NBA Trade Deadline: Swapping Jaren Jackson Jr. For Atlanta Hawks Forward John Collins Could Be a Game-Changer for Ja Morant and the Memphis Grizzlies

The Atlanta Hawks have been involved in trade rumors for the past few weeks, ever since general manager Travis Schlenk reportedly decided to host a firesale and make everyone other than Trae Young and Clint Capela available.

Meanwhile, Ja Morant has put himself into the MVP conversation and his team into possible championship territory. While the Memphis Grizzlies haven’t been involved in any concrete trade rumors, the Grizz have the pieces available to make a deal if they so choose.

Perhaps there’s a move that could benefit both parties — a swap of the Grizzlies’ Jaren Jackson Jr. for Atlanta’s John Collins.

The Atlanta Hawks have entrenched themselves in the NBA’s trade rumor mill

Atlanta has already made one trade leading up to the deadline, sending Cam Reddish to the New York Knicks. All signs point to that move just being the first of many.

The Hawks have been underwhelming thus far in 2021-22, especially considering all the buzz that surrounded the franchise after an appearance in the Eastern Conference Finals a season ago. But as of Jan. 20, the team is just 19-25 and three games back of the Toronto Raptors for a spot in a play-in tournament.

Earlier in January, Schlenk said on Atlanta radio station 92.9 The Game, per Chris Kirschner and John Hollinger of The Athletic, “There are only (three) times we can make changes: the draft, free agency, and the trade deadline. It’s my responsibility to put a product on the floor that can win, and right now, I’m questioning whether or not I’ve done that.”

The Atlanta Hawks have been mired in trade rumors ever since.

A Bleacher Report story by Jake Fischer then confirmed that, indeed, everyone but Young and Capela was available.

The Grizz would do well, then, to jump in and take advantage of Collins’ availability and swap their young forward for Atlanta’s.

Trading for John Collins could move the Memphis Grizzlies closer to a championship

Trading Jaren Jackson Jr. for the Atlanta Hawks John Collins, who has been involved in trade rumors recently, would go a long way toward helping the Memphis Grizzlies title chances.
John Collins of the Atlanta Hawks reacts after dunking against Karl-Anthony Towns of the Minnesota Timberwolves. | Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Memphis could be set with the roster it has. Morant has exploded onto the scene — literally — and after a rough start, the Grizzlies have gone 25-6. There’s a recent 11-game win streak in there as well.

The team now sits third in the Western Conference standings.

But an upgrade or two would improve the franchise’s chance at winning a championship this season. Ja has proven the future is now in Memphis; the team needs to function accordingly.

A swap of Jackson for Collins would be a step in that direction.

JJJ has a rookie extension that kicks in next season, so a deal would require some cap gymnastics. But it could look something like this:

Memphis Grizzlies receive: John Collins, Gorgui Dieng

Atlanta Hawks receive: Jaren Jackson Jr., Kyle Anderson, 2024 first-round pick swap via Golden State Warriors

It’s the one-for-one trade with Dieng’s $4 million expiring contract going to Memphis in return for Anderson’s $9.9 million expiring deal and a future pick swap to sweeten the deal (the Grizzlies have three first-rounders this year alone and would still have one in 2024).

This deal is about fit. Collins works better next to Morant, while Jackson works better next to Young.

The 24-year-old Hawks forward is one of the best pick-and-roll players in the NBA. Running that action with Ja rather than Trae would further unlock Collins’ athleticism as Morant’s downhill ferocity draws multiple defenders, opening up more space for the Wake Forest product.

Collins is also hitting a career-high 43.5% from deep this year, which would help space the floor around Ja. And the Grizzlies superstar is more willing to play off the ball and defer to his teammates than Trae is, so Collins would get his wish of more touches.

Jackson, on the other hand, has a much higher ceiling. While both possess elite athleticism, Atlanta’s forward is 6-foot-9, and Jackson is closer to being a 7-footer. JJJ is also a much better shot-blocker — he’s stuffing more than two shots a game this year and has blocked five in multiple contests.

He’s also a career 35.4% shooter from three, so he wouldn’t be sitting on the block next to Capela clogging the lane.

A rim-protecting floor-spacer fits more snugly next to Young than Collins does.

A swap of power forwards would benefit both franchises

This trade would be a win-win for both teams. Schlenk would unload an unhappy asset and receive a player with higher upside who fits better next to his franchise point guard.

He would also get almost $10 million in cap room for next season and a shot at a future first.

Meanwhile, the Grizzlies would also find a better fit for their franchise point guard, and Collins is a more finished product than JJJ, which would increase the team’s chances of making a push for a title right now.

Memphis may have been planning for the future prior to this season. But Morant has made it clear that future is now. So it’s time to, as they say, go for it.

All statistics courtesy of NBA.com.

RELATED: NBA Trade Rumors: The Atlanta Hawks Appear Ready to Completely Blow up Their Roster Around Trae Young as Everybody but He and Clint Capela Are ‘Available’