Though the Atlanta Hawks look like buyers at this year's trade deadline after jumping back into eighth place in the Eastern Conference, power forward John Collins reportedly could still end up being dealt by the team.
According to ESPN's Tim Bontemps, Collins is likely to command a max contract this offseason after failing to sign an extension last summer. The Hawks would rather try to shop his expiring deal for potential help now rather than deal with the consequences of trying to retain him going forward.
"They're worried he's getting maxed, and they're putting it out there they are willing to pay him if he gets a max but won't be thrilled about it," an unnamed executive in the East told Bontemps. "I think they'd like to buy, but not sure there's a lot to buy or what they buy it with. [Kevin] Huerter and picks, I guess, is the package, but what is that buying you?"
Bontemps noted Collins' $4.1 million salary might not return the type of established player the Hawks need for a playoff run.
Collins' numbers have dipped a bit this year with the addition of Clint Capela in the frontcourt. After a career-season in 2019-20 (21.6 points, 10.1 rebounds per game), Collins is averaging 17.9 points and 7.7 rebounds per night—his lowest marks since his rookie season. Still, according to Basketball-Reference, Collins offensive rating per 100 possessions hasn't dipped too dramatically.
He's posting an O-rating of 122 this season, after finishing at 124 last year, while his defensive rating has improved from 112 in 2019-20 to 113 this campaign.
Charania of The Athletic and Stadium reported Monday that the Boston Celtics have interest in Collins, but the Hawks are seeking a "high-level first-round draft pick and/or a talented young player."
ESPN's Jackie MacMullan told the Bill Simmons Podcast the Minnesota Timberwolves wanted Collins, as well, but it's unclear if the rebuilding franchise would part with valuable assets to acquire him.
Collins reportedly turned down an extension worth more than $90 million last offseason, which should give potential suitors a good idea of what the forward is seeking next summer as a restricted free agent. As the trade deadline nears, Collins' future in Atlanta looks as shaky as ever, but his long-term potential in the league may just be starting to reveal itself.