The San Antonio Spurs may want to consider bidding for Zach Collins in restricted free agency this summer
Now that the offseason is fully underway for the San Antonio Spurs, fans are beginning to look forward to the NBA Draft this coming July along with possible free-agent targets to pursue this summer.
The Spurs in particular are one of few teams in the NBA that could potentially have well over $40 million in cap space, possibly approaching $50 million depending on whether or not any veterans return. Unfortunately, with many of this offseason's most talented free agents already being taken off the market, the Spurs' options have become increasingly thin in recent months. Some of the most common names that I've seen associated with the Spurs recently are John Collins, Lauri Markkanen, Duncan Robinson, Tim Hardaway Jr., and Richaun Holmes, among a few others.
Call me pessimistic, but I have concerns about several of these players. While I believe John Collins to be by far the best option, I can envision Atlanta matching nearly any offer. Based on his performance this season, including in the playoffs, I expect that Tim Hardaway will get a big payday from someone that may not be worth it to the Spurs. While Lauri Markkanen and Duncan Robinson could provide some much-needed floor spacing, I have concerns about their defensive abilities.
In light of recent events, I'm going to throw out a name that I've yet to hear much about around Spurs communities: Zach Collins.
This past Thursday, the Portland Trailblazers saw yet another first-round exit in the playoffs after a Game 6 loss to the Denver Nuggets, now marking their fourth first-round exit in the past five years. Trailblazers fans are clearly frustrated, their players are frustrated, and many believe that Terry Stotts has now coached his last game with the team.
While nobody seems to be quite sure yet what the near future holds for the Trailblazers, it's a very likely bet that big changes are on the horizon for the team. One of those uncertainties revolves around whether or not the Trailblazers will pursue an extension with Zach Collins, who sat the large majority of the 2020 season due to shoulder surgery and who also sat out the entire 2021 season due to two ankle surgeries following a stress fracture suffered in the NBA bubble.
If the Spurs find themselves unlucky in the free-agent market, Zach Collins could potentially be a low-risk, high-reward player to go after. Prior to his injury, the 6'11" center/power forward was selected tenth overall in the 2017 draft with his main draws being his defensive versatility and mobility. He also shot a respectable 75% from the free-throw line and knocked down 33% of his threes in his last full season with Portland. On top of all this, he's only 23 years old.
Being that Damian Lillard is now 30 years old, the Trailblazers are likely now in damage-control mode after another disappointing playoff exit. They will also likely still be in 'win now' mode for the foreseeable future while Lillard is still around his prime, meaning that they may want to save their money for any potential deals or free agent signings that will help them to win quickly. In other words, they may not want to risk extending a seemingly injury-prone Zach Collins, even if he has growth potential.
The Spurs, on the other hand, do not have nearly as much to lose in the near future. While it would surely be a risky move by the Spurs, despite his injuries, Collins seemed to be developing well under Portland and he's still a year younger than Lauri Markkanen. If the Spurs are able to steal him from the Trailblazers for a cheap price, the risk could be very worth the reward.