Despite prognostications of another blockbuster trade for the second consecutive offseason the Atlanta Hawks, their financial outlook could dictate a much tamer summer than anticipated.
They could have to go bargain shopping for improvements.
“If Atlanta uses its taxpayer midlevel exception, it should prioritize a frontcourt shooter who can improve its 30th-ranked long-range attempt rate,” argues Grant Hughes of Bleacher Report in an article from May 27 identifying ‘ambitious’ free agent targets for every team.
Hughes’ potential solution is Kevin Love, 35, the five-time All-Star and two-time All-NBA big man who began the season with the Cleveland Cavaliers but fell out of the rotation and was bought out in February. He joined the Miami Heat and helped to solidify their power forward rotation behind starter Caleb Martin.
Love also has a championship and rebounding crown to his credit.
But those accolades were earned some time ago – he has not made an All-Star team since the 2017-18 season – and saw his minutes reduced in Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals.
He averaged 7.7 points and 5.7 rebounds in 20 minutes per game across 21 appearances for the Heat, drawing seven starts along the way. Love’s three-point efficiency was wayward during the regular season as he hit just 29.7% of his deep looks.
However, he’s knocked down 36.8% of his threes in the postseason.
“Love could give Atlanta everything it needs in a 20-minute-per-game reserve, pairing perfectly with either Clint Capela or [Onyeka] Okongwu up front,” writes Hughes. ”Assuming Atlanta finally moves John Collins, there should be plenty of minutes available.”
A John Collins bounceback would make this unnecessary for the Atlanta Hawks
Collins shot 29.2% from deep range last season – the worst mark of his career. And while it has been easy to point to a finger injury suffered last season as the primary culprit, Collins’ three-point efficiency was on the decline for two seasons before taking such a sharp dip in 2022-23.
He does, however, have a 40.1% three-point shooting season to his credit to go along with a 21.6-point, 10.1-rebound campaign.
Collins is heading into the third year of a five-year, $125 million contract.
His name has been bandied about in trade rumors for three seasons but, given his statistical decline, it has made far more sense for the Hawks to hold onto him to this point. The conundrum is, if Collins regains the form to bring back the kind of return the Hawks’ front office may be seeking, he could prove too valuable to part with.
In many ways, Collins bouncing back would be a win-win situation. But it does highlight just how delicate situations can be in the NBA and for the Hawks team that figures to make some changes this offseason.