The Atlanta Hawks went on a shopping spree this offseason. They committed almost $160 million to four high-profile free agents: Bogdan Bogdanovic, Danilo Gallinari, Rajon Rondo and Kris Dunn. The additions were meant to key a playoff push, but in the process, it left the Hawks with so much money committed to veterans that they were not comfortable spending any more on one of their core youngsters. The Hawks offered big man John Collins a $90 million extension before the season, far below what he was asking for, and predictably, could not get a deal done.
Now the Hawks are willing to listen to trade offers for Collins, according to The Athletic's Sam Amick, but that comes with a caveat. They are unlikely to actually trade him because of how important he's been to the playoff push that those veterans were signed to make.
Collins has seen his role reduced slightly on a deeper roster, but is still averaging an efficient 18.5 points and 7.8 rebounds per game. More importantly, he's producing those numbers in a low-maintenance manner. He has scored the sixth-most points off of cuts in the entire NBA, is shooting over 40 percent on 3-pointers and rarely posts up or isolates. Collins has taken a backseat to Atlanta's other ballhandlers and mastered the art of scoring off of the clean looks that they generate. That would seemingly make him an ideal fit alongside a high-usage point guard like Trae Young, and when the two have played together this season, the Hawks are outscoring opponents by 12.1 points per 100 possessions. They've been Atlanta's two best players this season, and with Collins improving defensively alongside Clint Capela, should represent Atlanta's core for the foreseeable future.
But Collins still isn't under contract beyond this season. He will be a restricted free agent when this season ends, and given the imbalance between teams with cap space and talent available to fill it, is almost certain to receive a max offer of some sort. The most an opposing team could offer Collins would be a four-year deal in the neighborhood of $121 million. If that is the deal Collins wants, he is likely to find it, but a strategy teams frequently employ in an effort to steal restricted free agents away from their original team involves shorter deals that would get the player back on the market faster. Offer sheets must have two guaranteed seasons and an option year, so in theory, Collins could sign a deal that gets him back on the market as an unrestricted free agent as soon as 2023. That would give Atlanta less leverage in possibly trading him down the line.
Of course, the Hawks could avoid all of this by merely offering Collins a five-year deal at a number close to his max. That would likely keep him off of the market entirely. But all indications so far this season have been that Atlanta is hesitant to commit to Collins, so whether it's in a trade this season or free agency over the summer, teams will continue trying to poach Atlanta's talented young big man.