Minnesota has the worst record in the NBA, yet they might be buyers at the trade deadline.
Atlanta has a John Collins decision to make — do they want to pay a max or near-max contract this summer to keep the bouncy and skilled 23-year-old stretch four? — and other teams are watching closely. There is some trade buzz around Collins heading into the deadline, but the price to get him would be steep.
“Minnesota is dying to have him [Collins]. Minnesota wants him bad. What will they offer? I don’t know. They really want him. I think there are other teams too, but Minnesota particularly.”
This is not new news, Shams Charania of The Athletic had reported before the Timberwolves were looking at Collins and Orlando’s Aaron Gordon. Darren Wolfson and others have mentioned it as well.
The problem would be putting a trade together. Atlanta doesn’t want to take a step back, it has a mandate from ownership to make the playoffs — a slow first half of the season cost Lloyd Pierce his job — and Collins is a big part of the Hawks winning games right now. To get a deal done, Atlanta would want good young players (Anthony Edwards?) and likely multiple picks, and with Collins only making $4.1 million this season, it would turn into a multi-player, maybe multi-team deal.
Collins is averaging 17.8 points and 7.6 rebounds this season, plus he is a solid rim protector. He brings valuable skills but reportedly has been frustrated with an Atlanta offense run through Trae Young. His skill set also overlaps with Clint Capela, the center the Hawks signed as a free agent. Atlanta offered Collins a $90 million extension, but the sides could not reach an agreement before the season because Collins is rumored to want the max offer.
Collins is a restricted free agent this summer and another team with cap space likely will offer the max. Maybe a sign-and-trade gets done in the offseason (maybe with Minnesota), but it’s difficult to see how a deal comes together at the deadline.
Just know, if Collins is leaving Atlanta, Minnesota wants to land him.