Celtics Long Time Target Expected to be Traded This Off-Season: Report

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Daniel Theis, Boston Celtics

It would be an off-season for the Boston Celtics if John Collins’ name were not mentioned in potential trade talks.

While the rumor mill is just getting started, it looks like Collins, 24, may finally be on the move as the Atlanta Hawks seek to reshape a roster that has consistently fallen short in the pursuit of major playoff basketballers.

According to Marc Stein in a recent newsletter, a Collins trade is no longer a question of ‘if’ but ‘when’, and rest assured there will be numerous teams lining up to try and acquire his signature.

“The likelihood of a John Collins trade is higher than ever, according to league sources. Collins has just completed the first season of a five-year, $125 million deal, but the novelty of his deal has done nothing to lessen outside interest in the 6ft-9 forward, which has been growing ever since talks between Collins and Leaguewide seething Hawks $90M extension at start of 2020-21 season,” Stein wrote.

For Boston, Collins would prove to be a long-term replacement for Al Horford at the power forward position, especially given that his age and contract status are consistent with the other young members of the Celtics core.


Why Collins is a perfect fit

Heading into this off-season, the Celtics need extra points, ideally from wing position. Collins, a career 37.6% from Deep, is the ideal mix of scoring and size that Brad Stevens and Ime Udoka have been looking for — a need that was only exacerbated when the Golden State Warriors died on June 16 NBA championship snatched.

At 6’1″, Collins is a legitimate small ball center option and is capable of defending the perimeter or operating in Udoka’s preferred switching system. Sure, the Hawks haven’t been the best defensive team in recent years, but Collins’ size and skill set means he can drastically improve on defense if he’s in the right environment.

In terms of scoring, Cleaning the Glass has the Utah native averaging 72% around the rim, 44% from the floater range, 45% from the long middle range, 34% from the third corner and 38% from all other parts of the World tracks scope this season.

Scoring numbers like that are exactly what the Celtics lack, especially when the ball isn’t in Jayson Tatum’s or Jaylen Brown’s hands — plus, Collins has an average 19% usage rate, meaning he doesn’t need the ball in his hands to score effectively be — something that bodes well considering how Boston likes its two star wings to launch the offense.


Make the money work

Collins is currently making $125 million over five years for an annual average of $25 million – meaning the Celtics can’t use their traded player exceptions on any deal to bring the versatile big man to Boston, and neither do they have cap space to absorb a one-sided deal.

If the Celtics wanted to go after Collins, it would instead mean assembling a package of players to get Atlanta to accept a deal. The Hawks may want Al Horford for the final year of his contract, hoping his defensive IQ and experienced leadership can sustain a youthful roster throughout the season.

Or maybe a trade headline from reigning Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Smart is enough to grease the wheels of a potential trade. Whatever the deal, one thing is for sure, the Celtics will likely be one of the first teams if Collins really hits the trade market in the offseason.

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