John Collins Trade Talks Were Never Serious with Any Team, Hawks GM Says

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorMarch 26, 2021

Atlanta Hawks forward John Collins, tries to pass while under pressure from Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard during the second half of an NBA basketball game Monday, March 22, 2021, in Los Angeles. The Clippers won 119-110. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

The Atlanta Hawks general manager Travis Schlenk told reporters on Friday the team never seriously considered moving forward John Collins prior to Thursday's trade deadline.

Sarah K. Spencer of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution relayed the remarks: "We never had any serious conversations, with any team, about moving him this year."

Collins, 23, has averaged 18.1 points, 7.8 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game for a resurgent Hawks team that has won eight of its last 10 games to move to 22-22, good for sixth in the Eastern Conference.

Collins will become a restricted free agent in the offseason, so it's possible another team breaks the bank for the ex-Wake Forest star and offers a contract Atlanta doesn't want to match. However, ESPN's Brian Windhorst reported March 19 the Hawks told inquiring teams they intend to match any offer sheets for Collins in the summer so it seems likely he'll stay put.

Collins has made it clear that he would like to remain in Atlanta, with Chris Kirschner of The Athletic relaying his remarks from Tuesday:

"I want to stay. I want my flowers here in Atlanta. I want to be true to Atlanta for my entire career, as corny or as cheesy as it may sound to whoever. As a basketball player and as someone who takes pride in their job, me being drafted in the organization and me living here and becoming a man and living my life in the NBA as a Hawk means something to me.

"It might not mean a lot to other people but I want to be here. I want my future to be here. I want to think about my future here but the reality of the situation is stuff doesn't always go the way I want it to. All I can do to make sure my future is as good as it can be is make sure I'm the best player I can be and wake up every day and figure it out."

The Hawks have a promising young core featuring Trae Young, Collins, DeAndre Hunter, and Clint Capela. They've managed a .500 record despite missing Hunter, who is averaging 16.0 points, for 22 games due to injury.

They just won eight straight games before losing a hard-fought battle to the Los Angeles Clippers, who sport the third-best record in the West. Atlanta then ran into a buzzsaw on the road against a Sacramento Kings team that has won five of six thanks largely to some excellent play from De'Aaron Fox and Tyrese Haliburton.

The Hawks could ultimately be best off keeping this core together as best they can and seeing what the ceiling is, especially with head coach Nate MacMillan appearing to have an overwhelmingly positive effect on this team after taking over when Atlanta was 14-20.


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