On the same day the Atlanta Hawks introduced their next generation of players, they sent their longest-tenured player out the door.
“In a deal that delivers the franchise some dramatic financial flexibility, the Atlanta Hawks are trading forward John Collins to the Utah Jazz,” wrote ESPN NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski on June 26. “The Hawks and Jazz have discussed numerous iterations of the deal for over a year.”
Wojnarowski went on to explain that the remaining balance of Collins’ five-year, $125 million contract – some $78-plus million over the next three seasons – essentially limited what the Hawks could get back. Surely their own efforts to move the 26-year-old forward for the last three years did them no favors either.
Collins — who was born in Layton, Utah — was the No. 19 overall pick in the 2017 NBA draft and has gone through all of the ups and downs in his Hawks career. He ascended to a 21-point, 10-rebound player in 2019-20 but saw his role dwindle from then on.
His foray into restricted free agency in the summer of 2021 only ended after the Hawks gave him his current contract despite a dearth of suitors.
We did learn that the Hawks and Jazz had re-ignited their trade talks in recent days.
The Atlanta Hawks continue making major changes
This offseason alone he had been floated in trade rumors involving the Dallas Mavericks, Indiana Pacers, and Phoenix Suns in addition to the Jazz. But Collins’ saga is seemingly the true signal of the end of an era.
Former Hawks head coach Lloyd Pierce, under whom Collins had the most success, was fired in 2020-21 and the person who drafted Collins – former team president Travis Schlenk – stepped down this past season. There was a faint hope that the change from Nate McMillan to Quin Snyder after the All-Star break could change the trajectory but Collins moves on.
So, how did both sides due in this pre-free agency blockbuster?