The Atlanta Hawks front office does not have a lot of experience but they are aggressive.
“The Mavericks are considering options to move down from No. 10 into the middle of the first round, wrote Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports on June 15. “The Mavericks and Hawks, for example, discussed the idea of swapping Dāvis Bertāns and the No. 10 pick for John Collins and the No. 15 selection…although those talks do not appear to have progressed at this time.”
Collins’ name has been bandied about in trade rumors for the last few seasons and the big man is said to be welcoming of a move, though it has been some time since there was word of an active request for one.
He is the longest-tenured player on the roster and is heading into the third year of a five-year, $125 million contract.
Hawks general manager Landry Fields acknowledged the interest in Collins during his exit interview on May 1. But the Hawks have maintained a high enough asking price to keep him in Atlanta – former team president Travis Schlenk is said to have turned down a deal that would have sent Collins elsewhere – while Fields has said they still value the versatile big man.
Collins, 25, is coming off arguably the worst season of his career.
He averaged 13.1 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 1.2 assists while his efficiency cratered to 43.3% overall and 29.2% from deep. He was able to find the bottom of the net more often in the postseason, hitting 34.4% of his threes.
His usage rate also hit a career-low and, with players like De’Andre Hunter among the starters and Jalen Johnson on the bench coming along, it’s hard to see a path to more shots for Collins.
Bertans, 30, averaged 4.6 points and 1.2 rebounds this past season and shot 39% from three-point range. He is heading into the fourth year of a five-year, $80 million contract that has a $16 million player option for the final season. Bertans is not an athlete to the level of Collins but he is a far more reliable three-point shooter at this point.
Atlanta is expected to shoot more threes next season under head coach Quin Snyder.
The Hawks are also more than $8 million over the luxury tax threshold and have to consider new deals for Dejounte Murray and Onyeka Okongwu, if not Saddiq Bey, soon enough as well.
This deal doesn’t fully get them there and would need some additional salary to even be legal. But it does shave more than $7 million off the bottom line while Bertans will come off the books one season earlier.
They could also look to move veterans Bogdan Bogdanovic or Clint Capela but the former cannot be traded until September while the latter has popped up on the radar of the Houston Rockets. After the Hawks gave up so much to get Murray, Collins remains the best path toward some real salary cap relief and acquiring some cheaper assets.
The Atlanta Hawks could jump into top 10 of 2023 NBA Draft
The Hawks have been predicted to land fast-rising international prospect Bilal Coulibaly.
He is a 6-foot-6 wing whose more famous teammate Victor Wembenyama is the presumed No. 1 overall pick. However, they are also said to have had an interest in Duke’s Dereck Lively II in recent weeks.
This deal could be a way for them to ensure they land one of the two or someone like Kansas swingman Gradey Dick who shot 40.3% from deep last season.
Fischer’s final note on things seemingly being at an impasse is more status quo than an actual update. Still, it’s worth noting that Collins still appears to be someone not long for the roster if the Hawks could simply find a taker which has been an issue because his play has declined right as the contract kicked in.
What they need is for a team to feel confident it can get Collins back to the player who averaged 21.6 points, 10.1 boards, and 1.6 blocks in 2019-20.