Monday morning, Shams Charania of The Athletic fanned the flames on the John Collins trade rumors, pigging backing off of a report from Sam Amick last week. Charania said “Atlanta has so far sought a high first-round, lottery-level pick if it is to move Collins,” which may come as surprise given the Hawks’ self-proclaimed desire to compete for a playoff spot in 2021.
The speculation on what may happen with Collins goes back months now, as there was rumored trade talks surrounding the big man around the time of 2020 NBA Draft, then he and the Hawks notoriously did not come to an extension agreement ahead of the 2020-21 season. The Mar. 25 trade deadline is less than six weeks away, and things are already picking up again.
This means that 1) Collins is at least available, and 2) teams are interested. It may only be a matter of time before the fourth-year forward is suiting up elsewhere, or it could just be smoke. Asking for a ‘high-level’ lottery pick and getting one are two different things, and it would be difficult to envision Atlanta trading Collins for a less-than-spectacular return. The big man has been one of the Hawks’ best players this season, and losing him for cents on the dollar would perhaps look worse than losing him in restricted free agency in the upcoming offseason.
Nonetheless, the rumors are picking up, as they have before, so it seems anything is in play. The Hawks are 7-14 in there last 21 games, and are risk of being on the outside looking in at the Eastern Conference playoff picture. As of now, they are the tenth seed, and there is a slim margin in either direction. If they pull it together and roll off some wins, they will re-emerge as a team that feels safe to make the postseason, but if they continue to regress, the opposite could be true.
Whichever direction they go could ultimately be a factor in what they decide to do with Collins, as the dynamic of trading the star forward off of a team that is playing well is different than otherwise. Regardless, things are going to get interesting as the deadline approaches. Stay tuned.