Zach Collins is focused on what he can control with rehab as free agency looms

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Jamie Hudson
·4 min read
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Zach Collins is focused on what he can control with rehab as free agency looms originally appeared on NBC Sports Northwest

Entering his fourth season in the league, Portland Trail Blazers big man Zach Collins was set to make his return mid-January following surgery on his left ankle.

That first surgery was performed on Sept. 1. 

But then after a setback, his second ankle surgery which the Blazers called a revision surgery, was scheduled for Dec. 30.

Now, just over a month out, Collins says there's no timeline on his return, but he expects the rehab process to take four to six months. That could mean Collins may be back at the very end of the season or ready to go for playoffs. 

But will Collins be in a Trail Blazers uniform next year?

It was back on Dec. 19 when news came out that the Blazers did not offer a contract extension to the 7-footer. 

The news wasn't shocking, though. President of Basketball Operations Neil Olshey has only ever extended Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum off of their rookie deals throughout his tenure with the Trail Blazers. 

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After spending the first month recovering at his home in Las Vegas, Collins returned to Portland this week to begin the rehab process with the Blazers' medical staff, while still thinking about how he will become a free agent this offseason.  

His contract situation has weighed on his mind as it would any player who has yet to really prove themself. 

We’ll see how everything goes. It’s definitely something you have to think about. It’s your livelihood. So it’s definitely in the back of my mind.

Trail Blazers big man Zach Collins

“A part of me thinks it’s not really something that I can control. The only thing I can control -- is the work I put in and my mindset every day, how I treat people and how I go about this rehab, that’s all I can do and everything else will take care of itself.”

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In 154 career games over four seasons, Collins holds averages of 5.7 points and 4.0 rebounds.

But he’s leaning on his body of work that the Blazers have seen in practice over the past few years along with who he is as a person on whether or not the Blazers will extend a $7.4M qualifying offer this summer.

If they do, Collins will become a restricted free agent and the Blazers will have an opportunity to match any deal other teams may offer to Collins. 

So, there's some uncertainty. 

It is what it is. They’ve got to go based on what I’ve done for this team and what I’ve done in the league up to this point, what more work ethic is, what kind of person I am, that’s what I have to hang my hat on.

Zach Collins

How and when Collins will come back are also a couple of factors he mentioned could be taken into account when free agency rolls around.

The Trail Blazers and Collins remain in lock-step, though. All decisions leading up to Collins' surgery were made collectively and there seems to be mutual interest in continuing their professional relationship with each other.  

Portland traded the 15th and 20th overall picks to the Sacramento Kings back in the 2017 draft in order to move up to select the Gonzaga product Collins at No. 10.

In 11 games played last season, three to start the year and eight in the Orlando Bubble, Collins averaged 7.0 points and 6.3 rebounds in 26.4 minutes of action.  

But as Collins focuses on his rehab, he also can’t help but think about the Blazers organization as a team enduring so many injuries as of late.

“It seems like that’s been the story of the Blazers the last couple of years. We’ve had to fight through adversity… It’s going to make us stronger."

I think when those guys come back it’s going to be huge.

Zach Collins

The 23-year-old also believes that once the team is healthy that things will “come together at the right time.”