The Hawks dumping John Collins’ pay is the most embarrassing thing to happen in the last three years. The Hawks cut both John Collins and their salary after spending weeks denying rumors that they were about to do so in order to avoid the NBA’s luxury tax or that Collins was not a good long-term fit for the team. Get the facts.
There will be different levels of great spin on what happened on Monday, but at least this franchise has now acknowledged reality with its actions, and Collins can move forward trying to restore his career.
Collins’ uncle and confidant, Chris Broaden, sent the message, “Free ultimately.”
A word on Collins before we dive into the money matters of Atlanta’s first major offseason trade and what to expect moving forward. He had just finished his worst season as a full-time starter (13.1 ppg, 29.2% 3-point shooting), and he had become a punchline for many fans and some media outlets, in no small part because of the constant drama of trade delays. and production has not yet hit the $125 million cap on a five-year contract.
But there was a rewritten version of events. Collins was once one of the most beloved and respected players on the team and was often heralded as a 20-and-10 forward and great pick-and-roll finisher alongside Trae Younger. Over the following years, there were numerous attempts to trade Collins when opinions in the front office changed regarding his future with the team, but his value fell and management or ownership found the asset’s performance potential unacceptable.
The error was monumental. Because Collins, no doubt exhausted by it all and having played a reduced role in the assault last season, had a gloomy year and his value continued to decrease, like a three-sleeved shirt on the defective clothes table.
Collins is happy to see the new era start. His decision to forego exit interviews the day after the team’s playoff loss to the Celtics showed that he was clearly over Atlanta and ready to move on. It’s hard not to feel sorry for him.
The results of the last three rumored seasons were a public embarrassment. Consider this option. For the soon-to-be 37-year-old Rudy Homosexual (whom they couldn’t even hold) and a second-round draft pick, the Hawks parted with Collins, who was still competent, powerful defensively, and younger at 25. The Hawks must place a high value on second-round picks, as they parted with five (five!) of them in exchange for Saddiq Bey.
To put it bluntly, it was a DUMP. The current labor force is relatively small. The onus is on General Manager Landry Fields and the new front office to improve the roster while increasing financial leeway. After being drafted, he was honest about his athleticism and said, “It’ll take time.” Progress will be made thanks to Quin Snyder’s instructions.
When seen through the lens of pure profit, the decision to sell Collins is obvious. His $25.34 million salary for 2023–24 has been eliminated, saving the workforce the equivalent of $6.47 million that was owed to homosexuals. Collins’ minimum obligation for the next two years is $51.92 million, and if he uses his 2025 participant option, it rises to $78.5 million.
If a team’s decision-makers don’t believe the membership will be in competition for a title, it makes little financial sense to spend more than $165 million on luxury taxes. The 2023–24 Hawks will not be contending for a title, so that fact will not be featured in any promotional materials.
In no way is this a take-away. But this is a fresh start. Without the tax burden, they may still explore trade options involving senior players like center Clint Capela and forward De’Andre Hunter. In addition, the Collins company can qualify for a $25 million tax break on business activity for a single year. No one should think it will be put to use.
If you want to know more about the Hawks’ plans for next year, this is a good place to start:
It comes as no surprise, but Dejounte Murray, a fullback, will not have a successful career. Several organizations have inquired as to his availability, but for weeks now, there have been signs that Fields and Snyder hold him in the highest regard. It’s also quite improbable that the Hawks will acquire enough property to make up for what they gave away last summer (including two unprotected first-round selections).
Kobe Bufkin, Mouhamed Gueye, and Seth Lundy, the Hawks’ three draft picks, all said Monday that Murray congratulated and recommended them shortly after the draft. Not even Fields was surprised by this. That’s a huge part of Dejounte Murray’s persona, he said on Monday.
Fields said, “I need Dejounte right here,” when asked if Murray’s personality traits made him rethink keeping him. He possesses enormous quantities of the resource for which we are searching. I look at that and think, “That is what he has always done, ever since the day we traded him.” I told them (the groups) that he is the kind of guy we should continue building with. The risk is that Murray won’t indicate his interest in signing an extension until he’s had a chance to research his free-agent options.
Barring any other changes to the roster, the loss of Collins seems to indicate that Jalen Johnson and AJ Griffin will see an increase in their playing time. This is consistent with the strategy of reducing costs while creating a cohesive and effective team out of younger, less expensive players.
How well Younger, Murray, and the rest of the team adjust to Snyder and his method in the first year is crucial to the success of the team in the coming year. There may be temporary success if everything goes well. To be clear, though, Collins’ work should not be viewed as a form of subtractive creativity. After all, we’re just subtracting.