Hawks talk John Collins deals, Suns show interest as trade market begins to take shape: Shams’ Inside Pass

NBA teams are just about one month from a marquee date on the trade market calendar, Dec. 15, and front-office executives are monitoring the buyers, sellers and available players. As The Athletic‘s Sam Amick and John Hollinger have recently written, the early season’s strong play by the Utah Jazz and other surprising starts by rebuilding franchises like the Indiana Pacers and San Antonio Spurs are a far cry from the tanking many clamored about during training camp. As always, the buyers and sellers will reveal themselves as the season goes on.

Across the league, multiple teams are tracking the Phoenix Suns in the trade market as they work to find a home for disgruntled forwards Jae Crowder. The Milwaukee Bucks and Atlanta Hawks have been engaged with the Suns on a potential Crowder deal in recent weeks and months, but recently there’s been a new wrinkle across the trade landscape.

The Hawks have opened up preliminary trade discussions around the forward John Collinsas interested teams inquire, league sources tell The Athletic. The Suns are a team showing desire in Collins, those sources have added, but they appear disinclined to take on the long-term money of Collins, who is in the second season of a five-year, $125 million contract. The Hawks don’t have an imminent deal in place involving Collins, those sources say, and executives around the league believe a potential deal will be weeks and potentially months in the making ahead of Feb. 9 trade deadline.

The Suns have a handful of first-rounders to move, but given the team’s impending ownership change, it’s also uncertain how many future assets the current regime can move. In addition, the Suns expressed interest in forwards such as Sacramento‘s Harrison Barnes, Washington‘s Kyle Kuzma and Houston‘s KJ Martin, league sources have said.

The Suns engaged in rookie extension negotiations with Cam Johnson prior to the regular season, with a final offer of four years in the range of $66 million, sources say. Phoenix refused to move higher towards the figure Johnson desired. He is currently sidelined after undergoing surgery to remove part of his right meniscus.

“Negotiations are interesting, especially when ownership is unclear,” Johnson said when the extension deadline expired without a deal. The Suns’ valuable starting forward will now enter restricted free agency in July as one of the most versatile and sought after players in the open market.

The inclusion of Collins in the trade talks is not uncommon. For several years now, the Hawks have had a bevy of suitors for Collins, who has established himself as a high-flying impact talent in the frontcourt. Collins battled through multiple hand and foot injuries last season, and after an offseason of trade chatter, returned to the organization with a new All-Star backcourt of Trae Young and Dejounte Murray.

Off to a 9-6 start, Atlanta has the ability to be judicious in its approach to discussions from interested parties. So far this season, Collins is averaging 12.6 points (the lowest since his rookie season in 2017-18) and a career-low 22.7 percent 3-point range to go along with 7.7 rebounds per game.

More NBA news and notes…

Knicks willing to move guards

The Knicks have shown a willingness to discuss Derrick Rose and Immanuel Quickley in trade talks, league sources say, as a way to sort out the team’s glut at the guard position over the course of the season.

76ers officials have begun their usual check-ins with teams across the league ahead of the Dec. 15 date for players who signed contracts in the offseason to be traded, when trade talks begin to intensify. Philadelphia’s Tobias Harris has come up in the 76ers’ conversations with clubs so far, league sources said.

In his 12th NBA season, Harris has adapted to a new role and has been regarded as a model teammate and leader for the 76ers. He averaged 14.7 points and 6.2 rebounds while attempting 12.1 field goals per game — the lowest since his 2015-16 season in Orlando.

(Top Photo: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

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