Knicks get up-close look at Hawks’ trade-bait John Collins
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Atlanta’s John Collins was at the Garden on Monday night and on the trade block.
Collins, selected 19th overall in 2017, is a new-age, sweet-shooting power forward/center at 6-foot-9.
The Knicks are seemingly well-stocked at power forward with potential All-Star Julius Randle and their 2020 lottery pick Obi Toppin.
The Knicks have not yet inquired about Collins. They likely are seeing more of what they have in Toppin and got a firsthand look at the Atlanta stud in Monday’s game, where Collins scored 19 points to go with four rebounds in a 123-112 Knicks win at the Garden.
The Hawks are seeing if there’s a strong market for the former Wake Forest star, but NBA executives feel they won’t trade Collins unless they get a whopping offer. Collins’ value to Atlanta seemed to decrease when they traded last season for center Clint Capela. The team is reportedly listening to offers for Collins because he turned down a $90 million extension offer and can become a restricted free agent this summer.
While he’s been a substandard defender, Collins is still an athletic big man who entered Monday averaging 18.1 points, 7.6 rebounds and 1.0 blocks per game while shooting 39.1 percent from 3. Collins is just 23, and was selected well after Frank Ntilikina (No. 8) and former Knicks guard Dennis Smith Jr. (No. 9) in the draft.
The Knicks are in wait-and-see mode as they deal with Mitchell Robinson’s broken hand that could keep the big man out at least six weeks.
The Hawks reportedly are seeking at least a high lottery pick for Collins. The Knicks potentially have two lottery picks in the 2021 draft — their own and Dallas’s pick. However, the Knicks are currently in playoff position at No. 7 and Dallas is rising.
Perhaps an offer of one of their two first-round picks plus Ntilikina could be enticing, but the Knicks would need to be comfortable with Collins and Randle as a small-ball frontcourt tandem.
Collins and Ntilikina have nearly the same salaries, but the French point guard is out of the Knicks’ rotation.
The Hawks were ballyhooed to be a major playoff threat after a strong offseason in which they signed former Knicks lottery pick Danilo Gallinari, Bogdan Bogdanovic and point guard Rajon Rondo. But they took the Garden court at 11-15, having lost six of their previous seven games.
Cavaliers center Andre Drummond is also on the trade block and is being held out of games until he gets moved. According to a source, Drummond, a Mount Vernon native and impending free agent, would consider the Knicks a good landing spot.
Robinson has another consultation Tuesday before deciding whether he will undergo surgery.
Ntilikina has been away from the team for a week for COVID-19 contact tracing and still tests negative. He’ll join the Knicks “soon,’’ coach Tom Thibodeau said.
Thibodeau said rookie Immanuel Quickley’s next step is “learning the league because they’re learning about him.’’
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