The 2022 NBA Draft is just over one week away and anticipation around the league regarding trade chatter continues to grow. One key story that has evolved over the last couple of weeks is connected to the Atlanta Hawks and forward John Collins, whose future has been discussed at length throughout the course of the 2021-22 season.
Collins signed a five-year, $125 million deal with the Hawks ahead of the 2021-22 season, but negotiations were stalled several times before the two sides came to an agreement last summer. Then, during this past season, The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported on the tension within the Hawks organization, stating that Collins had grown “increasingly frustrated with his role in Atlanta” prior to the trade deadline.
Coming off a 43-39 record, the Hawks are scrambling for answers on how to build around Trae Young and there does seem to be a level of interest ahead of the 2022 NBA Draft in possibly moving up from their 16th overall selection.
In his most recent mock draft, The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor mentioned that the Hawks are looking to add a lottery pick by “outright trading John Collins or also including this selection,” referencing Atlanta’s No. 16 pick in next Thursday’s draft.
The idea of moving on from John Collins this offseason continues to grow and with some teams scheduled to pick in the lottery having interest in Collins, the Hawks could very well pull-the-trigger on a deal involving their young forward within the next week or so.
You never know what to expect ahead of the NBA Draft in regards to possible trades and we could see one of these three trade scenarios involving Collins play out.
Portland Pairs John Collins With Damian Lillard
Portland Trail Blazers Receive: F John Collins, ATL 2022 2nd Round Pick (Pick #44)
Atlanta Hawks Receive: G Eric Bledsoe, F Justise Winslow, POR 2022 1st Round Pick (Pick #7)
The one team that seems to be the most connected to a potential John Collins trade right now is the Portland Trail Blazers simply because they need to surround Damian Lillard with “winning talent” and they have been very vocal about the idea of trading their No. 7 pick in this year’s draft.
Newly appointed GM Joe Cronin is looking to turn things around in Portland right away and while they could settle on a young, high-potential draft pick in the Top-10 of this year’s draft, it makes the most sense for Cronin’s first move to be one that gets Trail Blazers’ fans energized and excited for the 2022-23 season.
Going out and trading for John Collins is by no means a move that elevates the Blazers back to postseason contention, but they would suddenly have a very solid foundation to build around in free agency and beyond.
Assuming they bring back Anfernee Simons in free agency, Portland would be looking at a core of Damian Lillard, John Collins, Anfernee Simons, Josh Hart and Nassir Little, not to mention Jusuf Nurkic if they decide to bring the veteran big man back in free agency as well.
The Blazers have options right now and going after an established player like Collins who has All-Star-like potential at the power-forward position makes perfect sense given that he can play off of Lillard in pick-and-roll situations, as well as push the pace in transition.
As for the Atlanta Hawks, they would be able to get the lottery pick they are looking for and add one of the better talents in this year’s draft class to pair with Trae Young long-term. The Hawks have too many needs as an organization right now, which is why going through some sort of a “soft reset” does make sense.
Eric Bledsoe could be a steady veteran presence for Atlanta, especially since they need a backup guard behind Young, and Justise Winslow could replace Collins’ production as a versatile forward for the 2022-23 season.
Both Bledsoe and Winslow have one year left on their respective contracts, giving the Hawks immediate cap flexibility following the 2022-23 season.
Atlanta Adds Depth Via San Antonio
San Antonio Spurs Receive: F John Collins, ATL 2022 1st Round Pick (Pick #16)
Atlanta Hawks Receive: F Doug McDermott, G Romeo Langford, SAS 2022 1st Round Pick (Pick #9), BOS 2022 1st Round Pick (Pick #25, via SAS)
Reaching the Play-In Tournament was a big step in the right direction for the San Antonio Spurs this season, as was the emergence of first-time All-Star Dejounte Murray and Keldon Johnson out on the wing.
The Spurs have some really solid young pieces on their roster, which is why adding more of a foundation with John Collins is something that should be very intriguing for them.
San Antonio is always very quiet and you never know what to expect from them as an organization in the NBA Draft, but based off of first-glance, it is hard to imagine a talent equal to that of Collins falling to the Spurs with their ninth overall selection.
Packaging this pick along with Doug McDermott, Romeo Langford and one of their later first-round picks at 25th overall allows the Spurs to get their hands on an impact power-forward, as well as move up to the 16th overall pick.
By making this trade, the Spurs would upgrade their frontcourt with John Collins and they would not only own the 16th overall pick via Atlanta, but they would also still have the 20th overall pick they currently own from the Toronto Raptors.
McDermott and Langford are nothing more than role players on San Antonio’s roster right now, which is why leveraging two first-round picks for Collins could really push this team into the playoff picture in the Western Conference.
It is hard to imagine where Romeo Langford would fit into the Hawks’ long-term picture, but he is a 22-year-old shooting guard that still has potential to grow. A former lottery pick in 2019, Langford is in the final year of his rookie contract, making this a gamble-free move for Atlanta since they could let him walk in free agency should the young guard not pan out.
As for Doug McDermott, he is a sharpshooting forward that can supply the Hawks with some much needed perimeter scoring depth. The futures of Bogdan Bogdanovic and Danilo Gallinari have been questioned, which is why the Hawks will need to look for some more scoring talent, especially on the wing, around Trae Young.
Moving up from the 16th overall pick to the 9th overall pick in this year’s draft allows the Hawks to get what they have been looking for in regards to a lottery pick, but moving Collins for the 25th overall selection and two bench talents maybe not be the right amount of value the Hawks are looking for in a trade involving their young forward.
Along with the Trail Blazers, the Spurs are definitely a team that could show a lot of interest in acquiring John Collins ahead of the 2022 NBA Draft, especially since they have three first-round draft picks.
Pacers Continue To Add High-Level Talent
Indiana Pacers Receive: F John Collins, F Jalen Johnson, ATL 2022 1st Round Pick (Pick #16), ATL 2022 2nd Round Pick (Pick #44)
Atlanta Hawks Receive: G/F Buddy Hield, IND 2022 1st Round Pick (Pick #6)
This trade is certainly an option that the Hawks could explore, but it is hard to imagine the Indiana Pacers would show interest.
The Pacers seem to be focused on a handful of guys with the No. 6 overall pick right now and while John Collins is a really solid young player and potential long-term building block, Indiana really does not want any part of him.
They did not have interest in him during the 2017 NBA Draft, as the Pacers selected T.J. Leaf 18th overall ahead of Collins who went 19th overall to the Hawks, and it is hard to imagine the Pacers have had a change of heart in regards to their feelings about John Collins.
Jalen Johnson, the 16th pick and the 44th pick in this year’s draft are not bad assets to take back in this trade, but Buddy Hield played well in Indiana when he was traded there ahead of this past year’s trade deadline and as mentioned before, the Pacers are excited about what the 6th overall pick will bring them this year.
From Atlanta’s standpoint, this is a great trade for them not only because they get a sure-thing scorer from the perimeter in Buddy Hield, but because they also score the 6th overall pick, allowing them to add one of the better prospects in this year’s draft to pair with Trae Young long-term.
While this is certainly a scenario that Atlanta could pursue, there is just no way that the Pacers would be open to discussing a deal like this. They are not getting the right value in return for such a high draft pick and Hield, especially since they do not view Collins as a high-end player in this league.
Based on the trajectory of the Indiana Pacers heading into the offseason and this year’s draft, this is a trade that they would decline without hesitation, but is still certainly an option for the Atlanta Hawks to offer and possibly try to pursue.