Atlanta Hawks, Houston Rockets, NBA Trade Rumors

NBA Trade Rumors: New team emerging in race for John Collins

The Atlanta Hawks are still shopping John Collins as the trade deadline approaches. Now NBA trade rumors have identified a surprising new suitor.

A half-dozen teams have already been reportedly linked to the Atlanta Hawks and John Collins, including the Utah Jazz, New Orleans Pelicans, Los Angeles Lakers and more. The 25-year-old power forward has seen his numbers decline across the board this season but there’s plenty of optimism that he could rebound in a new situation.

Collins is currently averaging 13.5 points, 7.7 rebounds and 1.2 assists per game, shooting just 26.3 percent from beyond the arc. However, just two years ago he was averaging 17.6 points, 7.4 rebounds, 1.2 assists and shooting 39.9 percent from beyond the arc. How he’s being used may explain more of his struggles than any actual decline in skill.

Recently, Kelly Iko of The Athletic reported that the Houston Rockets had emerged as a new potential suitor for Collins. Supposedly, the structure of a specific deal hasn’t been discussed but Houston has expressed interest.

What could John Collins do for the Houston Rockets?

One of the reasons Collins’ numbers have declined is that he’s playing far more minutes with traditional centers like Clint Capela and Onyeka Okongwu. That pairing usually means Collins is relegated to the corner as a spot-up shooter, rather than putting him in the middle of the floor and in the pick-and-roll where his athleticism, touch and vertical explosion create huge advantages.

Collins could put those tools to use for the Rockets’ young ball-handlers like Jalen Green and Kevin Porter Jr. but there are questions about the fit. Pairing him with Alperen Sengun would create a lot of the same issues he has in Atlanta’s rotation and playing him in a smaller frontcourt with Jabari Smith Jr. would create space but put a lot of rim-protection responsibility on Smith. Collins has become a solid defender in space but he is not the physical presence to anchor a back line.

Still, his offensive upside and versatility may be too much for the Rockets to pass up, especially if they can swing a deal without giving up their first-round pick in the 2023 NBA Draft — which has strong odds of being in the top-3 for a chance at picking a game-changer from a loaded class.

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