Boston Celtics: B/R wants John Collins to replace Al Horford in starting five

Bleacher Report's Joe Tansey believes the Boston Celtics must make a move to replace Al Horford in the starting five with Atlanta Hawks big man John Collins Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
Bleacher Report's Joe Tansey believes the Boston Celtics must make a move to replace Al Horford in the starting five with Atlanta Hawks big man John Collins Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports /

Bleacher Report’s Joe Tansey doesn’t believe the Boston Celtics are good enough to repeat as Eastern Conference champions with Al Horford in the starting lineup, citing his age as a factor for why he isn’t the man to man the power forward position in 2022-23. In Horford’s stead at the 4, Tansey suggests the Celtics pursue Atlanta Hawks big man John Collins — who has long been rumored to be a trade target due to a perceived disconnect within the offense with their franchise point guard Trae Young.

As the Houdini has maintained throughout the past several seasons pertaining to Collins, at just 24 years old, the Wake Forest product does make a ton of sense as a long-term fit growing alongside Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. Given the current rumors floating around about the San Antonio Spurs being in advanced talks with the Hawks that once included Collins but ultimately won’t see him shipped off in a Dejounte Murray deal, the Utah-born big is likely being talked about in other deals at the moment as well. After Atlanta was bounced in the first round of the postseason in a gentleman’s sweep at the hands of the Miami Heat, there’s a strong chance they finally do pull the trigger on a deal for their second highest paid player.

In that scenario, the Boston Celtics would surely have to be considered a contender to land him considering their willingness to part with future draft picks in order to go all in on the C’s current core. To make a deal work salary-wise, Celtics PBO Brad Stevens could offer up Derrick White and a combination of young players (Grant Williams, Payton Pritchard) and the necessary draft capital to bridge the value gap. That’s assuming the front office doesn’t want to part with a core piece like Marcus Smart in order to get a deal done.

The Hawks’ high-flying, floor-stretching big man is too good not to be given starter minutes, so should the Cs make a blockbuster deal for Collins if it were to come at the expense of Horford and the team’s starting five, who NBC Sports Boston’s Chris Forsberg (and raw numbers) recognized as the league’s best?

Tansey thinks so, again citing Horford’s age as a reason to replace him in the starting five in his piece entitled ‘Why Celtics Should Target John Collins Trade amid Nicolas Batum Free-Agency Rumors‘:

"“The Celtics should be looking to replace (Al Horford’s) role in the starting lineup. At 36, Horford could still be useful as a role player, but adding a younger player next to Robert Williams may be the piece that keeps the team atop the Eastern Conference. If Golden State is already planning to get younger and the Memphis Grizzlies have a young core, it would make sense for the Celtics to follow that route with Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Collins forming a “Big Three” and Williams occupying the center position.”"

The Boston Celtics may not have the assets to land John Collins

Knowing that Jaylen Brown is off the table in any John Collins trade–and assuming that things have changed since February when many, including MassLive’s Brian Robb, actively wanted to see Marcus Smart traded for the Hawks big–there may not be enough assets to land him in a deal.

As mentioned before, the best C’s trade package starts with Derrick White — though that’s assuming the team wouldn’t want to anger the fanbase and try to send Al Horford back to his first NBA home in Atlanta.

If the Boston Celtics share Tansey’s point of view on Horford no longer being the valuable veteran piece he was during the team’s run to the NBA Finals, perhaps then this idea could have legs. The Houdini thinks there are better moves out there–Nicolas Batum likely not included since it’s nearly a foregone conclusion he will stick with the Los Angeles–but regardless, having a starting lineup all locked into long-term deals and all on the right side of 30 does sound like sustainable success.

dark. Next. The definitive Celtics trade package for Kevin Durant