The Atlanta Hawks have been clear that they value six-year veteran forward John Collins whom they signed to a five-year $125 million contract ahead of the 2021-22 season. But they have never quite come close to emphatically excluding his name from trade rumors.
After two-plus years of trade speculation, a coaching change to Quin Snyder could be just the shift needed to push a trade over the finish line.
And the Los Angeles Lakers could be just the team needed to help make it happen.
“Collins is a distressed asset,” wrote Grant Hughes of Bleacher Report in a May 20 article identifying ‘ambitious’ trade targets for every team. “But if Los Angeles wants someone who can sop up frontcourt minutes so Anthony Davis and LeBron James can rest next season, he’s a better candidate than anyone currently under contract.”
Hughes notes Collins’ wayward three-point shot this past season – just 29.2%, the lowest of his career – and how the Hawks struggled to the tune of a minus-1.1 net rating when he manned the pivot during the regular season, per Cleaning The Glass.
But the 25-year-old Collins still posted the third-best net rating on the Hawks in the postseason.
Versatile big man Mo Bamba, 25, only made nine appearances for the Lakers after being traded from the Orlando Magic in a four-team deal at the deadline.
After averaging 6.6 points and 4.6 rebounds in this injury-stunted season, he has seen just 10 minutes of floor time in the postseason since being cleared to return and has not played since the Lakers’ blowout 40-point victory over the Memphis Grizzlies in the opening round of the playoffs.
He’s heading into the final year of his two-year, $20.6 million contract.
Swingman Malik Beasley, 25, has gotten similar treatment to Bamba this postseason, logging over 600 minutes but accumulating most of them early on in the playoffs and seeing fewer than six minutes in each of his four appearances since Game 3 of the second round.
Beasley averaged 12.7 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 1.5 assists this past season and would need his $16.5 million club option picked up to complete the deal.
That pick will also be toward the back end of the first round, hardly a must-have spot.
Winds of Change Around the Atlanta Hawks and Los Angeles Lakers
This deal would have seemed unthinkable just a year or so ago with Anthony Davis preferring to play power forward.
Davis logged virtually all of his minutes at center this past season, however.
Still, the Lakers have been linked to Dallas Mavericks free agent Kyrie Irving and could prefer to let the group they assembled at the deadline jell over the offseason before shaking things up again.
Atlanta seems to simply be waiting for the right deal to come along, and this could be it.
The Lakers suffered a sweep at the hands of the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference Finals which could spur more changes for them this offseason.
Atlanta pushed the Eastern Conference Semi-Finalist Boston Celtics to six games but that series loss – coupled with Boston getting manhandled by the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals – could lead the Hawks to look for a more win-now return for Collins who is the longest-tenured player on the roster.