John Collins Rumors: 'Optimism' Hawks Can Sign PF to Contract Before Free Agency

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVJuly 30, 2021

CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA - JANUARY 09: John Collins #20 of the Atlanta Hawks reacts following a three point basket during the first quarter of their game against the Charlotte Hornets at Spectrum Center on January 09, 2021 in Charlotte, North Carolina. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

The Atlanta Hawks and John Collins share a mutual level of optimism about hammering out a new contract this offseason, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.

Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium reported July 22 the Hawks extended Collins the $7.7 million qualifying offer, which makes him a restricted free agent.

According to Charania, the Hawks could have some stiff competition for the 23-year-old. He reported Thursday there will be "several aggressive suitors" beyond Atlanta once the negotiating period begins. 

Charania had previously listed the Dallas Mavericks, Miami Heat, Minnesota Timberwolves and San Antonio Spurs as potentially in the hunt.

The Athletic's Chris Kirschner and Sam Amick reported in January that Collins turned down a $90 million deal from the Hawks prior to the rookie extension deadline. He had previously indicated a desire to sign a max contract.

In the event he fails to reach that goal, Collins is still poised to significantly pad his bank account. John Hollinger of The Athletic projected him to earn as much as $110 million.

In 2020-21, Collins' production ticked downward slightly, which was to be expected after the Hawks added Danilo Gallinari and Bogdan Bogdanovic. He averaged 17.6 points and 7.4 rebounds and shot 39.9 percent from beyond the arc.

The 6'9" forward also played well in the playoffs, averaging 13.9 points, 8.7 rebounds and 0.6 blocks as Atlanta reached the Eastern Conference Finals.

It's easy to see why the Hawks would want to keep him around.

However, Collins is an obvious target for a team with salary cap flexibility that isn't typically a major player when the elite stars are available. The situation isn't too dissimilar from Gordon Hayward getting $120 million over four years from the Charlotte Hornets.

After ownership saw such an immediate return from last offseason's financial outlay, the front office may have an easier time selling the merits of a massive extension for Collins get ahead of the market.