Why did jazz deal with John Collins?

SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah Jazz made a big addition to the lineup when they traded Rudy Gay and another pick to the Atlanta Hawks for forward John Collins.

Collins has long been rumored as a Jazz target, and after more than a year of speculation, the deal was finally completed.

With the deal agreed upon, let’s examine how Collins fits in Utah and how he changes the team’s outlook.

Why did jazz deal with John Collins?

The most pressing post-trade question for Collins is how he fits with the Jazz.

Positionally, Collins is the natural favorite to move into the team’s starting lineup between Walker Kessler and Lauri Markkanen at the power forward position.

Although Collins is the shortest player in the Jazz’s front court, at 6-foot-8, Markkanen has proven to be best suited on the perimeter, operating in more of a traditional small forward position, setting Collins up to serve as an off-ball four.

Beyond that, his role becomes a little more questionable.

After shooting just 29 percent from the three-point line last season, Collins’ ability or inability to space the floor will go a long way toward determining his responsibilities on offense.

If Collins can no longer be counted on as a reliable floor spacer, his offensive production will be heavily dependent on the pick and roll and in transition.

That’s less ideal for the Jazz, who already have Kessler eating up the majority of pick-and-roll opportunities in the starting lineup, leaving Collins in a similarly minor role to the one he played in Atlanta alongside Clint Capela.

In addition, the modern NBA relies heavily on maximizing floor spacing, and if Collins’ shooting percentages don’t return, the lack of spacing in the Jazz’s frontcourt will hurt the production of both Markkanen and Kessler.

But that’s the worst-case scenario, and there are several reasons for optimism about Collins’ shooting.

First, he’s a career 35 percent three-point shooter and had shot better than 37 percent over the first five seasons of his career before last year’s dramatic slump.

Second, a significant injury to the ring finger on his shooting hand caused Collins problems early in the year, but is not expected to have long-term consequences.

Third, Collins’ shooting numbers improved significantly late in the season, thanks both to the improved health of his ring finger and his adjusted role within Quin Snyder’s offense.

When Snyder scored over the final 21 games of the season, Collins’ three-point shooting percentage jumped from 25 percent on 3.2 attempts per game to an impressive 38 percent on 3.8 per game.

In the postseason, Collins’ numbers dipped slightly, but still hovered at a reasonable 34 percent on 5.3 attempts per game.

Ideally, Collins’ three-point shooting percentage would rest in the high 30s next season, but even at 34-35 percent, he’s a dangerous weapon, especially when combined with his high-efficiency scoring at the rim.

Fortunately for the Jazz, even if he doesn’t see an uptick in shooting, they have several options in the frontcourt to pair with Collins to maximize his pick-and-roll capabilities.

Although Collins can start as a floor spacer next to Kessler, he could still get plenty of reps as a roll man or in the dunker spot if the Jazz keep Kelly Olynyk and make him the team’s primary backup center.

If Olynyk is not retained by the Jazz, Damian Jones also flashed his floor spacing late last season, which could create room for Collins to operate close to the rim with the second unit. Lastly, rookie Taylor Hendricks should also pair nicely with Collins as a floor spacer.

While the Jazz may have preferred more of a pure floor spacer at the four, there are plenty of ways to keep Collins engaged to make the trade a worthwhile venture.

Defensively, Collins’ size fits in well with the Jazz, providing some versatility and an additional weak-side shot blocker.

He’s certainly not a lockdown defender, but his athleticism and length are more than adequate next to Markkanen and Kessler, and the effort is reliable.

The immediate costs

The Jazz overpaid for Collins, sending Gay’s negative-value contract and a second-round pick to Atlanta for a rotation-heavy player.

A signing from the Danny Ainge and Justin Zanik Jazz front office has been the desire to preserve or increase the value of the team’s assets, and flipping Gay and a second rounder for a player like Collins is an excellent upgrade over an otherwise worthless one. player.

Gay was one of the worst rotation players in the NBA last season, and at $6.5 million, it was hard to justify eating up a roster spot on a drastically overpriced contract.

The 18-year veteran is unlikely to make the move to Atlanta, and his career may well be over unless he finds a cash-strapped team looking for a veteran power forward a la the Phoenix Suns or Boston Celtics.

John Collins contract

Although the Jazz paid a low upfront price with Collins, his long-term price point is a little harder to swallow.

Collins is owed about $77 million over the next three seasons, including a player option worth over $26 million in the final year of his deal.

After averaging just 13.1 points and 6.5 rebounds while shooting a poor 29 percent from the three-point line, it’s fair to say Collins is overpaid at his current level of production.

By acquiring the forward, the Jazz hope he can return to being the player he was when he signed a five-year, $125 million deal after averaging 19.2 points and 8.5 rebounds while shooting 40 percent from three in the run of its third and fourth seasons. NBA.

If Collins sees his production increase, he becomes a serious threat to opt out of the final year of his deal as he turns 27 years old and enters his prime, lowering the long-term cost to the Jazz.

But even if Collins chooses to stay with his entire deal, with the NBAs expected $50 million jump in salary cap during the 2025-26 seasonthe newest Jazzman deal is far from hideous.

The Jazz sacrificed some cap flexibility with the addition of Collins over the next few seasons, but can still be active in free agency for players under the max.

The cost timeline

While Collins’ price may be high based on his production last season, the financial structure of his deal fits the Jazz’s current timeline.

After reportedly missing out on the opportunity to pursue Kristaps Porzingis in free agency, the Jazz turned to another frontcourt option before the market opened in earnest on July 1st.

While there is sticker shock with Collins’ price tag, the length of his deal fits well with the Jazz’s existing contracts.

With no other player on the Jazz currently set to make more than $20 million over the next three seasons, the Jazz are not hampered by any major deals already on the books.

Lauri Markkanen will become an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2026, which coincides with the final year of Collins’ current deal.

If Collins signs up and the Jazz were to sign Marrkanen to a max contract, the team would be on the hook for about $95 million between the two frontcourt players and guard Collin Sexton through the 2026-27 season with an expected $175 million salary cap hit.

But in the summer of 2027, both Collins and Sexton would hit free agency, as well as Walker Kessler and Ochai Agbahi becoming eligible for rookie extensions, allowing the Jazz to avoid luxury tax implications.

Would other options have been better than Collins?

The Jazz have had rumored interest in both Kyle Kuzma and Harrison Barnes in recent years, but even with competitive offers, they wouldn’t have a guarantee that either pending free agency would sign in Utah.

Barnes has developed into a solid floor-spanner who would fit in with the Jazz’s current lineup, but at 31 doesn’t fit the long-term timeline and lacks Collins’ upside.

The Jazz might have been able to land Barnes at a slightly lower price (think $17-20 million) over the next three seasons, but they still would have been stuck with Gay’s deal for one more year.

At 27, Kuzma fits the Jazz’s rebuilding timeline better than Barnes, but his cost will likely match or exceed Collins’ $25 million, and his deal could be longer than three years.

Kuzma is coming off the best season of his career, averaging a career-high 21.2 points while adding 7.2 rebounds, but his 33 percent success rate from the three-point line is two percentage points below Collins and he is two years older.

The Jazz could also have kicked the tires on Jerami Grant, Christian Wood or Grant Williams, but none of the three would have come at a huge discount, and they aren’t sure what to sign in Utah.

Ultimately, the Jazz could have tested free agency in hopes of luring a similar one at a lower price, but were able to avoid those bidding wars and can now turn their attention elsewhere.

The Jazz are more talented with Collins than they were with Gay, and even at an above-market price, they increased their ability to win games while maintaining long-term flexibility.

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Ben Anderson is a Utah Jazz insider for KSL Sports and co-host of Jake and Ben from 10-12 with Jake Scott on 97.5 KSL Sports Zone. Find Ben on Twitter at @BensHoops or on Instagram @BensHoops.

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