The NBA machine continues to turn after the 2023 NBA Draft with another big-name player on the move. After years of NBA trade rumors, John Collins was finally traded from the Atlanta Hawks to the Utah Jazz. The deal was surprising and is one that Los Angeles Lakers fans should raise an eyebrow toward.
All Atlanta got in return for Collins was Rudy Gay’s expiring contract and a second-round pick. It is clear that Atlanta was simply trying to save money and create financial flexibility in the future.
While Collins is coming off of a down year, he is still a young player with real value. Getting him at this price point would have been exceptional, even if there are some risks involved with bringing him in.
The worst part of all is that the Lakers had a trade package that they absolutely could have sent the Hawks.
Lakers will regret not making this trade with the Hawks for John Collins.
Atlanta would not have saved as much money with this trade package as the team did with the Jazz package but they still would have saved money. Malik Beasley is on an expiring contract so he doesn’t hurt the team’s long-term flexibility and Mo Bamba’s contract is non-guaranteed.
Atlanta could have waived Bamba for no cost and brought in a shooter in Beasley that could actually be part of the rotation next season. Gay is not going to play much of a role. Atlanta would have probably been better off spending the extra $10 million (while still saving money) for an actual rotation player.
For the Lakers, this would have been a great buy-low move with a potentially high ceiling. Collins needs a change of scenery and away from Trae Young, he could thrive again. Collins would be a great forward to put next to Anthony Davis as he would benefit from Davis’ gravitational pull while providing floor-spacing for the Lakers.
His $25.3 million salary is a bit overpriced but the Lakers would be better off paying that than paying D’Angelo Russell that kind of money. Plus, the NBA salary cap will continue to go up, so the third year of his contract (with LeBron James’ deal eventually feeding up) won’t seem as bad.
Los Angeles needs to add someone who can legitimately be a third or fourth option on a title-contending team and John Collins was sitting there waiting to be taken. For some reason, the Lakers didn’t take the bait.