John Collins Trade Rumors: Hawks 'Unlikely' to Move PF Before 2021 Deadline

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistMarch 18, 2021

Atlanta Hawks' John Collins, left, shoots against Toronto Raptors' Chris Boucher during the first half of an NBA basketball game Thursday, March 11, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Mike Carlson)
Mike Carlson/Associated Press

John Collins has been regularly discussed as a potential trade candidate before the NBA's March 25 deadline, but it appears he's trending toward staying with the Atlanta Hawks this season. 

ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski noted the following on the Woj Pod on Thursday (h/t RealGM):

"John Collins, I think, is unlikely to leave Atlanta. I don't think they can find value on a rookie contract for him. They're 6-0 since Nate McMillan took over as head coach. I think they can figure out John Collins' future. ... There was a limit they were willing to go in negations, around $90 million on an extension. He'll be a restricted free agent. They can figure that out after the season."

Collins, 23, is having another solid season, averaging 18.0 points, 7.8 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game while shooting 52.9 percent from the field and 37.3 percent from three. In many ways, his game provides the perfect blueprint for the modern 4, combining athleticism and solid defense around the basket with the ability to stretch the floor. 

So why would Atlanta consider moving him?

Collins will be a restricted free agent after the season and is likely to field significant offers. Matching those offers could leave Atlanta in a long-term salary crunch:

  • Danilo Gallinari is owed $20.4 million next season and $21.4 million (non-guaranteed) in 2022-23. 
  • Bogdan Bogdanovic will earn $18 million in each of the next three seasons (2023-24 is a player option).
  • Clint Capela will earn $17.1 million next season and $18.2 million in 2022-23.
  • Trae Young will inevitably sign a max contract when he is eligible that kicks in for the 2022-23 season. 
  • DeAndre Hunter may not get max money when he's eligible for an extension, but he's trending toward a lucrative deal that would kick in for the 2023-24 season. 
  • Atlanta will have long-term decisions to make on Kevin Huerter and Cam Reddish in coming seasons. 

So, yes, the Hawks have a potential salary crunch to consider. Giving up on Collins, a promising young player on a promising young team, isn't ideal. The Hawks can likely find a way to make the money work. 

But those complications are one of the reasons his name has been making the rounds in trade rumors.