Insider Weighs in on Celtics Potentially Trading for Hawks Star

Brad Stevens, Celtics

Getty Brad Stevens, Celtics

The Celtics have had a nice run lately, pulling themselves out from the NBA doldrums of early January, when they sank all the way to 18-21 and 11th place in the East, back over .500 now and in position to make a move to rise into the Top 7.

There remains, though, a sense that the team still needs to find a way to add a third star to the core of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, and there has been ample speculation that Boston would at least consider a deal for disgruntled star forward John Collins.

The Hawks are also known to have eyes for Marcus Smart, and a deal featuring Smart and Josh Richardson would work financially for the two sides. It would not, though, work for the Hawks in terms of talent, and the Celtics would need to add at least one first-round pick to the bargain—perhaps more.

That would put Boston in the position of mortgaging a part of its future to bring in Collins. More than that, it would mean the team taking on the remaining $100 million on Collins’ contract, and with intentions—or, at least, hope—of making a splash this summer on the trade market, moving for Collins would leave the Celtics locked in to their roster, for better or worse.

Celtics Want to Have a Summer of ‘Fertile Trading Ground’

That combination of factors, the inability to make a move to add a star next year and the difficulty of finding suitable assets for the Hawks, renders a deal on Collins almost impossible, as NBA insider Steve Bulpett discussed in a Facebook Live chat:

I wonder what they’d have to give up for him and I kind of doubt they would be willing to give up as much as the Hawks would want or would need.

He’s a really nice player and you see the things he does, I have an affinity for the guys who do the simple stuff, the basic stuff, every time. … I am not sure how it would work with what the Hawks would need to make that happen. The Celtics would be saying, ‘We’re done now,’ this summer, saying this summer is not going to be the fertile trading ground that they were, I think, looking at.

VideoVideo related to insider weighs in on celtics potentially trading for hawks star2022-02-02T15:54:20-05:00

Fertile ground sounds intriguing, of course, and it could mean anything from a full-scale blockbuster involving star Jaylen Brown to a more modest move involving a packet of draft picks for a reliable point guard. The Celtics have seemed like a team in transition this season—unsure of their identity—and they’ve played like one.

Collins’ Scoring Has Dipped

Collins has seen his scoring average decline each of the last three seasons, from 21.6 points to 17.6 points to 16.7 points this year. He remains a very efficient scorer, though, shooting 53.9% from the field and 39.3% from the 3-point line. He is a very good rim-running big man, though he is not a great defensive player.

Even if it is unlikely the Celtics put forth any real pursuit of Collins this season, there is the offseason. Boston might be looking at reeling in a bigger star then, but Collins could be a nice fallback option, especially if he continues to want out of Atlanta.

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