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Would Nets be interested in Hawks’ John Collins? That’s just the first question!

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Atlanta Hawks v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

For the second year in a row, John Collins, the Hawks’ 23-year-old power forward, is rumored to be available despite his big numbers ... and that Atlanta is contending for a playoff spot.

So, Sam Amick of The Athletic wrote Friday, “Nonetheless, sources say the Hawks have shown a willingness to listen to offers for Collins (this should surprise no one).”

One big reason is, as Amick wrote, that Collins is due for an extension this summer and word is that he’s already turned down a $90 million offer from Hawks owners. So, if they’re not willing to pay him and would rather get something for him rather than lose him for nothing, why not listen to offers?

And Brandon “Scoop B” Robinson tweeted that two contenders are among those who have called the Hawks. He didn’t name the teams, BUT it should be noted, as we did a year ago last week, that the Nets had interest in Collins.

Back then, Chris Kirschner, also of The Athletic, wrote that Nets had expressed interest in John Collins ... and that “Spencer Dinwiddie was ‘mentioned’ in talks that Kirschner admitted may not have been that ‘advanced.’”

There are, as Kirschner wrote then and Amick writes now, big issues for the Hawks, starting with how Collins represents big a part of the Hawks’ present if not their future.

As Peachtree Hoops, our sister site, noted Friday in an article headlined, “The John Collins situation is not one the Hawks can afford to botch,” just how stellar Collins has been.

Collins is making over 40% of his threes over his past 65 games (last season + this season), and averages 20.4 points, 9.3 rebounds and 1.4 blocks over that span. His true-shooting percentage in that span is 65.5%, and he’s made tremendous strides as a defender. No one knows this better than the Hawks, as there seems to be a narrative in national circles that Collins is still a negative on the defensive end. That is simply not the case, and hasn’t been for some time.

This season, playing alongside Clint Capela, Collins has been a positive contributor on both ends. Capela and Collins rank second in defensive rating in the Eastern Conference among two-man lineups that have played at least 350 minutes together, something Kevin Chouinard wrote about in January. To further illustrate the point, Collins and De’Andre Hunter rank as the fourth best two-man lineup in this area, while Collins and Trae Young rank fifth (yes you read that correctly).

So why wouldn’t spend? Well, Atlanta isn’t a team with a mega-rich owner and they have other even younger bigs they like. And they will have to pay Trae Yong a ton of money.

Which brings us to the Brooklyn Nets. Let’s assume last year’s story was correct and that this year, they’re still interested. It would be a very Sean Marks move. Marks is unsentimental, as he proved in favoring Kyrie Irving over D’Angelo Russell, in trading four players including fan favorites Caris LeVert and Jarrett Allen, to acquire James Harden ... and in dumping (or whatever you want to call it) Kenny Atkinson. Marks sees a problem and tries to solve it.

How would such a trade work? Well, as with last year’s rumor, one piece would almost have to be Spencer Dinwiddie, everyone’s favorite trade piece. He has a player option in the summer and currently earns $12.3 million. A weeks ago, Adrian Wojnarowski reported that “there are teams who have interest in trading for him. to have his Bird Rights, to be able to sign him potentially long-term.”

Collins makes almost precisely a third of what Dinwiddie makes, at $4.1 million. Might the Hawks want the Nets take on another contract while demanding a young player. The Nets don’t have ANY first rounders they can trade. They all went south to Houston. What they do have is a couple of young bigs, 20-year-old Reggie Perry and 21-year-old Nic Claxton both with Georgia connections. Perry grew up there, Claxton players college ball there. Both are on very cheap deals.

Of course, it’s possible that the Hawks could take a big risk, not trade Collins and see what the market will be come August before deciding whether to match. Collins will be a restricted free agent. The Nets wouldn’t be able to make a bid in that scenario. They have no cap space.

Then, there’s the big question? Would the Nets be willing to pay what Collins wants if they acquire him. Brooklyn would have his Bird Rights so they could sign him outside the salary cap but Joe Tsai would have to agree to pay a huge, and ultimately historic, luxury taxes.

The Nets are currently looking at the possibility of maximum extensions for the Big Three: Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and James Harden. Yossi Gozlan, in a Hoopshype podcast with Mike Scotto, laid out what maximum extensions would look like... including what the max numbers would be in 2025-26, when they’d be between 33 and 37 years old.

Harden: four years, $161.1 million

2026: $57.7 million

Durant: four years, $197.7 million

2026: $54.7 million

Irving: four years, $181.6 million

2026: $50.5 million

That’s three $50 million players on the same team in 2026, when Collins might also be under contract. You’re talking nine-figure luxury tax payments every year for a long time. Tsai has shown he’s willing to pay, not just with the Nets but with the Liberty, but it’s a lot to ask any owner even one whose net worth has jumped $4 billion since he first bought into the Nets.

Would Collins fit? A 6’9” power forward who can shoot and rebound? Sure, and long term, Collins could be a piece in what Marks hopes will be a sustainable Nets future. We don’t know whether the Hawks would ultimately agree to trade a key piece, whether the Nets are interested, whether they’d trade assets, whether Tsai would be willing to pay the bill, and of course whether another team would come in and grab Collins. But we would be surprised if we don’t hear more about Collins and Brooklyn. Watch this space.