Earlier this week, Shams Charania reported that John Collins, who just signed a five-year, $125 million contract extension with the Hawks this past offseason, was becoming increasingly frustrated with his role in Atlanta. Charania also alluded to the fact that Collins could be used as the centerpiece of a trade to acquire All-Star Ben Simmons from the 76ers.
It all makes sense. Marc Stein reported last week that the Hawks are a team to keep an eye on in the Ben Simmons sweepstakes, and it’s easy to see why Collins might be growing frustrated with his role. Despite being one of the most efficient players in basketball, the Hawks don’t call plays for him. On top of that, the team is struggling. They’ve lost 13 of their last 19 games, leaving them five games under .500 and 12th in the Eastern Conference. This isn’t where anybody expected the Hawks to be nearly halfway through the season, causing frustrations to run high throughout the organization.
But just how likely is it that John Collins is traded prior to February 10th’s trade deadline? Is this an unfixable situation? Or are the reports regarding Collins’ frustration overblown?
In an interview with Chris Kirschner of The Athletic, Collins addressed the reports head-on, which in itself is a promising development when it comes to his relationship with the Hawks.
I spoke with John Collins on what exactly he’s frustrated about, having his name mentioned in Ben Simmons deals and how he feels about the Hawks.
“When you win, it covers up a lot of shit. When you lose, it uncovers a lot of shit.”
— Chris Kirschner (@ChrisKirschner) January 12, 2022
On Charania’s report specifically in which he said that Collins was becoming increasingly frustrated with his role, Collins said:
When you read the article and go back and look at it — sometimes, the headline of the article is a lot more intriguing than what’s actually written — what I didn’t like is he took a quote from my postgame press conference and sort of created a dialogue from it talking about my usage is down. In terms of voicing it and saying something, of course, I am frustrated. We’re not doing well.
On the Hawks not calling any offensive plays for him:
I don’t love that. I understand my value and my role to the team. I feel like I’ve embraced it and not complained. I’ve trudged on and done what I feel like is needed to be a professional on this team, but, again, it’s the coach’s decision and the organization’s decision. I don’t love it, but I’m trying to do my best to try to play through it.
My usage is lower than my rookie year. (Note: There was a time during the season when this was accurate; however, it’s the second lowest of his career.) There are things that I can’t control and I’m not trying to say anything about. I’m not complaining about this, but there are small things that are different now for myself. I’m just trying to figure out how to make my point and my emphasis felt on the court.
Yes, exactly. I’m not sitting here complaining and saying I need more touches of the ball, or I need to score more points or need more shots. I’ve never complained about that. All I’ve said, specifically, if there’s a way that I feel like is beneficial for everybody — and not just myself — is for us to be used in the correct way.
On his commitment to Atlanta:
The NBA trade machine is going crazy right now, huh? But since I started conversations to get my contract last season, the trade conversations have been a thing that I’ve gotten used to. I pledged my allegiance to the city of Atlanta. I’ve never come in here once and pledged my allegiances elsewhere.
Collins also ended the interview with this statement, “I just want the city of Atlanta to know that I love them.”
These comments from Collins are refreshing. It goes without saying that headlines often mislead readers. Most members of the media are paid to create storylines and narratives. While there is some truth to what Charania reported, it’s clear Collins isn’t pushing for a trade in any way.
Does he feel like the team should be performing better? Yes. Does he want a more defined role in the offense? Yes. However, Collins made a substantial commitment to this organization and city this past offseason. Five years is a long time, and he’s nowhere close to trying to force his way out in any way.
From this interview, it’s clear his mind remains in the right place. With that being said, it doesn’t mean he will be in Atlanta past the trade deadline. There’s clearly a disconnect throughout the Hawks roster, and Schlenk has made it pretty clear that he will be active at the trade deadline. Collins isn’t the problem, but he could be used to help find the solution. If the right deal comes along, everything should be on the table, even moving the ultra-efficient Collins.