Hawks Part Ways With John Collins, Welcome Newest Team Members

On a day when the Atlanta Hawks showcased their future, news broke that signaled changes to their present.

This afternoon, ESPN NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the Hawks were finalizing a deal to send forward John Collins to the Utah Jazz in return for Rudy Gay and a future second-round draft pick. Several local media sources confirmed Wojnarowski’s reporting.

The deal, which has yet to be confirmed by the Hawks or the Jazz, would end months of speculation over Collins’ future with the team, as he has been rumored for a possible trade a few times in the last couple of seasons.

According to Wojnarowski, the Hawks are unloading Collins three year, $78 million contract. This pushes the team below the luxury tax level Hawks management was reportedly trying to get under. This swap gives the Hawks a $25.3 million trade exception, the largest in the NBA. The team has one year to use the exception to take on a player’s contract. This gives the Hawks wiggle room to strike deals, like contract extensions for Dojounte Murray, Onyeka Okongwu, and Saddiq Bey, players the Hawks would like to keep around.

As for Collins, the 36-year-old is expected to firm up the Jazz’s roster. This is his seventh season in the NBA, and he averaged 13.1 points, 6.5 rebounds, 1.2 assists, and 1.0 blocks per game as a Hawk last season. However, his numbers are off since the 2019-20 season since his peak 21.6 ppg and 10.1 rpg scores.

Still, his soon-to-be former team and their fans will feel Collins’s absence. He was a formidable presence alongside Trae Young since 2021. He has become one of the team’s most popular players not named Trae Young since he arrived on the team in 2017. Young, in a tweet Monday, commented about the deal.

The newest Hawk, Rudy Gay, a 17-year NBA vet is a reserve player for the Jazz. Last season, his second in Utah, he averaged 5.2 ppg and 2.9 rpg in 14.6 mpg. He had a player option for next season, which he reportedly exercised to facilitate the trade, according to NBA.com.

The trade is expected to be finalized on July 6th.

Before news broke of the Collins trade, the Hawks were showcasing the newly drafted representatives of the team’s future, as the three newest members of the squad, Kobe Bufkin, Mouhumad Gueye, and Seth Lundy were formally introduced to the press at the team’s Emory Sports Medicine facility in Brookhaven. All three came courtesy of the NBA Draft last Thursday. See the press conference here. The new players told the reporters on hand that they were learning much about their new team, city and coach in the short time they’ve spent here in Atlanta.

Lundy told reporters that his night at the Draft that would put him in a Hawks uniform was “the best day of my life.” He said that he had gotten to know the veteran players on the team and is learning from watching them play. He also earned a healhty respect of one of the most popular players on the squad.

“Do not get Trae Young mad,” he said.

Bufkin said he was already studying film of other Hawks players like Murray, and is learning the ways of his new coach, Quinn Snyder.

“We had a lot of conversations with him,” said Bufkin about Coach Snyder. “You can tell from the jump that he’s a coach that demands a relationship from his players, and that’s something I enjoy.” Gueye added that “Coach Snyder is all about the details. He really likes details.”

At the end of the presser, General Manager Landry Fields then presented the newest Hawks with their official team jerseys. Bufkin getting #4, Gueye #18 and Lundy #8.

In other Hawks news, the team announced that it has requested waivers on two-way guard Donovan Williams. He was mostly a presence on the Hawks’ G-Leauge team, and only played in two Hawks games. In the G-Leauge he averaged per game 12.9 points, 4.1 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 1.o steals.