The Hawks made some significant personnel changes this offseason when the club acquired Dejounte Murray from the Spurs, giving Trae Young the first All-Star teammate of his career. The pair have become one of the best backcourt duos in the Association, as Atlanta boasts a 9-6 record — third in the Eastern Conference.
However, it’s not all peachy in Atlanta. There are issues. Despite playing much better as of late, there might be some dissatisfaction brewing, and Hawks fans can probably guess who — John Collins. 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 Dejounte Murray. Two ball dominant guards are leaving Collins with very few opportunities, and at least one national outlet is suggesting a trade.
John Collins used to hit 8.6 shots per game. Now he only *takes* 9.5 and has grown into an afterthought in Atlanta.
It's time to trade him, and the Golden State Warriors should make that phone call.https://t.co/SOkm6x4POi
— Morten Stig Jensen (@msjnba) November 13, 2022
In his beast season, JC averaged 21.6 points and 10.1 rebounds 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. It’s been an underwhelming start for Collins, and Morten Jensen believes it’s time for the Hawks to trade him so he can grow elsewhere.
The trade hypothetical is… interesting, to say the least.
“Enter the Golden State Warriors.”
The defending NBA champions are struggling out of the gate following the departures of key bench pieces in Gary Payton II and Otto Porter Jr., while the development of James Wiseman, Jonathan Kuminga, and Moses Moody hasn’t been as fast expected. An influx of talent could certainly propel them to another title run as Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green enter the twilight years of their careers. But this potential trade package isn’t enticing at all for the Hawks
“Matching salary would be fairly straightforward, as Wiseman, Kuminga, and Kevon Looney amounts to $22.3 million. While this adds to Golden State’s luxury tax bill, a Collins acquisition would dramatically improve their chances of repeating as champions this season.”
Adding a bunch of young developmental projects isn’t conducive to winning championships, and there’s no chance Travis Schlenk is interested in a framework surrounding Wiseman, Kuminga, and Looney. But Jensen knows this.
“Of course, a third team could be added to the trade as to re-route Wiseman and Kuminga to a team more inclined to focus on the long-term. Here, a team like the Sacramento Kings might make sense, especially if they ultimately accept that they don’t stand a strong chance of getting into the playoffs this season. Moving off of Harrison Barnes, who is on an expiring contract, wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world, if they lean into a youth movement. Barnes would make a strong theoretical fit with Hunter in Atlanta, as the duo would be entirely interchangeable at the forward slots.”
Essentially, the trade would net the Hawks Harrison Barnes in Jensen’s hypothetical. And if that were the case, I imagine the Hawks would hang up the phone. The 12-year veteran is averaging 11.3 points per game on the least efficient shooting of his career from beyond the arc. He might be a better defensive option than Collins, but I’m not quite sure that gets the Hawks over the hump. It’s a trade that results in a net zero outcome for Atlanta.
Photographer: Austin McAfee/Icon Sportswire