Now that the Miami Heat are firmly out of the James Harden sweepstakes, is time to turn their attention elsewhere? They have recently been loosely linked to big men Otto Porter and Blake Griffin, but another (more attainable) name deserves attention.
Atlanta Hawks power forward John Collins appears to be unhappy with both his contract situation and the way the team runs their offense through All-Star guard Trae Young. There was already building friction there after Collins turned down Atlanta’s $90 million extension in the preseason. If the former first-round pick is taking shots at the face of the franchise, the writing may be on the wall for the 6-foot-9, 235-pounder.
Young: "There will be times where we'll talk and times where teammates will talk about what we see we can get better at. That's a part basketball. You talk, communicate and don't always agree with each other. That's just a part of what makes this game so fun. You learn and grow." https://t.co/vHcnfGiGx0
— Chris Kirschner (@ChrisKirschner) January 8, 2021
One day after Collins’ comments, Young looked lethargic on the court and scored only seven points on a dismal 2-of-9 shooting in a 102-94 loss to the Charlotte Hornets. It’s too early to say for certain, but something might have to give. Bleacher Report had previously called Collins a “high flight risk” due to the big man’s inability to develop into a complete player and his insane monetary demands. He’s averaging 17.9 points and 7.5 rebounds per game in eight games.
“I definitely feel like I am in max contract contention. If I finish this season averaging 20 and 10, the other guys who are averaging 20 and 10 are max-caliber guys,” Collins told The Athletic on Dec. 26. “I’m in that conversation and feel like I am worthy of being extended as such. That’s for the Hawks to decide and figure it out. If you want to look at numbers and flat-out play, I definitely feel like I’ve earned it. But the team situation, future cap and all that, now you have a contract negotiation.”
DON'T JUMP WITH JOHN COLLINS 😤 pic.twitter.com/XwRKlXLSKR
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) January 2, 2021
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Should Heat Make Offer for Collins?
The Heat are still trying to fill the void left by Jae Crowder at power forward so naturally making a pitch for Collins would make sense. However, is it feasible considering the asking price? And not just in terms of trade assets but then you have to lock Collins up to a max rookie contract extension or at least $100 million.
John Collins turned down a very big contract extension in hopes of getting a max from all the reporting. Is he a max player? Probably not. Challenge with that is that there are more teams with cap space than max players this summer.
As the old saying goes: "It only takes one."
— Keith Smith (@KeithSmithNBA) January 8, 2021
Meanwhile, there are rumors that the Heat pulled out of talks for Harden because they are possibly trying to clear cap space and make a run at a marquee free agent in 2021 like Kawhi Leonard, LaMarcus Aldridge, Victor Oladipo, or Rudy Gobert. Miami has roughly $26.9 million in cap space next summer, per Spotrac.
Laying Out Framework for Collins to Miami
Miami would want to move veteran forward Andre Iguodala in any trade. The 36-year-old is a free agent in 2021, plus his skills appear to be on the decline after losing his starting spot to Kelly Olynyk. They would reportedly be open to including KZ Okpala, Kendrick Nunn and Precious Achiuwa in any package for a stretch four like Collins.
Very 🔥🔥🔥🤔 https://t.co/dR062tNd5j
— 𝙃𝙀𝘼𝙏 𝙉𝘼𝙏𝙄𝙊𝙉 (@HeatvsHaters) January 8, 2021
The sticking point always comes back to Duncan Robinson and Tyler Herro. The two young sharpshooters are on everyone’s wish list in trade talks, but Heat president Pat Riley has been unwilling to part with either shooting guard to date. And certainly not both of them.
Would swapping Iguodala, Nunn, Achiuwa be enough to pry Collins away from Atlanta’s clutches? That might depend on how bad the locker room was fractured with his comments about Young. One thing is for sure: Collins would instantly upgrade the Heat front court and could morph him into a double-double machine playing alongside Bam Adebayo. That alone is worth the phone call.
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