The Atlanta Hawks are off to a strong start to the 2022-23 season, sitting third in the East at 10-6, but that’s not to say everything is peachy in the Georgia capital.
The Hawks are winning to start the year in spite of an offense that has an almost alarming lack of three-point shooting, as they rank dead last with 9.1 made threes per game — below even the Lakers. While the eventual return of Bogdan Bogdanovic should help, the clear need in Atlanta is to bolster their roster with shooters around Trae Young and Dejounte Murray. With Clint Capela serving as their defensive anchor and the team having just extended De’Andre Hunter on a lucrative deal to be their defensive ace on the wing, the only real option for making a significant move in Atlanta is at the four spot where John Collins has found himself on the trade block for two years.
The Hawks almost begrudgingly re-signed Collins two summers ago to a 5-year, $125 million deal after the free agent market evaporated quickly, and have not been shy about their efforts to trade him since then. Last summer it felt like Collins’ departure was almost a guarantee, as the Hawks found themselves deep in conversations with the Kings and other teams about his services headed into the Draft, but ultimately nothing materialized and Collins started his sixth season in Atlanta. Collins is averaging 12.4 points and 7.9 rebounds per game so far this season, with a career-low in usage rate as he has seen his involvement take the biggest hit with Murray’s arrival.
As such, trade rumors about Collins have returned as we approach December 15, when players signed this offseason can begin to be dealt, and once again the conversation around the star big man’s future seems to be a matter of when, not if, he is traded, per Marc Stein.
No clear-cut destination for Collins has emerged, but his exit from the Hawks — after being mentioned in countless trade scenarios for the past few seasons — has never seemed more inevitable.
As for suitors, Stein mentions the Jazz as a team that has reached out about Collins, as the West’s biggest surprise team certainly has ample ammunition in the form of draft picks to entice a Hawks team that just unloaded much of its future draft capital to get Murray. Many have also wondered why the Hawks would be looking to trade Collins given his obvious talent level, but the fact is they’ve made their commitments and have a need that Collins simply doesn’t fill.
There will be three things the Hawks will be looking to get out of a Collins trade: shooting, draft assets, and some future financial flexibility. While Bogdanovic should give them a boost, he alone can’t alleviate their problems and isn’t a player they can necessarily bank on staying healthy enough to rely on to be the cure-all to their shooting woes. After dealing three picks for Murray, they’ll want to replenish draft picks, and with Hunter, Young, Murray, and Capela all on big-money extensions, ownership has never shown a willingness to pay the tax which explains the impetus to move Collins before Hunter’s extension kicks in.