With the NBA Draft behind us and the San Antonio Spurs selecting yet another guard in Josh Primo, it just became even more important for the team to acquire help in the frontcourt in free agency. With nearly $50 million in cap space, the Spurs have been linked to John Collins for months now.
The 23-year-old Collins will be coming into his fifth NBA season having played exclusively played with the Atlanta Hawks. Over the course of his four-year career with the team, he's averaged 16.6 points, 8.4 rebounds, and 1.5 assists per game. This past season, he managed to shoot at 40% from beyond the arc. On paper, the 6'9" power forward is exactly the kind of player that the Spurs are probably looking for.
Despite some rumors from a few weeks ago indicating that the Hawks may have trouble keeping their young core together, though, it now looks like the team is being much more aggressive trying to bring Collins back. Reports that have come out today suggest that he is likely to make his return to the Hawks on a four-year, $120 million deal.
Gathering the sentiment of Hawks fans online, it appears that while the majority see such a deal as a bit of an overpay for Collins, many are glad that he isn't receiving a max deal. At this point, considering some earlier reports as well, it may take a max deal to pry Collins away from the Hawks.
With that in mind, these reports shouldn't necessarily scare the Spurs' front office away. If the team is intent on competing at any point in the near future, Collins is probably the best remaining free agent on the market that makes winning possible. If the Spurs are comfortable with offering Collins a max contract, the team has the money to do so and they will need to consider pulling the trigger.
Personally, I'm not so sure that Collins is worth a max contract, even for the Spurs. The team will have to renew contracts for both Lonnie Walker and Keldon Johnson within the next couple of offseasons, and having a max contract on their payroll could ultimately limit what they could offer each of them. Offering Collins a max contract would mean that they're comfortable with that possibility and that they're confident they can put together a winning team sooner rather than later.
Given the fact that the Spurs just recently drafted the youngest player in the NBA draft, if I were forced to guess, I think the team will be going in a different direction. But if they feel that they have the pieces available that could compose a playoff team, then an aggressive pursuit for Collins could be the difference-maker.