Posted on: December 2, 2022, 10:15h.
Last updated on: December 2, 2022, 11:55h.
Atlanta Hawks power forward John Collins could miss up to two weeks while recovering from an ankle injury. Despite his incapacitation, the Phoenix Suns and Golden State Warriors expressed interest in acquiring Collins in a trade with the Hawks.
Collins sprained his left ankle on Wednesday night in Orlando in a victory against the Magic. Collins only logged 17 minutes and scored six points with seven rebounds for the Hawks before exiting with the injury.
The Hawks improved to 12-10 and have the sixth-best record in the Eastern Conference. They sit in first place in the Southeast Division with a one-game lead over the Washington Wizards and a two-game edge over the Miami Heat. The Hawks are a slight favorite at -105 odds to win the Southeast over the Heat (+120) and the Wizards (+600).
The Hawks are +5000 odds to win the 2022-23 NBA championship, which is the same as their ranking in the preseason. They improved to +3500 odds a couple of weeks ago, but slipped back to +5000 after a 3-5 stretch over their previous eight games.
The Hawks are +2000 odds to win the Eastern Conference and lock up a spot in the 2023 NBA Finals.
(Another) Down Year for Collins in ATL
Collins led the Hawks in scoring with 24 points in an opening-night victory against the Houston Rockets, but he was the leading scorer only one other time all season.
In 18 games this season, either Trae Young or Dejounte Murray led the Hawks in scoring. The exciting backcourt duo combined for 48.7 points per game.
Young leads the Hawks with 27.8 points and 9.6 assists per game. Murray averages 20.9 points, 6.6 assists, and 5.8 rebounds per game in his first season with the Hawks. The team acquired Murray for three first-round draft picks in an off-season trade with the San Antonio Spurs. Murray provided the Hawks with a huge upgrade on their defense and is a reliable secondary scoring option behind Young.
Collins wanted to be that guy. But he’s seen his role in the offense diminish over the last few seasons with the rise of Young. In the 2019-20 season, Collins averaged a career-best 21.6 points and 10.1 rebounds per game. His scoring average decreased every season since then from 17.6 ppg in 2020-21 to 16.2 ppg last season. Collins averages 12.3 points and 7.5 rebounds per game this season.
Collins missed 18 games toward the end of last season with a hand injury, and was disappointed that the Hawks didn’t deal him at the trade deadline. He hasn’t been shy about his desire to get out of Atlanta.
Power forward Onyeka Okongwu could slide into the starting five while Collins recovers from his ankle injury. Okongwu averages 7.5 points and 6.1 rebounds off the bench this season. Small forward Jalen Johnson (4.4 points, 2.9 rebounds) should also see an uptick in playing time while Collins is out.
Suns, Warriors Eyeing Collins in a Trade
Collins is in the second year of a $125 million contract extension. The Portland Trail Blazers expressed interest in a trade for Collins over the summer, but the Hawks didn’t deal him to Rip City. The Blazers acquired forward Jerami Grant instead.
The Suns want to move power forward Jae Crowder, who has been sitting out this season because of a contract dispute. The Hawks aren’t so keen on Crowder, and prefer to replenish draft picks, which they coughed up to the Spurs in the Murray trade.
The Athletic reported that the Hawks and Brooklyn Nets had a brief chat about including Collins in a deal for Durant. But the Nets are seeking a trade package that’s heavy on draft picks.
The Philadelphia 76ers would like to trade forward Tobias Harris and his $37 million salary. However, the 76ers would have to include Shake Milton and/or Matisse Thybulle in any trade to the Hawks involving Collins and a couple of other players as a salary match. Once again, the Hawks are seeking draft picks in exchange for Collins, so any trade with the 76ers seems unlikely.
The defending champion Golden State Warriors are also on the short list of Collins’ suitors. The Warriors can offer the Hawks a pair of recent top seven draft picks. Center James Wiseman and power forward Jonathan Kuminga were floated in trade rumors involving Collins. Wiseman is the #2 pick from the 2020 NBA Draft, while Kuminga was selected seventh overall in 2021.