like a 5 on offense…Atlanta won’t do much better if perception of Collins’ deal has truly cratered.”
Collins’ season-long slump has to be a thorn in trade conversations. The big man’s stats are down, not just to career-low levels in many areas, but they have also trended down for the third-straight season right along with his usage.
He had 16 points, six rebounds, and three assists in the Hawks’ loss to the Blazers.
Atlanta’s message of feeling comfortable with Collins on the roster for the rest of the season sounds great but might be more effective if they showcased him a little more.
“[Atlanta] increases big-picture wiggle room beneath the tax and balances out the rotation with a rock-solid reserve wing in Richardson. [Zach] Collins, meanwhile, can play alongside Clint Capela and Onyeka Okongwu or be the 5 himself. The first-rounder from Cleveland will be anywhere from the late teens to the mid-20s—compensation you couldn’t envision Collins going for two years ago, but a sweetener that feels eminently reasonable now.”
Again, Fields has been clear that he doesn’t view Collins as a salary dump in response to what has seemingly been teams wanting additional draft compensation for taking on the remainder of that contract.
It also doesn’t make much sense for the Hawks to part with Johnson whom they drafted 20th overall last season or Holiday who has played an important role at times.
This deal goes in the other direction but it is still fair to wonder if the return would be enough.
Zach Collins is a former 10th-overall pick, drafted nine slots ahead of John Collins in 2017. He is averaging a career-best 9.6 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 2.5 assists while shooting 37.1% from beyond the arc on limited volume but the 25-year-old’s biggest appeal to the Hawks is his three-year $22 million contract.
Veteran guard Josh Richardson, 29, 11.2 points 3.2 assists, and 2.7 rebounds for the rebuilding San Antonio Spurs on a one-year, $12.2 million pact.
The Collins trade saga is in Year 3. And, while there seems to be more steam building toward something getting done this time around, nothing is imminent and the Hawks – rightfully – continue to drive a hard bargain even if it may ultimately be posturing.