Report: Jazz acquire John Collins in trade with Hawks

The Utah Jazz are acquiring John Collins from the Atlanta Hawks, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski. Yahoo Sports' Jake Fischer also reported the deal was in the works.

Going back to the Hawks will be Rudy Gay and a second-round pick.

The return might seem light given that the 25-year-old Collins has been a building block for the Hawks since they drafted him in 2017, but the trade will allow them to move on from a contract that has them owing him $78 million over the next three seasons. It will also reportedly give them a $25.3 million trade exception, the largest in the NBA.

The trade will reportedly allow the Hawks to drop well below the $182.5 million second apron and get under the $165 million luxury tax threshold for next season, unless they use that trade exception to take on another player. Spotrac currently has the team at around $159.5 million in total cap figures.

Gay will reportedly pick up his $6.5 million player option as part of the trade, which can't be officially exercised until July 6.

ATLANTA, GEORGIA - FEBRUARY 11:  John Collins #20 of the Atlanta Hawks reacts after a three-point basket against Keita Bates-Diop #31 of the San Antonio Spurs during the fourth quarter at State Farm Arena on February 11, 2023 in Atlanta, Georgia.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
John Collins was part of the Hawks' future a few years ago. Now, the Jazz are taking on his contract. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Why did the Hawks move on from John Collins?

Trade speculation has been frequent around Collins over the past few years, basically since he signed his five-year, $125 million extension that soon became a questionable asset. At his best, Collins is an excellent rebounder who can stretch the floor, attack the paint and hold his own on defense. Unfortunately, his numbers have taken a step backward since the Hawks entered playoff contention.

Last season, Collins averaged 13.1 points per game, his lowest mark since his rookie season, with career worsts in 3-point shooting (29.2%), rebounds per game (6.5) and assists per game (1.2), all while playing his usual 30 minutes per game.

That won't work when the Hawks are looking for players who can play off the ball while Trae Young and Dejounte Murray are running the show. Atlanta finished 41-41 and eighth in the Eastern Conference last season, a step back from their 43-39 mark the previous season despite the addition of Murray at great expense. They were eliminated in the first round by the Boston Celtics.

The Jazz are likely hoping Collins sees a resurgence in a different system, perhaps similar to what happened to Lauri Markkanen last year, in which the big man went from a tertiary piece with the Cleveland Cavaliers to his first career All-Star selection.

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