In a bit of understandable yet disappointing news, John Collins remains vocally upset with his extension situation.
John Collins said he's remaining optimistic and positive as his contract gets sorted out. He said his contract is the first thing on his mind when he gets into the gym.
— Chris Kirschner (@ChrisKirschner) December 1, 2020
I still firmly believe that Atlanta and Collins will work something out, and even if they do not this year, he’s a restricted free agent next season, and Atlanta can match any offer he gets. I think Collins is very much worth close to a max contract. He posted incredible numbers in a COVID & suspension shortened 2020 season, but I understand why the Hawks are holding back for now. An extension now wouldn’t have implications for the 2020 cap sheet, but going forward — Atlanta may desire flexibility to add a star player.
As I broke down here, Atlanta is actually at about $114 million in taxable salary for this season. That drops to an estimated $101 million for 2021-2022. Collins can still fit under the hard cap ($109 million in 2020) by using his Bird Rights, but Atlanta could dip into luxury-tax territory next year. The luxury-tax threshold (via Spotrac) is currently set at $132 million, which means if Atlanta decided to add a little under $18 million on another player — they’d be a taxpayer this season.
I don’t think it’s actually about this year. The luxury tax apron itself, which is a hard cap that cannot be exceeded under any circumstances (excluding exceptions), is set at a little over $138 million. Once again, Collins’ Bird Rights would be an exception like Kris Dunn‘s MLE. With Tony Snell‘s ~$13 million expiring next offseason, Atlanta MIGHT be trying to fit in a Collins extension under the luxury tax. With the tax bracket expected to rise to $136 million (via Spotrac) in 2021-2022, Atlanta could be looking at about $36 million to BARELY play with. It’s certainly possible but would be tricky, especially with how complicated the NBA CBA is. Repeat taxpayers pay a hefty increase each season, and with Trae Young‘s inevitable max contract also looming — I get why they’re playing the waiting game.
On the other side of that coin, John Collins is deserving of a raise. He’s a key piece of this Hawks franchise going forward and a big-time fan favorite. Players in his draft class like Donovan Mitchell, Jayson Tatum, and De’Aaron Fox have already been handed max deals this offseason. It looks like Collins will likely play 2020 under his current deal and hopefully get his payday next season to remain in Atlanta.