Hawks Trade John Collins to Jazz, Create Massive Exception
The Atlanta Hawks have made a significant move to bolster their financial flexibility, reportedly trading forward John Collins to the Utah Jazz. According to sources, the deal allows the Hawks to acquire Rudy Gay and a future second-round pick in exchange for Collins, who has approximately $78 million remaining on his contract over the next three seasons. The transaction also creates a substantial $25.3 million trade exception for the Hawks, making it the largest in the NBA. Atlanta has a year to utilize this exception to absorb another player’s contract.
Finalization of the trade is pending until July 6.
By acquiring Collins, aged 25, the Jazz gained a versatile forward to complement All-Star Lauri Markkanen and All-Rookie center Walker Kessler on their front line. In addition, the Jazz recently selected power forward Taylor Hendricks from Central Florida with the ninth pick in the NBA draft. With the offensive prowess displayed under first-year coach Will Hardy, Collins’ arrival could significantly contribute to the Jazz’s bid to return to the Western Conference playoffs in the upcoming season.
Discussions surrounding various iterations of this deal between the Hawks and Jazz have been ongoing for more than a year. However, due to the impending changes in the NBA’s new collective bargaining agreement, finding a suitable return for Collins, given the balance of his contract, has proven challenging. A similar situation arose when the Golden State Warriors recently offloaded Jordan Poole and the $130 million-plus owed to him.
The acquisition of Gay by the Hawks provides them with added financial flexibility. Gay exercised his $6.4 million player option for the next season as part of the trade, as confirmed by his agent, Sam Permut of Roc Nation Sports. This move allows the Hawks to significantly reduce their salary obligations, falling well below the $182.5 million second apron and the $165 million luxury tax threshold for the 2023-24 season.
Despite this, sources indicate that the Hawks are expected to remain active in pursuing further deals this offseason. Ownership has reportedly given general manager Landry Fields permission to operate above the luxury tax to enhance the team’s roster.
Collins’ departure from the Hawks also creates opportunities for contract extensions for several young core players, including Dejounte Murray, Onyeka Okongwu, and Saddiq Bey. Additionally, forward Jalen Johnson is expected to assume a more prominent role in his third season with the team.
By positioning themselves below the NBA’s new second-apron tax level ahead of 2024, the Hawks have safeguarded themselves against potential punitive team-building provisions that could have severely limited their roster flexibility.
Collins has been a success story for the Hawks, having been selected as the 19th overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft. He has developed into one of the Eastern Conference’s top forwards, averaging 15.8 points and 8.0 rebounds per game over six seasons with Atlanta. In the 2022-23 season, Collins averaged 13.1 points and 6.5 rebounds. ESPN Stats & Information data reveal that among players active in each of the past six seasons, Collins is one of just five to average 15 points on shooting above 55%. The other four players achieving this feat are Nikola Jokic, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jonas Valanciunas, and Domantas Sabonis.