San Antonio Spurs forward Zach Collins is getting closer to his return from his left ankle stress fracture, with the Spurs listing Collins as out for Monday’s game against Phoenix and on G-League assignment with the Austin Spurs.
Collins hasn’t played in a game this season, and he had to miss the entire season last year with Portland due to injury.
His last season playing in an NBA game was during the 2019-20 season, where he played in 11 games before getting hurt. His last game was August 13, 2020.
Collins was signed to a three year deal this past summer for around $22 million. His injury concerns were likely why the second and third years of the deal weren’t fully guaranteed.
Austin has four games coming up this week Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday. The Spurs announced Sunday Collins would play in Austin’s home game Monday against the Rio Grande Valley Vipers.
With Collins making the first steps of returning to the court in mid-January, this tracks with the updates Spurs Head Coach Gregg Popovich has provided this season.
Early on, Popovich said Collins would likely be back sometime after Christmas. In late December, he said, “I’m just guessing January, February as his timeframe.”
From late December to mid January the Spurs have struggled with multiple players going into health and safety protocols at different or some times the same time.
The team is now almost fully healthy with just backup point guard Tre Jones left in health and safety protocols.
Once Collins is fully ready to join the San Antonio team, it’ll be interesting to see where his minutes come from. When healthy, the Spurs have a rotation of:
Starters: Dejounte Murray, Derrick White, Keldon Johnson, Doug McDermott, Jakob Poeltl
Second unit: Jones, Lonnie Walker IV, Devin Vassell, Jock Landale
Bryn Forbes and Keita Bates-Diop have also been in the rotation at different times as well.
With the Spurs usually using lineups of 4 wings/guards and one big, Poeltl and Landale have been getting all the minutes at the 5.
If the Spurs don’t want to take away center minutes from Poeltl and Landale, they may want to give Collins some minutes at the 4 once he’s healthy. There could be some minutes off the bench if he takes some of the minutes Bates-Diop has been getting.