With the trade deadline arriving at 3:00 pm ET on Thursday, rumors continue to fly around in NBA circles. The Atlanta Hawks have been tied to a number of players in reported trade talks and, along the way, several of Atlanta’s own pieces — headlined by John Collins — have been mentioned as potential trade fodder. On Wednesday afternoon, however, those eager to see the Hawks simply cruise through the deadline without a major shake-up received some positive reinforcement from prominent national reporters.
As part of a half-hour television special — later released in podcast form — ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Zach Lowe discussed many different trade rumblings. A portion of that discussion centered on the Hawks and, in the end, the message was that the Hawks are likely to hang on to Collins through the deadline.
Lowe: “It seems like the Hawks, who have won eight out of nine, it seems likely that they’re going to keep him, to keep this playoff run going. Is that the sense you’re getting, Woj?”
Wojnarowski: “Yeah, they are going to keep John Collins. They’ve played really well under Nate McMillan since he’s taken over as head coach. The team’s gotten healthier, but I think if they do anything in Atlanta, again, it’s something more around the edges than with their core players. There were discussions with John Collins with a number of teams, but expect him to finish the year with the Hawks.”
Collins, who will enter restricted free agency after the 2020-21 season, is averaging 18.3 points and 7.8 rebounds per game in 43 appearances this season. While his box-score production is down a touch from the 2019-20 campaign with Atlanta’s investment in Clint Capela, he maintains a lights-out 62.7 percent true shooting mark, and Collins has improved as an overall defensive presence.
In a post-practice media availability on Tuesday, Collins told reporters that he would like to stay in Atlanta.
“I want to stay,” Collins said, via Sarah Spencer of the AJC. “I want my flowers here in Atlanta. I want to be true to Atlanta for my entire career, as corny or cheesy as it may sound to whoever. As a basketball player, as someone who takes pride in their job, me being drafted in the organization, and me living here, becoming a man and living my life in the NBA as a Hawk, it means something to me.”
Collins reportedly turned down a multi-year extension worth at least $90 million prior to the season, prompting many to speculate on his long-term future with the organization. As noted by ESPN’s discussion above, Collins has been available in trade discussions but, with Atlanta’s recent uptick in team performance, the words used by Wojnarowski were interestingly definitive. If Collins is retained through the season, the Hawks would wield the ability to match any offer for his services, provided they tendered a qualifying offer.
Earlier in the episode, Lowe and Wojnarowski discussed Atlanta’s rumored pursuit of Pelicans guard Lonzo Ball. Wojnarowski said that any talks involving the Hawks and Pelicans for Ball have “gone by the wayside.” From there, he said “I think the Hawks, for all intents and purposes, are going to stand pat.”
It must be noted that the Hawks could still be active before the deadline, with almost 24 hours to go as this post is published. Still, this is one of the NBA’s most prominent reporters indicating that the signals point to relative quiet, at least with regard to Collins and Ball.