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San Antonio Spurs Reportedly Take A Chance In Signing Oft-Injured Zach Collins

By News Creatives Authors , in Business , at August 6, 2021

Risk-taking has not been in the San Antonio Spurs’ DNA. Continuously making the playoffs and winning championships will do that. They are now two years away from the postseason, though, and the roster is in a state of flux. Most of the longstanding veterans are gone, and the youth is finally taking over, which although necessary, is a hit-or-miss proposition. The team doubled down on it in the draft, picking Josh Primo, the youngest player of the 2021 class. While bold, the bigger risk was reportedly signing Zach Collins.

Per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Spurs and Collins agreed to a three-year, $22 million contract. Collins spent the past four years with the Portland Trail Blazers after being selected 10th overall in the 2017 NBA Draft.

The talent has been undeniable for the Gonzaga product. He stands 6-foot-11, has respectable athleticism, the ability to stretch the floor and a career 8.6 rebounds per 36 minutes. The Blazers had frontcourt depth when Collins was around, so he never had a prominent role, but if he was ever able to stay healthy, his tenure in the northwest could have been smoother.

Collins only appeared in 11 games the past two seasons due to a variety of injuries. The 2020-21 season was dominated by stress fractures in his left foot, undergoing a second surgery as recently as the end of June. His recovery timetable is 4-6 months, potentially leaving him out to start the season and into December, the latest this period permits. Other ailments the past few years have included those to the shoulder and ankle.

Despite the flashes of promise, the Blazers did not extend a qualifying offer to Collins this summer, leaving him an unrestricted free agent for the Spurs to sign. The qualifying offer would have been $7 million, and given the new deal he reportedly signed, the average annual value is $7.3 million, so roughly the same, but the length of the commitment offers stability barring other unannounced contractual terms. That’s terrific for Collins.

For San Antonio, it’s not the move they usually make. They hand out multi-year contracts to free agents, but rarely to someone with this kind of boom-or-bust potential, especially at a position of dire need that relies on Jakob Poeltl and company. Collins will turn just 24 years old weeks into the 2021-22 season and has everything to prove, but given the current roster construction, he will be relied on in some fashion to produce immediately whenever healthy.

The positive outcome is Collins maintaining some level of health that lets him play 75 percent of the season, which seems like a tall task, but he did play in over 65 games in each of his first two years. He backs up Poeltl in this time and takes up to 20 minutes per game off the bench. Anything more, for as cautious of a team with youth as the Spurs have been, would be a surprise. Easing the big man into action off two surgeries, maybe for as long as the entire 2021-22 season, would not be a surprise.

The ultimate best-case scenario is Collins living up to his potential and becoming a full-time starter, putting the injuries behind. On an affordable contract for a team without proven options up front, it gives the Spurs a talented starting player while using other salary funds on extending their wealth of young guards. Easier said than done, of course.

Injury recovery, the trend, kicking off the Collins campaign is not ideal, but the Spurs agreed to sign him after that news went public. If Thaddeus Young sticks around from the reported DeMar DeRozan sign-and-trade, perhaps the frontcourt insurance is already there to open the season. So while the risk is there for the next three years, this was a deal the Spurs almost had to do for the possible reward.


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