The Dallas Mavericks should have a pretty high opinion of Atlanta Hawks forward John Collins, whether that opinion is put on display this summer, or before the NBA trade deadline (if he become available).
The 23-year-old upcoming restricted free agent is averaging 17.8 points and 7.8 rebounds per game for the Atlanta Hawks this season while shooting 41% from three. Against the Mavs specifically, though, for his career, Collins averages 23.8 points (highest among all other teams he’s played against) and 11 rebounds, shooting 62% from the field and 58% from deep.
Based on Collins’ career production overall vs. what he’s done to Dallas specifically, we could technically label him as a “vs. Mavs” All-Star. The difference here, though, is that Collins has the potential to produce those high-end numbers on a nightly basis if put in the perfect situation, and that situation could be with Luka Doncic, Kristaps Porzingis and the Mavs.
“I think Collins is a great fit with Porzingis, in theory,” said Hawks analyst Brad Rowland on our Mavs Step Back Podcast last week. “Porzingis is more of a pick-and-pop guy, not a post-up big. Collins is a great pick-and-roll threat, lob-catcher, finisher, and they would compliment each other defensively as well. I think if you drew up a center to pair with Collins, it might not be exactly Porzingis, but it would be close. That pick-and-pop guy who can help spread the floor.”
Before this season started, the Hawks offered Collins a $90 million extension, but Collins declined the offer because he wanted a max rookie extension, or at least something a lot closer to that number.
Rowland also told us that Atlanta might have to at least look into potentially trading Collins before the March 27 trade deadline if they know they don’t want to go any higher than the original $90 million offer they presented to him before this season.
Not only did the Hawks fork out a combined $133 million to Bogdan Bogdanovic and Danilo Gallinari in the offseason, but Trae Young’s inevitable max rookie extension is right around the corner as well.
Something might have to give, and we'll suggest that ‘something’ just might be Collins.
Indeed, guess what? The Athletic is now reporting that Atlanta will "listen'' to trade offers on Collins.
The problem with trading Collins, though, is that it would likely have to be to a team that is prepared to pay him what he wants this summer. And if a team feels like it has a decent shot to steal him in restricted free agency, there isn’t a lot of motivation to give up much in a trade package right now, unless said team just really wants to get Collins in-house four months ahead of time.
With Atlanta having the ability to match any offer Collins gets this offseason, it makes more sense for the Hawks to hold onto him for the time being rather than trading him. Even if he signs an offer sheet elsewhere in the offseason, there’s always the possibility of a sign-and-trade as well.
More than likely, the Mavs will have an abundance of cap space this summer to offer a guy like Collins a max contract if they wish to do so. Not only would Dallas have a legitimate shot of stealing Collins away from Atlanta due to Hawks’ management perhaps not wanting to commit more than $90 million in him, but you also have to factor in that Collins and Young might not have the best teammate relationships as well.
Earlier this season, The Athletic reported that Collins had openly expressed his disappointment with how Young ran the Hawks offense and his desire to be more involved than he had been. Young reportedly told teammates that he disagreed with Collins’ criticisms after the film session had ended.
Overall, this situation probably wasn’t as heated as the media initially made it out to be. But on the other hand, the Hawks offered Collins that $90 million extension before any of this drama surfaced. Does Atlanta want to commit that kind of long-term money to a guy who deep-down might not want to be there anymore in the first place?
We’ll have to wait a while longer before getting a definite answer to that question, but our educated guess is that Collins will be very attainable for the Mavs if they choose to go the restricted free agency route.
As solid as Maxi Kleber has been in the starting lineup with Porzingis, Collins filling in at that power forward spot would be even better. Collins would give Dallas the elite rim-rolling and lob-catching capabilities they had before Dwight Powell suffered an achilles injury last season, while still giving you the elite three-point shooting and shot-blocking potential that Kleber provides when he’s in the game.
With big pipe-dream names like Giannis Antetokounmpo and Rudy Gobert no longer on the unrestricted free agent big board, the Mavs’ options this offseason will be more limited than they were probably hoping.
But John Collins could be a restricted free agency ‘New Plan A’ worth pursuing. Unless, that is, Atlanta is willing to part with him, affordably, now.