Collins, 23, is 6-foot-9 and averaged 17.6 points and 7.4 rebounds in 63 regular-season games. He was a major part of Atlanta’s run to the Eastern Conference finals.
While the Hawks’ decision was a mere formality, Collins’ qualifying offer is worth about $7.7 million. He is unlikely to accept the offer in search of a considerably more lucrative deal.
Collins is widely expected to return to the Hawks, who will be able to match any offer he receives from an opposing team. He reportedly turned down a four-year offer worth $90 million from the Hawks last offseason, and could receive a larger offer than that this summer.
Atlanta supposedly does not want to give Collins a max contract, but doesn’t want to let him walk for nothing, either. In other words, a large opposing offer could force the Hawks to pay more than they’d like to keep him.
The Mavericks, Heat, Spurs and Timberwolves are among those expected to pursue Collins, Charania reported.
Hawks owner Tony Ressler recently addressed Collins’ contract situation.
“Our job is to come to a fair agreement with John. That’s our objective. There should be no question,” Ressler told reporters. “He’s a really good player and maybe more importantly, a really good person. So the idea of having both is important to this franchise. That’s my view. The idea of being smart for both of us, to come to a reasonable place, that’s the objective, and there should be no confusion.
“I think as (general manager) Travis (Schlenk) said, which I think is amazing, a lot of players that don’t agree to a contract going into this season, play in a certain way. John played as an amazing teammate trying to win games and doing whatever he could do to win games. John’s a really good guy and a really good teammate. I hope he is an Atlanta Hawk.”
The free agency period begins Aug. 2.