Atlanta Hawks GM breaks silence on John Collins trade

Atlanta Hawks. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Atlanta Hawks. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

There was plenty of speculation about why the Atlanta Hawks traded John Collins.

After the trade sending Collins to the Utah Jazz for forward Rudy Gay and a conditional second-round pick was made official on July 7, general manager Landry Fields provided clarity.

“Being able to create financial flexibility moving forward was a major priority for us,” Fields said in a statement released through the team. “The added flexibility will give us greater optionality as we look at opportunities to improve our team.”

Atlanta avoided the luxury tax and generated a $25.3 million trade exception that does not expire until next year with the deal. Collins, 25, was the longest-tenured player on the Hawks’ roster, drafted with the No. 19 overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft. He is under contract through the 205-26 season on a five-year, $125 million contract.

But his tenure had been trending in this direction since even before that deal was agreed to.

Collins’ role had diminished resulting in 13.1 points and 6.5 rebounds this past season for a player who averaged 21.6 points and 10.1 boards at his peak in 2019-20.

“John was a key contributor [to] our team over the past six seasons and played an instrumental role in helping us become a regular playoff contender,” Fields continued. “We would like to thank him for his professionalism and leadership over the years and we wish him the best in Utah.”

Hawks star Trae Young reacted to the trade of his former lob partner when it happened.

light. Related Story. Trae Young sends message Hawks trade John Collins to Jazz

The Hawks were 37-34 with Collins in the lineup (4-7 without) this past season and, despite being 50 games below .500 with him all-time, they were 97-91 with him active since the 2021 season when the team began trying to win. However, that is also the beginning of the downward trend in Collins’ usage.

Atlanta Hawks land Patty Mills from Oklahoma City Thunder

Despite already being more than $3 million below the luxury tax apron, Atlanta made another cost-cutting move, sending Gay along with youngsters Usman Garuba and TyTy Washington as well as a second-round pick to the Oklahoma City Thunder for Patty Mills on July 8, per ESPN NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski.

They had just announced the trade to acquire Gay on July 7.

Mills, 34, averaged 6.2 points, 1.4 assists, and 1.1 rebounds in a limited role off the Brooklyn Nets’ bench this past season. But he averaged 18.0 points, 4.0 assists, and 4.0 rebounds in two starts while shooting 37.6% from beyond the arc as a reserve.

He figures to serve as a much-needed veteran presence in a backcourt that is led by Young (24), Dejounte Murray (26) and added a rookie in Kobe Bufkin in the draft this offseason.

If he is around that is.

“Mills has been traded three times in the past 10 days, beginning with Brooklyn to Houston, Houston to Oklahoma City and now on to Atlanta,” wrote Wojnarowski. “His $6.8 million expiring contract fits into deals to make salaries match up, and Atlanta is still deciding whether he’ll be a part of its preseason roster, sources said.”

Next. Hawks land pair of former 1st-round picks from Rockets. dark

Now with two open roster slots, we will have to wait and see what further dealings the Hawks may have in store. They never announced the deal to acquire Garuba and Washington from the Houston Rockets and this deal could still be altered as well.