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Can OKC Thunder get a shot at Utah Jazz Forward?

If there was one area that caused the Oklahoma City Thunder the most pain last season, it was rebounding.

Due to the nature of a smaller, athletic and fast young group, rebounding became more of an afterthought compared to most other teams in the NBA for Oklahoma City. It didn’t really matter in the regular season — it did get the No. 1 seed in the West, after all — but it eventually came back to bite in the playoffs.

Chet Holmgren lacked any real rebounding help next to him, and with his lanky frame and ability to play outside the paint, relying on him was too much of a burden. The Thunder could solve the problem by adding a power forward with rebounding capabilities, and it just so happens that the Utah Jazz potentially have one up for grabs.

Well, maybe not the first player you think of.

As appealing as the idea of ​​Lauri Markkanen in Oklahoma City is, there’s no suggestion that Utah has any interest in moving on from the former All-Star. It wants to build around him for his future, so it would require a high asking price so the Thunder might not want to pull the trigger at this point.

That leaves John Collins as the next option, and by far the most realistic. The 26-year-old spent the majority of his seven-year career with the Atlanta Hawks, but toward the end of his tenure, his production began to trend downward. His trade to the Jazz provided much-needed change last season, resulting in improved play.

Collins finished with respectable averages of 15.1 points and 8.5 rebounds in 28 minutes per game on 53/37/79.5% shooting splits, which is valuable production for any team. At 6-foot-1 with high athleticism, he is a skilled rebounder who could help Holmgren dramatically in that area. His defensive issues could be well hidden with an elite Oklahoma City defense, and offensively he would be another big man with floor spacing skills who would fit quite well into the dynamic system it runs.

The biggest problem in trading for Collins is his hefty contract, which is still owed just over $26 million over the next two years. It’s a lot of money to take on for the value he brings, not to mention the future flexibility the Thunder will need to retain its core talent. While he may be able to help some issues, those issues can be found at a cheaper level.

On the other hand, the actual trade package itself wouldn’t be a high asking price at all. Utah is trying to get Collins’ salary off the books, so it would settle for a smaller return that might not even fully reflect his value. A well-protected first-round pick and possibly someone like Kenrich Williams could come close to a done deal, which could be enticing.

Collins is by no means a required addition, there are certainly some glaring issues he would bring even with the utility upside. However, it’s still worth a look depending on what else Oklahoma City can make happen this offseason.

He may not be a Markkanen, but Collins isn’t a bad secondary option to have in your back pocket.

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