Portland Trail Blazers

Brotherly advice: Meyers Leonard offers encouragement to Zach Collins

Portland Trail Blazers

The news on Trail Blazers starting power forward Zach Collins took another turn Monday. After NBC Sports Northwest’s Dwight Jaynes reported the focus of Collins’ surgery to his left shoulder would be on labral repair, a timetable for his return would be measured in months, not weeks. 

To better understand Collins’ injury, we turned to a former Blazer with a history of shoulder injuries: Meyers Leonard. 

Leonard, who spent seven seasons in Portland and has started all six games for the Miami Heat this season, is no stranger to shoulder injuries.   

Throughout his career, the former Blazers big man has had three subluxations, which are also known as partial dislocations and two complete dislocations. The posterior capsule in his left shoulder was “destroyed,” as well. Over years of injuring and re-injuring his shoulder, Meyers opted for surgery in April 2016. He was able to return to the court for the 2016 preseason, roughly six months after surgery. 

Surgery was not welcomed news to Collins and the Trail Blazers. While he could sit out and rehab it naturally, the timetable to return would be 8-16 weeks. However, chances of injuring it again would be high. 

And while a six month timetable for return like Leonard faced may sound scary and daunting, it’s important to understand the injury to Collins and the injuries Leonard faced are not the same. 


“He will heal much faster than I did,” said Leonard, optimistically. 

Of course, the nature of the injury will not be fully known until the surgery itself takes place and the timetable for return will be set after the surgery is completed. His road to recovery will take time and everyone (fans, teammates, Zach) will have to be patient. This is the first major shoulder injury Collins has faced, and it happened to his non-dominant shoulder.

“I’m happy for him that he’s getting it taken care of now vs. waiting,” Leonard said. “[It’s a] much safer and easier surgery.”

Multiple sources told NBCSNW a return in time for the playoffs would also be a possibility. 

The Trail Blazers will miss Collins’ defensive presence. Portland lost to Steph-less, Klay-less, Draymond-less Golden State Warriors Monday night, in what Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum refer to as a “wake-up call.”

And while Collins and Leonard may not be teammates anymore, the two remain close. 

“Zach is like a brother to me,” Leonard said. “I’m incredibly proud of everything he’s done and he has a very bright future in this league. He’s tough, he works hard and he wants to win. I know that Zach will be laser focused during his rehab and recovery and will come back stronger than ever." 

"Prayers up for my brother! Stay strong!”