Former Hawks big man was floated in trade for two-time All-Star

Atlanta Hawks. Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports
Atlanta Hawks. Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports /

Despite the lack of splashy additions, the Atlanta Hawks have had a very busy offseason. But it could have unfolded much differently had one of their offers for star forward Pascal Siakam been accepted by the Toronto Raptors.

“Before when there was talks going on, John Collins was a part of some of those talks,” said Bleacher Report and Turner Sports NBA insider Chris Haynes on the ‘#thisleague UNCUT’ podcast on July 21. “He’s since been traded. Does Atlanta have anything Toronto would want at this stage?”

Collins has been one of the most hypothetically traded players in recent memory, having been mired in rumors for the better part of the last three seasons.

His inclusion is no surprise. But does show the trade they made was not their first choice.

Atlanta dealt Collins, 25, to the Utah Jazz for Rudy Gay – who might have been able to fill a significant role but has since been traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder – and a conditional second-round pick. They also generated a $25.3 million trade exception that expires in one year.

That is the equivalent of his 2023-24 salary and was seemingly a precursor to something bigger.

Since then, however, they have only added Patty Mills and Wesley Matthews as experienced veterans to the roster which leaves a sizeable void they still have to fill.

They also drafted Mouhamed Gueye and signed undrafted free agent Miles Norris to help the frontcourt. They still have several in-house options that they can go with at power forward, though their pursuit of Siakam and other power forwards could speak volumes about their faith in that route.

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So much so that they are seemingly willing to overlook a major concern among other prospective teams who might otherwise be lining up to acquire Siakam.

As an unrestricted free agent next offseason, he can leave for absolutely nothing.

“That’s the fear, and I think maybe that’s the hang-up as well, why this is taking so long,” Haynes continued. “There’s a good amount of teams that he would not do an extension with. So essentially that would be a one-year rental and teams don’t want to fork out all of their assets or present their best offers for a one-year rental player, even of the caliber of Pascal.”

Haynes speculated that Siakam will still be with the Raptors, at least to start the 2023-24 season.

Haynes’ co-host, Marc Stein of The Stein Line, noted that there is an “inherent skepticism” about the Raptors’ intentions because of how they have operated dating back to the trade deadline when several of their players were said to be on the block.

The Raptors stood pat then and could do so again.

Potential trade for Pascal Siakam a needed risk for Atlanta Hawks

The Hawks have Saddiq Bey and Jalen Johnson as their current options. Some would argue that Onyeka Okongwu should be considered as well but he has played less power forward every season and is still not a reliable enough shooter to play alongside Clint Capela for very long.

If the Hawks made a deal for an offensive-minded center, then perhaps Okongwu and that player can share the floor.

Bey is a solid-to-knockdown three-point shooter but is better suited as a 3 than a 4, having slotted in there more than 75% of the time this past season, per Cleaning The Glass. Johnson is bigger and is a former draft pick of the Hawks but has far less experience and is not the shooter his more-seasoned teammate is.

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The Hawks posted negative net ratings with either of them in Collins’ spot.