Saturday, May 18, 2024

Hawks trade Collins to Jazz for Gay, future 2nd round pick

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ATLANTA — The Atlanta Hawks cleared significant salary cap space on Monday by agreeing to trade forward John Collins to the Utah Jazz for veteran forward Rudy Gay and a future second-round draft pick, a person with knowledge of the deal told The Associated Press.

Collins, who was the subject of trade speculation during the offseason and again leading up to last week’s NBA draft, finally was dealt to Utah, according to the person who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the trade cannot become official before July 6.

The trade was first reported by ESPN.

Collins, 25, was a first-round pick in 2017 and scored in double figures in each of his six seasons with Atlanta. He averaged 21.6 points and 10.1 rebounds, both career bests, in the 2019-20 season and 17.6 points per game for the 2021-21 team that advanced to the Eastern Conference finals.

Collins’ scoring declined as Trae Young and other players assumed lead scoring roles. He averaged 13.1 points and 6.5 rebounds this season, when the Hawks suffered their second consecutive first-round exit in the playoffs.

With the Hawks looking to clear salary-cap room, Collins, who is guaranteed $25.3 million in the 2023-24 season, became a much-discussed trade target.

During the draft, the Hawks made a different deal by trading a future second-round pick to Boston for Washington State center Mouhamed Gueye, who was a second-round pick by the Celtics. The Hawks selected guard Kobe Bufkin of Michigan in the first round, at No. 15 overall. The Hawks selected wing player Seth Lundy from Penn State at No. 46 overall.

After the draft, Hawks general manager Landry Fields said he didn’t consider the team’s need to clear salary cap space a barrier to the 2023-24 season.

“I wouldn’t consider it something that’s necessarily difficult,” Fields said. “I don’t know if that’s the right word for it. I think we have things we can look at in time, but I also think part of this is about development and improving our roster that way.”

Gay, 36, is due approximately $6.5 million next season, creating significant savings for Atlanta.

Collins (6-foot-9, 235) brings size and scoring potential to a Utah front line that also includes Lauri Markkanen, 2023 rookie Walker Kessler and last week’s No. 9 overall pick, Taylor Hendricks, a power forward from Central Florida.

Collins’ exit could create more playing time for young forwards AJ Griffin and Jalen Johnson, as well as veteran Saddiq Bay.

Gay (6-8, 250) averaged 5.2 points in 56 games, all as a backup, for Utah in the 2022-23 season. He has averaged 15.8 points per game for his career, including a personal-best 21.1 for Sacramento in the 2014-15 season.

Image credits: AP

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