Hawks forward John Collins has been in the news as of late, with Shams Charania of The Athletic reporting on Monday that the big man is dissatisfied with his role in Atlanta, and Charania’s colleague Chris Kirschner adding that Collins has spoken to Nate McMillan about his offensive role but doesn’t feel like his concerns have been addressed. Charania noted within his story that Collins could even become a trade chip if Atlanta makes a serious play for Ben Simmons.
In the wake of those reports, Kirschner caught up with Collins for a more in-depth discussion. During that conversation, the 24-year-old admitted that he has been frustrated this season by both his role on offense and by the Hawks’ struggles. The team is currently 17-22, 12th in the East.
Speaking to Kirschner, Collins pointed out that his usage rate this season is the lowest it’s been since he was a rookie, but explained that he’s not necessarily asking to get the ball more — he wants his role to be more clearly defined by McMillan, who has said he doesn’t really call plays for the big man.
“I’m not sitting here complaining and saying I need more touches of the ball, or I need to score more points or need more shots. I’ve never complained about that,” Collins said. “All I’ve said, specifically, if there’s a way that I feel like is beneficial for everybody — and not just myself — is for us to be used in the correct way. That’s the angle I’m taking. If I’m saying it, it’s for us. I just want to be put in the best position to succeed, and that’s it. I feel like I’ve sacrificed and have continued to sacrifice as much as I can for the team. I just want to make sure that’s clear.”
Collins shared several more candid thoughts with Kirschner in the Q&A, which is worth checking out in full if you’re an Athletic subscriber. Here are a few more highlights:
On whether his frustration with his role is more acute this season because of the Hawks’ losing record:
“Of course. Everything is harder. My lunches and dinners taste worse. Going to sleep is harder. Everything is worse when you lose. When you win, it covers up a lot of s–t. When you lose, it uncovers a lot of s–t. When you lose, you want the situation to be fixed and figure out a way to handle it, but I know a lot of s–t starts to eke out when you lose like we have. That’s the type of s–t that happens when you’re losing. It’s part of the job.”
On why things are more challenging this season for Atlanta:
“Sometimes having success makes things difficult going forward. I think what we’re dealing with now is understanding the pressure of teams coming harder at us than before after seeing us play deep into the playoffs. Everybody is game-planning for us at a higher level, even though we’re in the regular season. Teams aren’t sleeping on us like we traditionally expected, at least for me, since I’ve been a Hawk. It’s a different situation now when teams come in here.
“It’s not saying we’re not ready, but it’s definitely a change of mentality. I think that sort of shocked us in the beginning and didn’t necessarily get us off to the right start. That’s the only issue I can see. It’s hard sometimes when you have success to repeat it. The East got better too.”
On whether he has had second thoughts about his desire to remain with the Hawks long-term:
“No. That’s why it’s frustrating when I’m mentioned in those kinds of (trade rumors). It always makes my fans, teammates and the organization not know where I might stand. I can’t be responsible for how someone feels when they’re processing what they’re reading. What I’m upset about is, sometimes, I can’t control my own narrative. I do my best to do so, but it’s part of the job. In terms of the Hawks and Atlanta, I don’t need to talk about it because I’ve talked about it enough. This is where I want to be.”