Exec Reveals Celtics Interest Level in $125 Million Big

John Collins

Getty John Collins #20, Atlanta Hawks

In a November 21 HoopsHype story, Michael Scotto revealed that big man John Collins could be among the players who may not be playing for the Atlanta Hawks for much longer.

“Following the four-year, $95 million extension with forward De’Andre Hunter, rival NBA executives believe Atlanta will likely have to part with either forward John Collins, swingman Bogdan Bogdanovic, or center Clint Capela to avoid looming luxury tax concerns next season,” Scotto said.

If Collins were to become available on the trade market, would the Boston Celtics be interested in him? An Eastern Conference executive revealed to Heavy Sports’ Sean Deveney why that wouldn’t be the case.

“It would cost them Marcus Smart, so the answer has to be no there. They’re not moving Smart,” the exec said. “In the summer, they were trying to make the offer they made for (Malcolm) Brogdon to a lot of teams, and Atlanta was one of them. You know, Aaron Nesmith and (Daniel) Theis and a whole bunch of filler and a first-round pick, but that was never going to be enough to get them Collins. A guy with Brogdon’s injury history, that was doable. But Collins is too good for that package.”

On June 24, Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report reported on his show “Please Don’t Aggregate This” that the Celtics had called about Collins, but talks never went anywhere.

“I do know that Boston called about him at one point in this draft cycle, but never brought this up publicly previously because I was told that it was never very serious that we’re going to get very far.”

Celtics Will Search for More Trades

After revealing the Celtics’ level of interest in Collins, the exec also revealed what kind of trade the Celtics will look for this season.

“They will keep looking for upgrades on the fringes, but they’re done hunting for big-change players,” the exec told Deveney. “They’re looking to solidify the bench, not to overhaul the roster.”

The Celtics have multiple assets in their arsenal to improve their roster. They have the $6.9 million Juancho Hernangomez trade exception and the $5.9 million Dennis Schroder trade exception among the several trade exceptions. They even have the $3.23 million Disabled Player Exception that they were awarded after Danilo Gallinari tore his ACL before the season started.

The Celtics are a league-best 17-4 right now, so there’s no need to make any seismic changes to the roster.

‘Good Chance’ Celtics Replace Two Players Midseason

If the Celtics plan to add reinforcements midseason, an Eastern Conference executive told Deveney that the Celtics would likely get rid of Noah Vonleh and/or Justin Jackson to make room for them.

“Either (Vonleh) or (Justin) Jackson or maybe both, in the end,” the exec told Deveney. “If they’re looking to add something, though, it is probably a wing. That would mean Jackson probably is out. But when we get to the buyout market, by the time we get to the playoffs, there is a good chance both Jackson and Vonleh get replaced.”

Jackson and Vonleh are playing on nonguaranteed contracts. As of November 29, Vonleh has played 15 games for the Celtics, which is almost four the times the amount he played for his previous team, the Brooklyn Nets, during the 2020-21 season.

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