Photo Credits: Todd Kirkland/Getty Images
The NBA media was sent into a frenzy on Friday when Sam Amick of The Athletic first reported that the Atlanta Hawks were looking to surface offers on power-forward John Collins. Amick detailed the initial reports, saying,
“Even if there was a quality deal to be had that added future assets, his production in the present is so crucial that it appears unlikely that he’ll be on the move. Nonetheless, sources say the Hawks have shown a willingness to listen to offers.”Sam Amick- The Athletic
Though Amick’s reports instilled the idea that Collins’ asking price may be deep, it is intriguing to draw up the possibility of the 23-year-old suiting up for another franchise come the trade deadline.
John Collins has made major strides since entering the league, notably last season with the Hawks, in which the big man posted averages of 21.6 points and 10.1 rebounds. This season Collins has remained on top of his game, averaging 18.1 points and 7.7 rebounds despite seeing a diminished role in the addition of Danillo Galinarri and emergence of second-year man De’Andre Hunter.
As outlined by Amick, the fourth year man is looking to break the bank in this upcoming offseason, as his rookie contract is to be completed at conclusion of the season. Sources close to Collins’ situation have reported that he has shot down figures as high as 90 million dollars for his debut to the free agency market— a figure the Hawks may not be willing to budge on.
Atlanta clearly intended on this season to be their reappearance to the playoffs after missing the playoffs for three straight years, and as it stands now— their goal is still in reach. The Hawks currently sit tied for the 8th seed in the East with an 11-14 record, and with the 9th easiest schedule remaining, chalking up numbers in the win column should not be an issue.
One argument that may be dispelled is the Hawks were not looking to sneak in as a low seed or even play-in team on the year, and that is without a doubt true. With the offseason additions of Danillo Gallinari, Bogdan Bogdanovic, and Rajon Rondo, the motion seemed clear they were going for gold.
With a pathway still in place, Atlanta may see this season as another year to build up for next season. With starting small-forward De’Andre Hunter out with knee injury for the next 7-10 weeks, forking out a major playoff run may be in the back of their heads by now— as now the financial side of things may take over.
Atlanta has over 100 million dollars booked for the upcoming 21-22 season, and with star guard Trae Young alongside lottery picks De’Andre Hunter, Cam Reddish, and Onyeka Okongwu nearing their future paydays, Collins may be the string to pull.
Potential players in the John Collins sweepstakes according to Amick? The Oklahoma City Thunder— as stated,
“In terms of early deductions, this much is clear; Sources say Oklahoma City, Detroit, and Cleveland are open for business (to varying degrees, of course, and with young prospects off limits).”Sam Amick- The Athletic
The race for John Collins quite frankly will expand upon these three teams outlined. When you look into Collins, he brings opposing sides nightmares from every aspect of the game. Offensively, he has become one of the league’s biggest interior threats on top of being a real perimeter, burying 40% of his threes on the season. And defensively, he’s molded himself into a great shot-blocker posting 1.0 a game.
An asking price for John Collins really is unclear at this point as the Hawks are facing a unique situation— that honestly, has no definite solution.
In Atlanta’s eyes, their best move may ultimately be to hold onto Collins, but if they are wanting to keep a cost-effective yet dangerous roster on deck, while stacking up future assets— Oklahoma City may be their suitor.
With the Thunder carrying a treasure-trove of 18 potential first-round picks until 2027, spewing out a draft pick or two on Collins may prove to be a worthwhile investment, and with a plethora of reliable cheap options, a deal could be done.
A baseline offer for Collins would likely have the net Atlanta a near lottery level pick and bring in an immediate bright spot to help right away. Oklahoma City can do this with relative ease hauling out a lower tier first, one of their highly-touted picks (that very likely would have to be moved later,) plus a nice piece that can produce immediately.
It’s highly unlikely that Oklahoma City would even consider moving away one of their top three picks in this upcoming draft, but a deal involving the Warriors top-20 protected first should be on the table. That pick likely conveys to Minnesota’s 2nd round selection (via the D’Angelo Russell trade,) which should bring in a top 35 pick. From then on future draft picks such as Philidelphia’s 2025 first-round pick (protected 1-6 in 2025, 1-4 in 2026, and 1-4 in 2027), their own future selections, or major enigmas in future Rockets or Clippers picks may be added to enhance the offer. The deal sealer may come through some of Oklahoma City’s current players, in particular— Kenrich Williams.
To the dismay of every Thunder fan (understandably) Kenny Hustle has made himself known for Oklahoma City this season— but also the entire league. His tenacity to play 2-4, go after every loose ball, every rebound, and every passing lane has made himself a hot commodity. And with Williams making just 6 million dollars collectively over the next three seasons, he fits Atlanta’s need in collecting a long-term bang for your buck player to help build around their core.
Obviously, two picks and a great piece in Williams could very well not be enough, but if Atlanta felt content with an offer and Kenrich Williams were to be the decisive player for a deal, it would make sense as to why Sam Presti would refuse to pull the trigger based on Kenrich’s play. However; on that same token, an opportunity to collect a long-term option that fits with SGA and Bazley’s high-tempo play may just push Presti over the edge.
Though John Collins would be getting a major payday if brought onto Oklahoma City, but he may be worth the investment. Collins would immediately fill the Thunder’s long-term need at the five spot— being used as a versatile piece who can be used to roll or pop off screens, take his man one-on-one, or can be used out in space to allow for others to operate inside. And when you take into account the Thunder likely will have a duo of top-tier picks in this draft, and will have a sea of options in potential prospects such as Cade Cunningham and Jonathon Kuminga to cinch the gap to round out the starting unit.
The cards lay in the hands of Thunder GM Sam Presti as to if Oklahoma City will pursue John Collins— and the bidding war starts now.