The Atlanta Hawks reportedly put a steep price tag on John Collins in trade negotiations with the Boston Celtics.
Jared Weiss and Sam Amick of The Athletic reported the Hawks expressed a desire to land Jaylen Brown when made aware of Boston's interest in Collins. Not surprisingly, a swap involving Brown "was not going anywhere unless Atlanta was looking to include Trae Young and DeAndre Hunter, their two main building blocks."
Weiss and Amick reported the Hawks have been pretty rigid when it comes to Collins:
"League sources with knowledge of the Collins trade discussions have noted a significant gulf in how Atlanta values their power forward and what teams are willing to give up for someone entering a robust restricted free agency market. Though the team acquiring Collins is highly likely to retain him through his matching rights, Collins will be one of the top free agents on the market with a large number of teams able to offer him up to the max."
The 23-year-old is averaging 18.3 points and 7.8 rebounds while shooting 54.2 percent overall and 37.4 percent from beyond the arc.
In a vacuum, Collins is a strong trade asset but certainly not at the level of Brown, who's putting up 24.7 points 5.6 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game while possessing more positional flexibility. As Weiss and Amick noted, Collins' contract situation erodes Atlanta's leverage even further.
The fourth-year veteran is due to become a restricted free agent, and Amick and Chris Kirschner of The Athletic reported in January he turned down a $90 million extension from the Hawks already.
The report didn't come as a surprise since Collins told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Sarah K. Spencer last May he was hopeful of receiving a max contract.
"When we're talking max numbers and money, I feel like I definitely (am in) the conversation to have earned that money with the Hawks specifically, but obviously I know there's business and we don't always get exactly what we want," he said. "But I want to be a Hawk; I want to stay with the Hawks."
Given the quality of the 2021 free-agent class, Collins commanding a contract approaching or equal to the maximum doesn't seem implausible. With that in mind, it seems fair to wonder whether the Hawks would be willing to keep Collins around at that price.
This past offseason, they handed out $133.4 million combined to Bogdan Bogdanovic and Danilo Gallinari. Clint Capela still has two more years to run on his five-year, $90 million deal. And Trae Young is due to become a restricted free agent in 2022.
The obvious incentive to acquiring Collins now is a team would get to skip the line before he hits free agency. But that still doesn't provide a compelling reason to go above and beyond to make a trade happen.