Before signing with the San Antonio Spurs this offseason, Zach Collins found himself on the injured list again.
On June 29, 2021, Shams Charania of the Athletic reported Collins had re-fractured his foot and no timeline for his return was known.
According to the Spurs, Collins is out with stress fracture surgery on his left ankle.
Saturday at training camp, Spurs Head Coach Gregg Popovich gave the first hint of when Collins might return to the court, with that timeframe being in late December.
“Last I heard was after Christmas,” said Popovich, “And I’m not sure after that, what that means.”
Collins has dealt with injuries for the majority of his early career after being drafted 10th overall in the first round in 2017.
He played in 66 games during his rookie season, 77 games in his second season, just 11 in the 2019-20 season when the league had to shorten the season due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and he missed all of last season due to injury.
The Spurs seeing Collins on the court at some point this season makes sense when you look back at the deal he got this offseason.
Collins signed a three year deal with this season being fully guaranteed at $7 million. In giving Collins a fully guaranteed year, San Antonio likely understood they’d be able to see how Collins recovered from the injury at some point this season.
Next season Collins will earn $7.4 million, with $3.7 million guaranteed. In the third year of his deal, he’ll earn $7.7 million, though it’s fully non-guaranteed.
By signing Collins to a three year deal that isn’t fully guaranteed, the Spurs will get a chance to see if he can fully recover and develop alongside their young core, since Collins is still just 23.
Collins has played the four and five in his career, with his ability to play inside and outside, by stretching out the defense and taking over one three point attempt per game.