NBA trade rumors: Celtics could be interested in John Collins deal

The Boston Celtics off-season has started in earnest, and a household name has emerged as a potential trade target for Brad Stevens and co.

The Athletic’s Zach Harper reported Wednesday that there are “some rumors that the Celtics may be interested in a trade for Atlanta Hawks big man John Collins.”

Collins was linked with Boston in trade rumors last March, with the Cs reported as one of the favorites to land the 24-year-old ahead of the 2021 NBA trade deadline.

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Does a deal make sense for Collins this time?

The argument for adding Collins is that he’s a very productive big (16.2 points and 7.8 rebounds per game last season) with a solid outside shot (career 37.6 percent 3-point shooter), who could be a dynamic four in Boston’s starting lineup. If you think Al Horford can’t repeat their strong 2021-22 season at the age of 36, then the Celtics could definitely benefit from adding a younger, more offensively talented player.

The question is what Boston would have to give up to land Collins, who signed a five-year, $125 million deal with Atlanta last August. The Hawks could ask for Georgia native Jaylen Brown in return, but there’s no way Stevens will break up the Brown-Jayson Tatum duo after they helped the Cs reach the NBA Finals.

The most likely scenario (relatively speaking) would be Marcus Smart, who reportedly attracted interest from Atlanta at the close of last year. Collins is making $6.4 million more than Smart in 2022-23, so the Cs would likely need to add another median salary like Daniel Theis’ for a deal to work.

Would Boston part ways with their longest-serving player and hand the point guard keys to Derrick White if it meant adding Collins? Our Chris Forsberg has made his stance on Smart clear, and it seems unlikely the Celtics would make such a drastic move after falling two wins short of an NBA championship.

The Cs should explore all avenues to improve their roster, but they have more pressing needs (scoring on the bench and playmaking at the top of the list) that can be addressed for a lesser price than trading a core player for Collins.

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