The Utah Jazz, who traded their two best players and other veterans last offseason and were expected to be in the Victor Wembanyama sweepstakes, instead sit atop the West at 12-6. The sense around the league now is that the Jazz will let this play out. They look like a playoff team, and Lauri Markkanen is playing the best basketball of his career, and Danny Ainge and company are not going to blow this team up.
But they might add to it, they have expressed interest in a John Collins trade, according to multiple reports. First, there was Shams Charania of The Athletic.
"The Utah Jazz are another team, I'm told, that has made an inquiry and has shown interest in recent weeks and months."
— The Rally (@TheRally) November 18, 2022
A report that the Suns have interest in Collins was forcefully shot down by Phoenix-based radio host and insider John Gambadoro, but league sources confirmed Utah is among the teams to express interest in the Atlanta forward…
Collins is averaging just 12.4 points per game and shooting 23.4% from 3-point range for the Hawks to go with 7.9 RPG, accounting for his lowest scoring average since his rookie season in 2017-18, but the 25-year-old is obviously still far closer to the win-now line than developmental prospect.
Yet another illustration of Utah’s apparent willingness to let its current team land wherever it lands in the standings… One rival team official told me he thinks that the Jazz are more likely to extend organizational favorite Jordan Clarkson‘s contract before they consider trading him. Clarkson, 30, is averaging career-highs in scoring (18.6 PPG) and assists (4.6 APG).
It seems very Danny Ainge to pick up an athletic, young player while he is struggling — and his trade value is low — and try to prop him up.
The Jazz have veterans and a variety of larger salaries to make a trade work. For example, Mike Conley for Collins works straight up, although the Hawks have their backcourt set (Trae Young and Dejounte Murray) and would they want to trade young for old like that? Malik Beasley and Talen Horton Tucker combine for a salary match, but the Hawks will want picks or other players to make that work. That said, a deal could be worked out.
Nothing is imminent, but a Collins trade seems like it’s coming at some point and Utah might be the best landing spot for him.