Monday, January 24, 2022

Celtics ‘not ready to go there’ in Star Big Man trade: Insider

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The Boston Celtics have been linked with a potential John Collins trade for the third straight season.

Collins is currently a member of the Atlanta Hawks and recently signed a five-year, $125 million extension. But despite the 24-year-old’s efficiency, his usage rate has declined over the past 18 months, morphing into a role player rather than the attacking focus his skills demand.

But despite rumors surrounding the Hawks’ willingness to change teams, Celtics insider Brian Robb doesn’t think the Celtics will finally land their man. Not because Boston isn’t interested in the great sniper, but because they lack the funds to strike a deal without including All-Star wing Jaylen Brown in the deal.

“Just like Haliburton, a Smart/Rob Williams starter pack probably won’t be enough to get the needle depressed (especially since Hawks have Clint Cappella locked up long-term). The only thing likely to make the Hawks consider a move from Collins is talk of Jaylen Brown in a deal (with Collins and more returning to Boston), and league sources suggest Boston won’t this year ready to go there with the All-Star. ‘ Robb wrote in a recent Mailbag article for MassLive.

NBA insider Keith Smith discussed the possibility of adding Collins to the Celtics roster in a recent episode of the CelticsBlog podcast, noting that Boston does have viable trading options in pursuit of the long-standing trade goal.

“John Collins may appear available from the Hawks if they reset and while Horford has to go to get the decent salary we’ll tip you kids whatever you want. If we can get away with Robert Williams, John Collins, Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart on the back we look pretty solid,” Smith said.

If the Celtics were to strike a deal for Collins, it would become increasingly likely they were bordering on blockbuster territory. Sure, an agreement between Al Horford, two young guys (most likely Grant Williams and Romeo Langford or Aaron Nesmith), and a bevy of draft picks isn’t much to get excited about, but it would start to clear the deck for Boston.

If Stevens were to remove some of the development players from the roster, it would give Ime Udoka more leeway to maneuver with his rotations. He wouldn’t need to focus on developing young talent who didn’t earn their minutes when the opportunity presented itself.

Collins has spent 75% of his playing time in the power forward position and 25% in the center position (if we ignore the 2% he spent at small forward as a rookie). Collins is the perfect match if Udoka is looking to lead a two-man lineup.

The Utah native is a career 39% three-pointer with 2.5 attempts per game and an average of 8.4 boards per game since turning pro. Additionally, Collins’ new signing with the Celtics would allow Tatum to slip back into a small forward role, which would allow him to use his size and strength to a more significant advantage and shoot over the top of defenders more consistently.

Aside from his shooting and rebounding, Collins is a seasoned veteran, used to playing alongside ball-dominant stars, having spent recent seasons assisting Trae Young for the Hawks. Cleaning The Glass has the big 6-foot-10 with a 17.8% usage rate this year, which is the lowest since his freshman year, but its efficiency hasn’t missed a beat – Boston could use that kind of consistency right away.

It could cost the Celtics some of their younger players, but with that Hawks recently signed from Cam Reddish, which was traded to the New York Knicks in early January, they may be happy to roll back some cost-controlled projects as part of a larger package.

The trade deadline is still over a month away and many other teams will be expressing interest in the versatile big man; We can only hope that the Celtics participate in these discussions.

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