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Atlanta GM: Team would “love to get an extension done” with John Collins

Kurt Helin and Corey Robinson break down who they think are the NBA's most improved teams after early free agency and explain why Phoenix and Atlanta could find themselves in the playoffs.

Atlanta signed Danilo Gallinari as a free agent stretch four and drafted USC center Onyeka Okongwu this offseason, and they traded for Rockets’ center Clint Capela at the last trade deadline. All of that has led to a lot of speculation around the league about the future of John Collins as a Hawk. The power forward who averaged 21.6 points and 10.1 rebounds a game is up for an extension to his contract and thinks he has earned the max. The Hawks reportedly do not want to pay that much.

The sides are talking, and Hawks GM Travis Schlenk said on Wednesday in a press conference he would like to work out a contract for Collins.

That is what any GM would say in this spot. The only question that matters is, can the two sides find a number that works?

Collins put up those gaudy offensive numbers in Atlanta as a pick-setting, rim-running big man who can also space the floor from three on a catch-and-shoot. However, Capela is also a pick-setting, rim-running big man with better defense (Capela was the guy setting picks for James Harden in Houston until Mike D’Antoni moved away from any picks). Mix in Okongwu as a backup five and Gallinari as a stretch four who also is a secondary playmaker, and it’s possible to see Collins as redundant.

Atlanta plans to start Collins and Caplela together, with Gallinari coming off the bench, Schlenk said in his press conference. He also said Collins and Gallinari could play together. Whether or not Collins and Capela fit together is something to watch, but the roster construction provides coach Lloyd Pierce options.

It comes down to money. If the Hawks and Collins can’t agree to a number before the season starts, look for the Collins trade rumors to heat up fast.