It’s only May, and the Conference Finals are still about a week away, but the NBA rumor mill never sleeps. The Hawks will be quite busy this offseason, and John Collins will surely be the center of discussions.
According to Sean Deveney of Heavy Sports, the Nets were among the teams interested in Collins even before they decided to blow it up, sending Kyrie Irving to Dallas and Kevin Durant to Pheonix. An NBA exec says that interest has dwindled to just curiosity.
“The Nets like Collins, they had interest there even before they blew up the team, they’re still curious but they would have to do more than just Simmons in that kind of deal,” the executive said.
Now, if you’re the Hawks, a straight-up swap for Collins and Simmons isn’t even on the table. Despite Collins and Simmons being owed the same amount of money — Collins owed $78 million over three years, Simmons over two years — there is no questioning JC’s desire to help the team win basketball games. Simmons might actually not want to play basketball anymore. He only played 42 games last season after sitting out all of the prior season due to the fiasco with the 76ers, mental health issues, and a back injury. Simmons averaged less than seven points and around six assists and six rebounds per game in 26.3 minutes — all career lows.
Even though Collins has struggled mightily in recent seasons, he is still producing more than Simmons and played almost double the number of games. Moreover, with Quin Snyder leading the Hawks, there are legitimate reasons to believe Collins can turn the clock back. From 2019 to 2022, Collins averaged over 18 points and eight boards on a very efficient .555/.388/.811 shooting splits. Snyder is heralded as an offensive maestro; if anyone can get the most out of Collins, it is him.
Personnel changes are coming for the Hawks, and Collins might be included, but it would be selling extremely low on him. I wouldn’t be irate about moving him, but I would lose it if it were for Ben Simmons, which is why Deveney went further down the rabbit hole with the NBA exec.
“You’d be looking at taking back (Bogdan) Bogdanovic’s deal if you’re Brooklyn and giving up a Royce O’Neale or Dorian Finney-Smith. Maybe too high a price, and maybe that is why they wind up holding onto Simmons in the end. They also have to ask, are you going to play Cam Johnson at the 4 permanently, can you play him with a big guy like Collins? But both teams are kind of in a holding pattern and even though it’s scary to do something big, that’s the kind of thing it will take.”
The Hawks just extended Bogdan Bogdanovic to a four-year, $68 million deal. He averaged 14 points on a very efficient 40.6 3P%, which isn’t exactly a smart asset to move for a team that struggled to knock down shots from beyond the arc. I’m not sure why this executive is acting like the Hawks would be attempting to move Bogdanovic’s contract after just extending him.
DFS is a solid player, but all of this is very meh. The Hawks certainly don’t get better, and a move like this would be more about the future than the present. It would get Collins and Bogi’s respective contracts off the books. Still, Simmons is owed a similar amount, just over a shorter period.
I hate everything about this idea. In my perfect world, the Hawks move Clint Capela and sign a center that can actually space the floor, like Brook Lopez. We saw a different version of John Collins in the postseason when Snyder closed games with Onyeka Okongwu instead of CC.
Selling Collins is one thing, but giving him away and taking back awful contracts in return is entirely different. Under Quin Snyder, the Hawks have no interest in a rebuild. They want to make the roster as competitive as possible. Ben Simmons is no longer that guy, but it is the beginning of the offseason for the Hawks, so we can expect plenty of terrible trade rumors between now and next season.
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