John Collins Trading Qualities: Why Hawks and Jazz Were Perfect Partners to Enable a Win-Win Deal

The Atlanta Hawks finally traded John Collins on Monday, reportedly sending him to the Utah Jazz in exchange for Rudy Gay – who exercised his $6.4 million player option for the 2023-24 season as part of the deal, and a – future second player – round pickaxe, per ESPN.

Collins has lived on trade rumors for the past few years, but the Hawks’ previous front office, led by Travis Schlenk, never pulled the trigger as it waited for a more attractive deal that never materialized. So now Collins is a direct pay cut for a team with ample leeway to absorb the roughly $78 million he still has left on his contract.

It works pretty much perfectly. The Hawks have to take a pay cut. Jazz is able to absorb it. Let’s evaluate trading.

Atlanta Hawks: B+

To the extent that Collins fell in Atlanta, became an almost invisible part of the offense, and became a sub-30% 3-point shooter, it’s still a hard thing to digest from a certain perspective. This is a guy who averaged 21 points and 10 rebounds on 40% 3-point shots for a year before Atlanta signed him to a five-year, $125 million contract in 2021.

For a player who once functioned either as a central part of a young and up-and-coming competitor or as a valuable trading chip, immediately getting nothing but a cap relief is tough. But that’s not all Atlanta has to offer here. There’s also a huge $25 million trade exception. That’s probably the biggest part of this deal for both sides.

Atlanta did what it had to do here. In a league poised to make life hell for big-money spenders under the new CBA, the Hawks, who will reportedly continue to actively seek to improve the roster, are falling under the helm (for now) and creating meaningful ones Flexibility as they look We look forward to the opportunity to re-sign Dejounte Murray, Onyeka Okongwu and Saddiq Bey Acquiring potentially larger fish through the trade market.

While Collins, as mentioned above, is due $78 million over the next three years (option for 26.6 million players in the 2025-26 season), Gay will only make $6.4 million this season before he disappears from the books. Atlanta did well to work with a team in Utah that could accommodate a capped pay cut without having to take back the same pay.

Bottom line: The deal Atlanta wanted for Collins never materialized. This was probably the best option that had become a limited supply of options on a high dollar negative contract in an increasingly scarce time. It’s too much to give the deal an “A” because the Hawks, albeit under a different front office, should have had the foresight to trade Collins a few years ago when there was a chance of a decent return.

But as it got later and Collins went down in value, it would be a band – help at best. This upsets Collins’ band-aid for a fresh start financially. Necessary move for the Hawks.

Utah Jazz: B+

Danny Ainge is seen on the phone saying, “You’ll give me Collins for that?” OK, sure. Send him over. Collins can be said to be a player in decline, but at least part of it was situational in Atlanta and he’ll only be 26 when the season starts.

Jazz is in no hurry. After the Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert trades, they have a wheelbarrow full of draft picks. You have room for the cap. Stealing the tires from Collins is pretty much all positive.

It remains a question whether the Jazz will bring back Jordan Clarkson and/or Talen Horton-Tucker, both of whom are likely to drop out to become free agents; If they don’t, they can still have more than $20 million in space even if Collins’ money is on the books.

Utah can build patiently and still make an honest run into the playoffs in the short term. The Jazz were on the hunt last season until they made a strategic exit. Utah will make a huge, talented front line with two-seven-foot-tall Lauri Markkanen and Walker Kessler, as well as Collins. Add Ochai Agbaji and No. 9 overall pick Taylor Hendricks and you’re talking one Average with a wingspan of 7 feet.

Keyonte George, the potential point guard of the future, is also super long for his 1.80 meter height. Utah is on the rise, and Collins is pretty darn fascinating as a rising star or as an established, super-athletic bench player when Hendricks seems ready early on.

I can’t give the deal an “A” because Collins is still making a lot of money and he could stay on the contract for three more years. If he keeps refusing, it won’t be great. But Utah is in the best position to absorb those kinds of financial losses without really affecting its ability to field a winner (relatively at this point in Reconstruction).

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