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Should the Thunder Make a Move for Atlanta's John Collins?

Weighing the pros and cons of a move for the Hawks big man.
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The Thunder (14-28) currently sit 14th in the Western Conference with the league’s fourth-worst record. Oklahoma City has no real need to string together a run of winning basketball any time soon as the organization can sit and develop the rest of the year with a Top-4 pick becoming likelier with each successive loss.

If, however, Thunder GM Sam Presti wants to jumpstart his team’s rebuild an interesting name is reportedly available.

According to Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer, the Atlanta Hawks are “open for business” on “everyone but Trae Young and Clint Capela.”

While young players like De’Andre Hunter and Jalen Johnson would likely be packaged for veterans in hopes of contending next season, John Collins presents an option on the other end of the financial spectrum.

Following the Hawks run to the Eastern Conference Finals last season, Collins signed a $125 million contract locking him down for the foreseeable future. But with the Hawks struggles this season and being limited in his usage Collins could use a fresh start to hit his full potential.

Collins is averaging 17.3 points, and 7.8 rebounds while shooting a career-best 44.3% from behind the arc this season.

With Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Josh Giddey looking like the backcourt of OKC’s future, Collins would be an ideal fit schematically. He is one of the league’s premier lob threats — something the Thunder don’t currently have aside from the occasional Tre Mann back-cut.

Gilgeous-Alexander is quickly becoming one of the league’ best at attacking the rim, but with the Thunder being the league’ worst 3-point shooting team, opponents are quick to swarm him with little fear of threat from a kick to either corner.

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Collins solves plenty of problems for OKC. He instantly becomes the No. 2 scorer, adds desperately needed shooting and becomes a safety blanket for Gilgeous-Alexander and Giddey around the rim. But he would cause a few key problems at the same — big enough to scare Presti off of any deal.

The first, and likely biggest issue, is that the Thunder would undoubtedly win more games with Collins on the roster for the rest of the season that without — something Presti probably isn’t too fond of.

With three of the top four prospects in this upcoming draft being big men, adding Collins would make the entire draft process more difficult — pigeon-holing Presti into Chet Holmgren or Jaden Ivey if he were to retain a Top-4 spot.

The second issue would be money. The Thunder would have no problem adding Collins’ contract, but with Gilgeous-Alexander already on a max deal, he would be OKC’s second player making at, or near, the max — limiting what Presti could do going forward.

As far as compensation for Collins the Presti could offer two different options depending on what Hawks GM Travis Schlenk seeks more. 

The Thunder have plenty of draft capital to put together a couple picks that might interest Schlenk. There is also the player + pick option sending Lu Dort and a pick to Atlanta.

All together Collins in OKC seems like more of a fun move than a smart or prudent one, so this seems like one Presti will hold off on at least until draft night.


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