The Hawks Are Trading John Collins To The Jazz For Rudy Gay

John Collins has been in trade rumors for three years now, but despite having his name come up every deadline and offseason, he remained a member of the Atlanta Hawks through the 2022-23 season.

Finally, the Hawks have found a trade for Collins, sending him to a Utah team flush with cap room and looking to continue upgrading their roster after a surprisingly competitive year. Atlanta won’t be getting much in return for Collins, as they will bring back Rudy Gay and a second round pick for their starting power forward, per Adrian Wojnarowski and Jake Fischer, but as he notes this move is mostly to clear their books for the future.

Despite reports of a mandate to stay under the tax in Atlanta, Woj reports they can continue to make moves and go into the tax to improve the team, but given how the Hawks have operated financially under Tony Ressler, many won’t believe that until they see it.

From a basketball perspective it’s interesting for both parties, as the Hawks get worse by losing one of their better defenders and connectors, but gain some clarity in terms of roles. Collins had steadily been shuffled to the background in Atlanta after posting career-best marks in the 2019-20 season (21.6 points/10.1 rebounds per game), and last year with the addition of Dejountey Murray he really struggled to make the same impact as he just had less opportunity (13.1 points/6.5 rebounds). His shooting drop-off last year to 29.2 percent from deep, after having become a strong three-point threat, was particularly problematic in a lesser role. Without him, the Hawks can look to bolster their rotation with players entering a more defined role as a tertiary scorer, as opposed to trying to wedge Collins into that role.

In Utah, Collins will slot between Lauri Markkanen and Walker Kessler in an interesting frontcourt trio that will have to learn how to find their spaces. If Collins can regain his three-point form of years past, he and Markkanen could form a formidable 3/4 offensive combo (that could play some small-ball 4/5), and Collins will give Utah an athletic rim threat they otherwise didn’t have.