The Atlanta Hawks have been incredibly inconsistent this season, despite acquiring an All-Star in the offseason in Dejounte Murray. Murray has come as advertised and is amid the best start of his career, but the entire roster has left a lot to be desired. Sometimes, the club looks like it could make some real noise in the Eastern Conference. Other times, it seems like the Hawks are headed for another first-round exit.
A lot of the issues could be chalked up to chemistry, as the coaching staff searches for the most cohesive lineups and rotations while teammates feel each other out. Still, there are some major issues that need addressing. The Hawks are one of the worst three-point shooting teams in the Association and take fewer than any team. The bench could use bolstering, and John Collins‘ current role is surely not worth $25 million per year.
The ultra-efficient forward has been the center of trade rumors for years now, and he’s having the worst start to a season of his career with the influx of Murray. Two ball dominant guards are leaving Collins with very few opportunities. JC averaged 21.6 points and 10.1 rebounds in his beast season on .583/.401/.800 shooting splits. And this year, he’s averaging 12.6 points and 8.0 rebounds on .493/.244/.939 shooting splits.
Earlier in the month, hypotheticals appeared. Then, substantiated reports surfaced from trusted sources. Shams Charania of The Athletic said the Hawks had opened up preliminary trade discussions around the forward. And to add more fuel to the fire, Yahoo! listed Collins and Bogdan Bogdanovic as the team’s top trade candidates.
Following the four-year, $95 million extension with forward De’Andre Hunter, rival NBA executives believe Atlanta will likely have to part with either forward John Collins, swingman Bogdan Bogdanovic, or center Clint Capela to avoid looming luxury tax concerns next season.
With former sixth overall pick Onyeka Okongwu waiting in the wings, executives seeking frontcourt upgrades are monitoring the trade availability of Collins and Capela. Collins is shooting a career-low 23.4 percent from three-point range and averaging 12.4 points, his lowest scoring output since his rookie season.
Of the three players listed, Bogdanovic is the most available, according to rival executives. Bogdanovic is owed $18 million this season and has an $18 million player option for the 2023-24 season.
It’s also worth noting that the Hawks are among several teams who’ve expressed interest in Suns forward Jae Crowder on the trade market.
Collins has been the center of drama and rumors for the Hawks for years, and at this point, it’s becoming redundant. I feel for JC; he’s a consummate professional and helps his team win games by doing all the little things right, including the dirty work nobody wants to do. He’s surely the most attractive trade chip the Hawks have, but his value has never been lower than it is right now. Capela is having a career year after a fully healthy offseason and is on a very palatable contract, so I understand teams being interested in him.
I am of the opinion that having two reliable centers is vital, especially with a team that has a defensive liability like Trae Young. I’d be most willing to part ways with JC because the team just isn’t finding ways to get him involved, and his deal coming off the books could open up a bevy of possibilities for acquiring another star. Regardless of what the report says about avoiding the luxury tax, Tony Ressler has been outspoken about his willingness to pay for championships.
Bogi is likely untouchable if he’s healthy, but he’s been far from reliable since coming to Atlanta. When he’s on the floor, I love the Serbian Sniper, but he’s just rarely on the court. I could see the team moving him if the right deal presented itself, but right now, the Hawks need shooting and depth — two things solved with Bogdanovic returning.
With all that being said, I’d be shocked if the Hawks made any significant moves before the trade deadline. It’s far too small of a sample size to make sweeping judgments.
Photographer: Melissa Tamez/Icon Sportswire