Atlanta Hawks star a name to ‘keep an eye on’ in Suns trade rumors

Atlanta Hawks. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Atlanta Hawks. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

Time heals all wounds and, in the NBA, can make once unpalatable contract palatable.

For the Atlanta Hawks, having John Collins going into the third year of a five-year, $125 million contract apparently sounds a lot better to potential suitors than it did in Year 1 of that deal.

“Two names to keep an eye on in Phoenix’s trade pursuits: Atlanta Hawks forward John Collins and Boston Celtics guard Malcolm Brogdon,” wrote Yahoo Sports NBA insider Jake Fischer on June 16. “Brogdon and Collins are a pair of players Phoenix has registered interest in during trade conversations with Boston and Atlanta, respectively, that date back to the trade deadline.”

Phoenix was previously said to have little interest in taking on the remainder of Collins’ contract per Shams Charania of The Athletic (subscription required) in December. At the time, there was still over $100 million owed to the former No. 19 overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, Collins.

Collins then went on to have one of if not the worst season of his career.

He averaged 13.1 points and 6.5 rebounds while also struggling to shoot from deep, connecting on just 29.2% of his triples.

There are still three years and over $78 million remaining on Collins’ contract but the interest in acquiring him has undoubtedly picked up this offseason and even dating back to this past trade deadline when the Hawks held exploratory trade talks with the New Orleans Pelicans while the Cleveland Cavaliers, Indiana Pacers, and Utah Jazz have all been linked to the big man.

Atlanta general manager Landry Fields has maintained that the Hawks value Collins.

Still, Collins’ name has continued to pop up in various trade rumors – the Hawks are said to have held talks with the Brooklyn Nets and Dallas Mavericks too, though the latter did not get very far.

He has also been said to be open to being traded after years of speculation and a diminishing role in the offense.

After having his best season in 2019-20 averaging 21.6 points and 10.1 rebounds while knocking down 40.1% of his looks from beyond the arc. His numbers have steadily declined since then culminating in a career-low usage rate last year all while continuing to be bandied about in trade rumors.

What the Atlanta Hawks could get back from the Phoenix Suns for John Collins

Per a report from David Aldridge and Josh Barrett of The Athletic (subscription required), the Suns are prepared to offer either center Deandre Ayton or a package of point guard Chris Paul and swingman Landry Shamet for Washington Wizards star Bradley Beal.

Those are really the only pieces that could return anything of value after they traded a bevy of first-round picks and players to the Brooklyn Nets for Kevin Durant.

Under those parameters, a deal landing Ayton makes the most sense.

Ayton, 24, averaged 18.0 points, 10.0 rebounds, and 1.7 assists this past season. He signed an offer sheet with the Indiana Pacers last offseason before the Suns matched it but his time in Phoenix has been marred by inconsistency and butting heads with former head coach Monty Williams whose departure could create a pathway toward the big man remaining in place.

He would be teaming up with fellow 2018 NBA Draft member Trae Young if a deal did come to fruition.

Ayton is heading into the second year of a four-year, $132.9 million contract.

Shamet, 26, is already a journeyman after suiting up for four different teams in five NBA seasons, averaging 8.7 points, 2.3 assists, and 1.7 rebounds while shooting 37.7% from deep for Phoenix in 2022-23.

He is heading into the second year of a four-year, $42.5 million contract that has a $11.5 million club option in the final season.

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The obvious question that arises is how interested the Suns are in giving up the same package they would for Beal for Capela and Collins.