The Boston Celtics have found themselves connected to a potential John Collins trade for the third season in a row.
Collins is currently a member of the Atlanta Hawks and recently signed a five-year $125 million extension. However, despite the 24-year-old’s efficiency, his usage rate has dwindled over the last 18 months, with him morphing into a role player rather than the offensive focal point his skillset demands.
Yet, despite the rumors surrounding the Hawks’ willingness to change their team, Celtics insider Brian Robb doesn’t believe the Celtics will finally land their man. Not because Boston wouldn’t be interested in the sharpshooting big, but because they lack the assets to get a deal done without including All-Star wing Jaylen Brown in the deal.
“Just like with Haliburton, a starting package of Smart/Rob Williams probably isn’t enough to push the needle (especially since Hawks have Clint Cappella locked up long term). The only thing that probably gets the Hawks to consider moving Collins is talking about Jaylen Brown in a deal (with Collins and more heading back to Boston) and league sources indicate Boston isn’t willing to go there with the All-Star this year,” Robb wrote in a recent mailbag article for MassLive.
NBA Insider Keith Smith Sees a Path to a Trade
NBA Insider Keith Smith recently discussed the possibility of adding Collins to the Celtics roster on an episode of the CelticsBlog podcast, noting that Boston does have viable trade options in their pursuit of the long-time trade target.
“John Collins seems like maybe he’s available from the Hawks as they reset, and while Horford has to go to be the reasonable salary match, we’re gonna give you picks, kids, whatever you want. If we come out of this on the backside with Robert Williams, John Collins, Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and Marcus Smart, we’re looking pretty solid,” Smith said.
If the Celtics did strike a deal for Collins, it would become increasingly likely to border into blockbuster territory. Sure, an agreement of Al Horford, two young guys (most likely Grant Williams and Romeo Langford or Aaron Nesmith), and a bevy of draft picks isn’t much to get excited about, but it would begin clearing the deck for Boston.
If Stevens removed some of the developmental players from the roster, it would give Ime Udoka more room to maneuver with his rotations. He wouldn’t need to focus on developing young talent that hasn’t earned their minutes when given an opportunity.
Collins Solves Most of Boston’s Issues
Collins has spent 75% of his playing time at the power forward position and 25% at the center position (if we ignore the 2% he spent at small forward as a rookie). Collins is the perfect addition if Udoka wants to run a two-big lineup.
The Utah native is a career 39% three-point shooter on 2.5 attempts per game and averages 8.4 boards per game since becoming a professional. Furthermore, Collins’ addition to the Celtics would allow Tatum to slide back into a small forward role, allowing him to use his size and strength to a more significant advantage and shoot over the top of defenders more consistently.
Outside of his shooting and rebounding, Collins is a proven veteran who is used to playing alongside ball-dominant stars, having spent the last few seasons backing up Trae Young for the Hawks. Cleaning The Glass has the 6-foot-10 big as having a 17.8% usage rate this year, which is the lowest since his rookie year, yet his efficiency hasn’t skipped a beat – Boston could use that sort of consistency, pronto.
It might cost the Celtics some of their younger players, but with the Hawks recently moving on from Cam Reddish, who was traded to the New York Knicks in early January, they may be happy to take some cost-controlled projects back as part of a more extensive package.
The trade deadline is still over a month away, and plenty of other teams will register their interest in the versatile big man; all we can hope is that the Celtics are players in those discussions.