Over a period of several months, speculation churned about John Collins and the Atlanta Hawks with regard to a potential contract extension. The two sides had an NBA-mandated deadline of 6 pm ET on Dec. 21 to agree on an extension — per terms of the league’s collective bargaining agreement — and, with that deadline now officially in the past, Collins will be hitting the free agent market at the conclusion of the 2020-21 season.
It must be noted, however, that Collins will likely enter restricted free agency when the campaign ends. Provided the Hawks issue a qualifying offer — a standing one-year offer of a guaranteed salary at a figure that will be either $5,899,793 or $7,705,448 based on the NBA’s starter criteria — that is almost certainly coming after the season, Atlanta will have the chance to match any offer sheet that Collins signs. From a financial perspective, Collins’s salary cap hold of $12,411,906 will remain on Atlanta’s books until either an offer sheet or contract is signed, and given what the Hawks chose to do in 2020 free agency, the team projects to remain over the cap as 2021 free agency arrives.
Collins, who is 23 years old, was highly productive during his first three seasons in the NBA, especially during the 2019-20 campaign. Though it should be noted that he served a 25-game suspension for a violation of the NBA’s anti-drug policy, Collins returned to average 21.6 points and 10.1 rebounds in 41 games, appearing for 33.2 minutes per contest.
Beyond his raw production, Collins was also incredibly efficient. He converted 58.3 percent of his shots, including 40.1 percent from three-point distance, and Collins also improved to be an 80.0 percent free throw shooter last season. All told, Collins produced an obscenely impressive 65.9 percent true shooting in 2019-20, with a stellar 63.4 percent mark for his career.
Because of his productivity and overall performance, it is safe to assume Collins will command a hefty salary in free agency if he is able to approximate his 2019-20 showing. Still, the Hawks will be able to bring Collins back for 2021-22 and beyond if they choose to do so, and it will be interesting to see what the market looks like in the summer. For now, Collins remains a key piece of the 2020-21 team on the floor, and he can now approach the regular season knowing that free agency looms.