The Boston Celtics have long been rumored to hold an interest in John Collins of the Atlanta Hawks.
In fact, it’s a saga that stems back multiple off-seasons at this point, with nothing tangible to show for it. However, it now seems like Atlanta is willing to part ways with the multi-talented forward, and that could give Boston inroads to finally land their man.
According to Matt Moore of Action Network, the Celtics are known to have registered their interest in Collins since the end of the season, as have the Chicago Bulls and Sacramento Kings.
“Boston, Chicago, and Sacramento are three other teams that have shown interest in Collins, sources have said over the last few weeks. It’s a little surprising Collins’ market isn’t stronger. He averaged 16-8 on a miserable team last season, is a proven contributor at a high level in the playoffs and gives good effort on both ends of the floor. Collins’ defense is his weak point, but at 24, he should improve significantly there over the next four seasons,” Moore wrote on June 29.
Collins is entering the second year of his five-year $125 million contract, with his annual salary set at $25 million. With such a high salary, the Celtics will be unable to utilize their Evan Fournier trade exception in any potential deal, meaning they will need to match salary by sending valuable assets back to Atlanta, and that could yet prove to be a sticking point.
Hawks Trade Makes Collins Acquisition More Difficult
On June 29, ESPN’S Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the Atlanta Hawks and San Antonio Spurs had agreed on a trade that paired Dejounte Murray with Trae Young moving forward. For the Hawks, Murray’s addition will solve a long-standing issue of pairing a reliable defender alongside Young’s offensive brilliance.
However, by making that trade, the Hawks effectively nullified the best offer Boston could put on the table for Collins. Marcus Smart was the Celtics player who made the most sense in headlining a trade for Collins, specifically due to his defensive upside and ability to reset a locker room’s culture.
Suddenly, Boston’s best route to adding Collins was taken away, and now it’s unlikely they have enough assets to entice Atlanta into doing business. Yet, Boston can take some solace in the rumors that the Hawks are willing to move on from the impressive forward.
Atlanta Reportedly Shopping Collins
Collins isn’t just a hot commodity this off-season, the Hawks have actively been putting his name out into the ether, as they look to reduce their cap sheet and get some additional assets back in return for their star forward.
According to Marc Stein’s June 20 Newsletter, the chances of Collins being traded this summer are ‘higher than they’ve ever been.’
“The likelihood of a John Collins trade, league sources indicate, is as high as it’s ever been. Collins just completed the first season of a five-year, $125 million contract, but the newness of his deal didn’t do anything to downgrade external interest in the 6-foot-9 forward that has bubbled leaguewide since talks broke down between Collins and Hawks on a $90 million extension at the start of the 2020-21 season,” Stein wrote on June 20.
It remains to be seen if Boston is going to shore up their interest in a player they have been tracking for multiple seasons, or if they deem the asking price to be too high. However, we can be sure that the Celtics will be active in the coming weeks, as they look to fill the holes that saw them fall short against the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals.