Welcome to my blog Hawks fans, I’m your local internet expert (being facetious if you’re new to the blog), and I’m here to tell you why John Collins will receive a Max contract and why you should not be upset about it. Against popular opinion, I will also tell you why it is in the Hawks best interests to do so. When I review the Hawks position today, this is really a no brainier and the real negotiations will be about other clauses, timing of signing the contract and not the money. With further ado, lets get into the 4 reasons the Hawks will sign Collins to a max deal.
Reason 1: The Money
According to BasketballInsiders, the Hawks are currently projected to be WELL under the ~$115mil cap the next two years and there’s room to exceed without hitting luxury tax. Collins is eligible for a 5yr 25% max contract this year. That means his cap hit will be around ~$28.75mil/yr assuming flat salary cap since it is 25% regardless of the actual cap figure. That moves the Hawks new 20-21 leftover salary cap to ~$94mil with $21mil leftover. The Hawks do not know where they will pick in the draft but we will assume its a top 5 pick and I am going to mimic DeAndre Hunter’s contract. The Hawks will get this top 5 pick for ~$6.5mil leaving the Hawks now ~$15mil plus ~$10mil in exceptions. Since they would have their top 6-7 guys on contract, that’s plenty of cap to fill out the roster AND sign a savvy veteran using exceptions to avoid or lessen to a large degree further cap hit. Below is an updated Cap removing unrestricted free agents this year.
As you can see, the Hawks don’t run into major issues until 2024-25. At that point though, they will have a myriad of options based on the teams & players performances. If everyone plays great, they can make a trade. If one slips and doesn’t command this contract, you can let them walk and earn your money back. If the team’s (hopefully) competing for a championship behind Trae Young and Collins stardom with the rise of Reddish, Hunter, and Huerter, then you go into Luxury tax and ride it our as long as you possibly can before forced to unload an asset or let one walk. The options really are wide open for the Hawks here given they think Collins further develops into a legitimate All-Star (would of been this season without the suspension)
Reason 2: The Stats
As many Hawks fans should be aware of by now, John Collins averages of 20-10 is rare at his age. Not only that, he was the only player in the NBA to avg at least 20pts, 10reb, and 1.5blk per game. Furthermore, he drastically improved his 3pt % to over 40% last season on almost 4 attempts a game. That transformation bodes extremely well for him in the future with his already deadly roll game. He also markedly improved his help defense and averaged 1.6 blocks per game which was good enough for top 10 in the league with guys like Drummond and Jaren Jackson Jr who are better known defenders. He can improve perimeter defense and not giving up too much position on closeouts. When I watch the film, this looked better as the Hawks defense improved generally with Cam and Hunter in the lineup. I think it will improve more with Capela taking some of the rim protecting responsibilities off him so he can show off his athleticism on the perimeter more.
Something that tends to go unnoticed to me is he is a great free throw shooter for a big man and improved his FT% last year to 80%. This should further improve as he works on his shooting overall. Looking forward, I see Collins be a 25+ points a night guy and 10 rebounds. If you look at his stats post trade deadline when the Hawks begun getting healthy and added some better C depth, Collins basically averaged it over those next 15gms. Small data set, but it highlights the potential. Capela should be a positive addition. Schlenk doesn’t make trades without a vision and purpose, and I believe they have a plan on how they will use these two based on match-ups.
Reason 3 : This Draft
Granted, the Hawks do not know where they are picking, but the chances are over 50% they will be in the top 5 today. while guaranteed no worse than 8th There’s always the chance they could drop like last year, but the Hawks didn’t envision them in this position in the first place. Having the top 6 guys locked in allows them to truly target BPA. There are 3 wing prospects and a couple front court players too. This could be a case of a young team rich in talent getting richer. This could be key, because as the salary cap shows above, cap will get tight in several years. They can either use this as trade bait or let someone else walk who isn’t performing while also having the flexibility to go over the cap in luxury if they want to extend the window a few years due to having championship success (we could only hope!). Any of the top 8 prospects should be a further boost in young talent for a team already budding. Anthony Edwards would be a great wing choice. Killian Hayes could be a backup PG which the Hawks will need. Isaac Okoro would be a great wing defender with real potential if he can become consistent with his 3pt shot (possible as his shot doesn’t look bad). James Wiseman is a very intriguing prospect as well who could be a Capela replacement in the future. That’s a lot of options for the Hawks this year.
Reason 4: Team Chemistry
Given all the above, the other big mark is the chemistry he’s built with Trae Young and other young players on the team. Collins is the oldest and most experienced of the young surge. He began to take on a more voice for the team and has shown that he puts in the work. From all early indications, Collins and Young feel they are going to play off each other very well. Given Collins history of showing a willingness to further refine area’s of his game and be flexible in his role will be a key to watch. He’s said publicly his focus this summer is play-making and he wants to throw lobs to Capela as well. If they can develop some different looks and Collins take on more play-making responsibilities, that further opens the offense for the rest of the team. This would give the Hawks 3-4 players who can take turns making plays with the ball in their hands and keeping pressure on teams from all area’s and exploit wherever the weak point may be on the opponent.
With all the above working in his favor it just makes sense to do it. However, do not be surprised if the Hawks wait to get it done being as Collins will be a restricted free agent. The Hawks have two ways of approaching this: 1. Negotiate now and try to get the deal on the terms you really want or 2. Wait until the following summer and match an offer sheet. Option 2 may be most likely since this would also allow the Hawks to sign him over the cap with NBA rules. They may do this to try and squeeze in a really good veteran at 3yr / $45-60mil deal using the cap space they have and some exception space. All of this puts the Hawks in a really good position, and they have no real reason to let John Collins just walk after investing so much into him thus far. It makes far more sense to keep going and either trade him at a later date or keep him and let another restricted free agent walk who you do not feel is as valuable. But even more so, in the best case scenario of winning championships, this gives the Hawks real long term ability to sustain it with some cap magic by Schlenk & Co. Overall the downside risk is very minimal as Capela will be an expiring contract who could be traded if it doesn’t work out. The other young talent will be restricted free agents and if you can’t afford one will offer the options of trading away his final year and restricted free agency for additional assets while ultimately leaving you flexibility to keep the young talent in place if it becomes competitive in the near term. With everything working in their favor, I just do not see many reasons why the Hawks would not give Collins the max extension he wants. I only see ways they can try to improve on the worst case scenario (cap wise) of having to match a 4yr 25% max deal.