The NBA trade deadline is upon us with Nikola Vucevic, P.J. Tucker, Victor Oladipo (who’s already been dealt once this year), Jerami Grant, Harrison Barnes and Andre Drummond among the headliners in this year’s crop of rumored trade candidates. Atlanta Hawks forward John Collins, it seems, could also be on the move.
The 23-year-old Wake Forest alum doesn’t seem particularly invested in the organization—he turned down a $90-million extension before the season—and has resented taking a backseat to offensive focal point Trae Young, Atlanta’s leading scorer at an impressive 26.7 points per game. The Hawks are tied for the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference, though their current standing won’t preclude them from shopping Collins, who will be a restricted free agent after the season.
Though not a star by any stretch of the imagination, the four-year vet is a capable scorer (career 16.5 points per game) with good shooting range for a player his size (6’9,” 235 pounds). There’s a lot to like about Collins’ game, though the max contract he so covets is probably a distant pipe dream.
With 13 days until the deadline, teams are beginning to sniff around Collins, including the Timberwolves, who Jackie MacMullan says are “dying” to acquire the former 19th overall pick. “Minnesota wants him bad,” MacMullan told her former ESPN colleague Bill Simmons (now of The Ringer) Friday on his podcast. “They really want him. I think there are other teams too, but from what I understand, Minnesota particularly.”
Collins would seem to be an odd fit for Minnesota, owners of the NBA’s worst record at 8-29. The Timberwolves boast some intriguing young pieces—Anthony Edwards has shown promise in his debut season (15.2 points per game) while Karl-Anthony Towns remains among the league’s better low-post scorers when healthy. Malik Beasley has also enjoyed a breakout season (20.5 points per game on 45-percent shooting), though the Wolves, under first-year coach Chris Finch, are still in the very early stages of what figures to be a long and painstaking rebuild.
Collins would presumably prefer to play for a contending team, however, it’s doubtful he’ll have much say on the matter. Atlanta’s asking price for Collins isn’t abundantly clear right now, though the package would assuredly include one, if not several, first-round picks.