The Minnesota Timberwolves often come up as a potential trade partner this offseason. They’ve been linked to one of the most controversial stars who could be on the move, Ben Simmons, and now there is some speculation that they’re interested in Atlanta Hawks forward John Collins. Shams Charania of The Athletic reported that the Wolves are one of a few hotly pursuing Collins, who is set to be a restricted free agent. And while this isn’t the first time there’s been a link of interest between Minnesota and Collins, Minnesota’s desire to trade for him doesn’t make much sense.
The Wolves don’t have a lot of cap space to work with, and Collins was a key contributor for the Hawks in their improbable run to the Eastern Conference Finals, and he recently turned down an extension that was north of $90 million. Colins wanted max player money, bet on himself, and should reap the benefits soon.
To snag Collins, Minnesota would have to work out a sign-and-trade with the Hawks. Atlanta isn’t going to be content with getting a Juicy Lucy and an autographed team basketball. They’ll want solid pieces, and rightfully so.
It doesn’t make sense for the Wolves to include D’Angelo Russell in a Collins trade, but Anthony Edwards and Karl-Anthony Towns are untouchable. So outside of Russell, there likely isn’t a sign-and-trade package Minnesota can offer that would intrigue Atlanta. Why would they want DLo? He could work off the ball with Trae Young in place. And sure, it’s a nice fit for them. But are the Wolves really getting any better getting Collins and dumping Russell? Probably not.
Minnesota’s interest in Collins makes sense because they could really use a power forward to fill out the front court next to Towns.
Across the league, many believe Hawks forward/center John Collins increased his value as a maximum contract-caliber player during Atlanta’s run to the Eastern Conference finals. In 18 postseason games, Collins averaged 13.9 points, 8.7 rebounds and 35.7 percent 3-point shooting.
Dallas, Miami, San Antonio and Minnesota are among the teams expected to show interest in Collins, believing he could be attainable as a restricted free agent, sources said.
It’s commendable that Gersson Rosas is staying active, and it’s good to hear the Wolves lumped in with some big-name teams. But in this instance, the Wolves are better off letting Mark Cuban and Pat Riley fight over him.
For as much flack as he gets for his playoff woes this season, Ben Simmons would make much more sense for Minnesota, even knowing that the Philadelphia 76ers would want a package built around Russell and Malik Beasley. What core three would pose a bigger threat for the rest of the Western Conference? Simmons-Edwards-Towns or Edwards-Collins-Towns? Recency bias may make you inclined to favor the latter trio, but logically it’s the former.
This isn’t the first time that Rosas and the Wolves are smitten with Collins. Rumor has it that conversations took place between the two teams at the trade deadline, and Atlanta wanted Beasley and a first-round pick. But the Wolves knew that Collins was hitting restricted free agency and that they wouldn’t make the playoffs. Them circling back now shouldn’t be surprising, but it still doesn’t mean that their roster is better off with Collins.
Everyone loves Ricky Rubio, but does anyone really want him to be the starting point guard in 2021? Minnesota doesn’t have a draft pick or much cap space, and acquiring Collins likely means dealing Russell. If that’s the case, it’s almost a certainty that Rubio would be the starting 1 guard. The reunion is a feel-good story, but it’s hard to believe that Rubio, 30, is the future at that position.
Collins’ story is great. He turned down a big extension, bet on himself, and came through in a big way. Now, he’s set to see his plan come to the light with a massive extension from someone. It just shouldn’t be Minnesota.