Collins Unhappy in Atlanta

Updated: January 13, 2022
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Reports have surfaced that John Collins has repeatedly expressed discontent with his role on the Hawks in Atlanta, despite him getting the bag in the off-season. As is so often said around the league, “Winning is the cure-all medication.” Well, the Hawks have done very little winning as they continuously catch the L’s at 17 & 22 and are currently slotted as the 12th seed in the East. Though Collins has been seen by most around the league as a perfect fit next to Trae as a plus asset, there were general concerns about how much to pay him despite his numbers due to the position he plays as a big. With Ben Simmons still out there in the cold Abyss of Philadelphia and Atlanta being maybe the biggest disappointment of the East this season, could Collins be the core piece of the package sent to Morey for Big Ben?

The story now feels as old as time itself with Simmons on the block since even before the offseason began, but as we get closer and closer to the trade deadline, inevitably the pressure has to have some impact on the Philly front office to make a move. Embiid, when healthy has looked like a top 5 weapon on both ends of the floor. Not only that, but the supporting cast has looked stronger than advertised in the offseason despite Tobias Harris arguably being the worst active maxed out player in all of basketball. What is crystal clear though, now more than a quarter through the season, is that, as currently constructed, with their 2nd best player sidelined, perpetually waiting to be moved elsewhere, the Philadelphia 76ers are not a true title contender.

The same could be said though about the Atlanta Hawks, in that last year was a fluke, and their Eastern Conference Finals appearance was more dictated by circumstances rather than overall talent. There is so much young potential on this roster, and yet they simply look like the antithesis to the well-oiled machines of the West in Golden State, Phoenix, and Utah. There have been talks of moving off of young wing Cam Reddish due to the contract he will most likely demand in free agency, and yet letting go 6’8” wings who can shoot and have so much upside seems counterintuitive to building around a like-aged point guard in Trae Young.

Now there are logical arguments from both sides of whom should be adding in draft capital to finalize this deal of Simmons + Shake Milton for Bogdanovic + Collins, however, there is also an argument that at the dire moment of the expiration date of the trade deadline that this exact proposal is the most Philly can get to arm themselves for the postseason. Bogdan Bogdanovic would be slotted is as their point guard next Tyrese Maxey and Collins would upgrade them at the 4. Now it would be utterly disgusting economically to be paying Tobias 36 million to come off the bench, but he simply doesn’t stretch the floor from distance and cannot be played at the 3 with Embiid and Collins in the frontcourt. They would need to have Korkmaz or Niang at the 3 and have the huge dynamic frontcourt in Collins and Joel Embiid and allow Tobias to cook in the non-Embiid minutes off the bench.

Morey and the Philly front office have been adamant that they expect an All-Star level talent in return for Ben Simmons. But as we know all too well, we don’t always get what we want, and these two players are plus starting-caliber weapons in place of a phantom shadow that has yet to play a single minute this season. It not only upgrades their starting and closing lineups but upgrades their depth and their 2nd unit tremendously.

For Atlanta, the equation is more complicated due to the particular fit that Simmons requires, but a strong argument can be made that with the rule changes, Trae must adapt more of an off-ball attack if he wishes to remain a powerhouse in this league. Simmons as one of the best defenders in all of asketball could flourish, especially if he is able to play the small ball 5 as his body suggests he should’ve been since the start of his career. Also by getting Collins and Bogdan off the books, Reddish and De’Andre Hunter can get paid and remain a part of the Hawks’ future. A starting and closing lineup of Trae, Huerter, Reddish, Hunter, and Simmons sounds so ideal it almost hurts thinking they are considering parting ways with Reddish just for a pick. They would still have Gallinari, Capella, and Okongwu off the bench and the addition of Shake Milton as a backup guard.

This year would most likely be a bit of a wash for Atlanta, but maybe it’s a good thing. It will take time to create a system with two players so specific in their roles in Simmons and Trae Young, yet it is also two very special weapons who together may have some exceptional potential and title aspirations in the future. Trae Young is still only 23 years old, and we have seen too often, early blossoming stars’ front offices get ahead of themselves and spend early. A Simmons acquisition would be something in the middle. But as good as Bogdan and Collins are, they will never be the 2nd best player on a title team…Big Ben could end up being just that.

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