After Hawks power forward John Collins opted to not accept Atlanta’s four-year, $90MM contract extension offer during the 2020 offseason, opinions were split on what he could fetch in restricted free agency ahead of the 2020/21 season. As an athletic jump-shooting big man who still appears to have room to grow, Collins now appears set to be one of the top available free agents this summer, opines Chris Kirschner of The Athletic.
“The couple of seasons I had before might not have been viewed as winning and empty stats,” Collins told Kirschner. “I don’t know if I wanted to prove to anyone anything other than versatility and playing basketball at a high level. I wanted to show that I could play at a high level and add winning to an organization in more ways than just one. I feel like I’ve proven that. I’m pleased with myself and my ability to help the team win and show my ability to be versatile.”
Kirschner writes that the Hawks should ensure that they re-sign Collins, who proved to be a crucial component of the club that took the eventual-champion Bucks to six games in the 2021 Eastern Conference Finals. Kirschner projects that a four-year, $110MM deal could satisfy both Collins and Atlanta.
There’s more out of the Southeast Division:
- The Hawks have announced some finalized coaching staff hires ahead of the 2021/22 season, according to a team press release. Joe Prunty, most recently an assistant with the Suns, and Jamelle McMillan, most recently an assistant with the Pelicans, are the new additions under head coach Nate McMillan. Prunty and Jamelle McMillan were reported to be possibilities for Atlanta earlier this month.
- Magic president Jeff Weltman indicated that Orlando has had conversations about trading up or down in the upcoming 2021 draft, per Josh Robbins of The Athletic (Twitter link). “I think trading up is always difficult, and it’s always difficult the higher you’re talking [about] in the draft,” Weltman said. “I can tell you that we’ve had a lot of discussions both ways, up and down. And it’s not easy to get those deals done.” The Magic currently have the Nos. 5 and 8 selections in the first round of Thursday’s draft.
- Hornets president of basketball operations Mitch Kupchak has suggested that Charlotte will select the best player available with the No. 11 pick in Thursday’s draft, writes Jonathan M. Alexander of the Charlotte Observer. Though upgrading the center position appears to be the team’s most pressing need, the team is open to all possibilities. “We don’t know what the future holds for [free agent centers Cody Zeller and Bismack Biyombo],” Kupchak said. “Do they want to come back here? I think they do. And then there is a marketplace that has to be considered.” Kupchak conceded that the team could use help at the five spot. “So if you just look at a depth chart, it’s clear to see … there’s a need there.” He cautioned that the draft may not be the route the Hornets ultimately go when it comes to improving at center. “There aren’t too many centers in the draft. We’re not going to hunt a center.”