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4 free agent forwards the Houston Rockets need to target

ATLANTA, GEORGIA - DECEMBER 28: John Collins #20 of the Atlanta Hawks reacts after a basket against the Detroit Pistons during the second half at State Farm Arena on December 28, 2020 in Atlanta, Georgia. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GEORGIA - DECEMBER 28: John Collins #20 of the Atlanta Hawks reacts after a basket against the Detroit Pistons during the second half at State Farm Arena on December 28, 2020 in Atlanta, Georgia. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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Houston Rockets
John Collins #20 of the Atlanta Hawks (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images)

Houston Rocket free-agent forward target #1: John Collins

If the Rockets do pursue Lauri Markkanen then that means they missed out on signing John Collins. Collins is everything that Markkanen is on offense as a shooter but offers much more of a vertical threat and is a staunch defender.

It has been reported that the Hawks offered Collins an extension worth more than $90 million that he turned down because he wants a max deal that pays him in the neighborhood of $125 million over four years. If Collins wants the max, then the Rockets should give Collins the max.

Much like the Bulls’ situation with Markkanen, the Hawks have the ability to match any offer made to Collins, but it remains to be seen if they want to pony up that type of money. The Hawks, without a Collins extension, have $93.4 million in salary commitments for next season.

Adding more than $30 million to that ledger gets them close to $125 million in salary, but it’s the years after that could give them pause in giving Collins the deal he wants. Trae Young is set for an extension that will kick in 2022-23 and if he is earning $30 million-plus then the Hawks will have over $136 million in salary commitments for 2022-23.

If the Hawks become squeamish about paying Collins, then the Rockets should capitalize as their salary cap sheet is set to open up dramatically over the next few seasons. If the Rockets want to land Collins they’ll need to not only back up the brinks truck but also sell him on their vision of the future.

The pairing of Collins and Wood would be one of the most lethal inside out frontcourt in league history. If the Rockets land a top-four pick this year and sign Collins, with the future assets they have, they could be a real up-and-coming team in as few as two seasons.

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John Collins deserves the max. The Rockets should be the team that gives it to him. If the Hawks match, so be it. It’s a move the Rockets need to make. Unless being the worst team in the league is the goal.

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