Why trading John Collins will be difficult
The Hawks know how good Collins was and can still be if maximized. They’ll likely ask for a trade return that factors in his current age and contract but act as if his production is still the same as it was when he was 21 and 22. On the other end of the spectrum, the team trading for him should act as if his production has been trending down (because it has) and could rightly say that a player averaging 13 points per game who is owed over $25 million each of the following three seasons is not exactly a terrific contract.
The difference in perception and reality could lead to no deal getting done. The Hawks’ don’t have to trade Collins. He’s still a significant part of their team, his defense continues to improve, and although he’s shooting abysmally from 3-point range this season (25.9%) that figure will almost certainly tick way up (career 35.8% and 37.6% before this season). Unless some team decides they absolutely need Collins, there’s very little chance Atlanta gets an offer that will allow them to make a massive move. And there is no point moving Collins if you can’t get enough to make a significant upgrade because Collins, even in a limited role, is still a solid player.
The Hawks have no one to blame but themselves
It’s the Hawks’ fault they’re selling low on Collins, but it was also somewhat necessary. Trae Young is better than John Collins, but he is substantially more flawed. To make up for his flaws, they acquire another flawed player, Clint Capela. Young is all offense, and Capela is all defense, but because Collins can do both, he ended up being the player squeezed for the betterment of the team.
To assert that the Atlanta Hawks fumbled Collins’ development is neither true nor false. The best way to describe it is to say, “it’s complicated.” Yes, Collins did post impressive scoring totals and efficiency at an incredibly young age, and yes, the Hawks have minimized his offensive role in each subsequent season. However, there were legitimate reasons for the Hawks to go that route. Unfortunately, it makes trading Collins for a return worthy of his talents incredibly difficult.
John Collins is a really good NBA player. He is a power forward that provides solid weakside rim protection, perimeter defense, and floor spacing, and is an exceptional roll man. The Hawks should trade him, but they will also have to come to terms with the reality that his trade value isn’t what it should be. In all likelihood, Collins stays a Hawk past the trade deadline and is moved in the offseason.