In early August, the San Antonio Spurs took a gamble when they signed 6-11 forward/center Zach Collins to a three-year, $22 million contract. The signing came after an unfortunate string of injuries to the now 23-year-old, who's played in 11 total games since the 2019-20 NBA season.
A shoulder injury was the first culprit in the history of injuries for Collins, who missed 63 games for the Portland Trail Blazers but was able to return for all eight of their Orlando bubble games. Unfortunately, he soon suffered an ankle injury that required surgery. A few months later, another setback with that ankle required a second surgery, causing him to miss the entirety of last season.
Now, Collins looks to have a total reset in a new town, hoping the worst is behind him.
"We could not be more confident we got it right this time and it will be healed," his agent Mark Bartelstein said in a July 2021 piece from The Athletic (subscription required). While Gregg Popovich will certainly be patient with easing Collins back into full-contact basketball, some online evidence points to Collins already looking fairly healthy on the court.
Ok, so while Collins was present for the Spurs' Austin party, I mostly shared that to let you see a drunk Jakob Poeltl. Although, Collins was noticeably not wearing any kind of ankle brace in Instagram stories later shared by Lonnie Walker.
The better evidence of Collins' improved health game from Twitter user Raul Dominguez Jr:
While it's yet to be seen when Collins will be back on the hardwood, the fact that he's not showing any signs of discomfort is good news. Still, according to Paul Garcia of Project Spurs, Coach Popovich said at training camp that the last timetable he heard for a return by Collins was after Christmas.
When healthy in 2018-19, Collins proved to be a switchable big capable of knocking down the occasional three and battling down low on the glass. With the power forward and backup center positions being wide-open heading into the 2022 season, he'd be a strong candidate for either role.
Whenever his return may be, one thing is for sure, he's ready to leave the past in the past. "It's going to be a great story when I come back healthy," Collins told The Athletic. Here's to hoping he's right.