Zach Collins

Here's what I think the Trail Blazers are going to do -- and I support it

Here's what I think the Trail Blazers are going to do -- and I support it

In the wake of Monday night’s nasty home loss in Moda Center to the Oklahoma City Thunder and the season-ending injury to Rodney Hood, a lot of people seem to think the Portland Trail Blazers need to make a move. A trade, a free-agent signing – SOMETHING. But here’s what I think they will do:

Nothing.

And I think that’s the right course of action, too.

This team has been ripped apart by injuries. Last season’s No. 1 offensive rebounding team in the NBA, the Trail Blazers are now last in the league in that department. From first to worst in a few months. And why not? This team opened the season with thoughts of eventually having five seven-footers on its roster.

There was Hassan Whiteside, Zach Collins, Skal Labissiere, Jusuf Nurkic and Pau Gasol. But Gasol never made it to the active roster and retired. Collins was sidelined with shoulder surgery and Nurkic still hasn’t made it back from his broken leg. Labissiere, who wasn’t even expected to play much this season, has become the backup center.

And the Trail Blazers have taken a big step back on the boards and in physicality. Offensive rebounding is critical to this team, because it’s often the only avenue for easy baskets. Portland doesn’t get a lot of fast-break baskets and now, without its big men, isn’t getting to the foul line enough,

Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum are having to carry a big load.

When Collins went down, Neil Olshey, the team’s president of basketball operations, went out and got Carmelo Anthony – a nice addition. Anthony was a player with a presence and the team didn’t have to give up anything to get him.

The Trail Blazers had championship aspirations this season, but it’s becoming increasingly obvious those dreams won’t be realized this season without the big men.

This franchise would be stupid to sacrifice any of its future to obtain a role player just to attempt to improve its position this season.

With Nurkic, Collins and Hood back in the fold next season, the Trail Blazers would be smart to keep their vision long range – next season should be a nice reset.

In the meantime, there is still a chance that a major trade could be made that would make sense for the future.

Hassan Whiteside’s expiring contract has always been expected to be a trade piece at some point. Names such as LaMarcus Aldridge, Blake Griffin and Kevin Love have been mentioned and they would be difference-makers. But much more so next year than this, in all likelihood.

In regard to deals, it’s important to remember that NBA free agents cannot be traded for three months after they signed, or until after Dec. 15, whichever is later. And this season’s trade deadline is Feb. 6 and there is often a flurry of activity in the days leading up to the deadline as teams come to the realization that they probably won’t make the playoffs.

But Portland is not in a great space to make a deal with the Whiteside contract. The free-agent crop this summer is a weak one, with many of the top players expected to re-sign with their old teams. That would mean some teams would be reluctant to deal for a player who would provide cap space when there is not much to spend it on.

And there is a perception, too, that the Trail Blazers are desperate and other teams would want to squeeze more out of Portland in any deals.

So this is another situation when patience will be required. If the team doesn’t play any better than it did Sunday night against the Thunder, what would be the use of adding some marginal free agent who is sitting at home on his couch right now?

I would expect Nurkic to be back at some point this season, at least on a limited basis. Collins, I would assume, is more doubtful.

Better to allow the team’s younger players to grab that playing time, getting them ready for a bench role next season.

How will Carmelo Anthony sticking with Blazers impact the team when everyone is healthy?

How will Carmelo Anthony sticking with Blazers impact the team when everyone is healthy?

This week, the Trail Blazers made up their mind and fully guaranteed Carmelo Anthony's contract for the remainder of the season.

Trail Blazers President of Basketball Operations Neil Olshey told NBCSNW's Diwght Jaynes signing Melo for the rest of the season was “a no brainer.”

Between Melo’s production on the court and his presence in the locker room, amending the contract in advance of the Jan. 7th guarantee date was a no-brainer. This is the kind of gesture we want players to become accustomed to when they buy into and contribute to our culture.  -- Neil Olshey

Knowing Melo isn’t going anywhere also means Melo isn’t going to be forced out of the starting lineup once the Trail Blazers get Zach Collins back.

Starting was a prerequiste to Melo joining the Blazers in the first place.

Collins isn’t expected to be re-evaluated until March after he underwent successful surgery to repair his left labrum last month. 

The 7-footer said on Wednesday of this week that he “is progressing” and he’s happy to not have to wear his sling anymore.

Even though Collins played in just three games this season for the Blazers where he started at power forward, he made his bread and butter as a consistent, go-to, energy off the bench type of player.

People remember Collins was a one-and-done player at Gonzaga. But, some don’t remember he came off the bench for Mark Few.

Sure, Collins would like to be inserted back into the starting lineup when he’s healthy enough, but not only because of Melo will Collins be coming off the bench, but it’s smart to do so, too.

If and when Collins comes back this season, he is going to undoubtedly be working through a minutes restriction to work himself back in.

Plus, looking at this season the Blazers’ bench could use a spark and yes, Collins is known for his defensive prowess, but this is a kid who can stretch the floor and bring some much needed scoring when called upon. And that's what Portland’s second unit could use this season.

A lot of the talk around Rip City has been -- just make it to March when Collins and Jusuf Nurkic are back on the court.

Here’s the thing: There’s no guarantee Collins or Nurkic will be back on the court in March. Things are point that way. The only guarantee right now is Melo will remain in Portland. 

Neil Olshey: Amending Melo's contract early was a 'no brainer'

Neil Olshey: Amending Melo's contract early was a 'no brainer'

A full month early, the Trail Blazers stepped up Thursday and guaranteed Carmelo Anthony’s contract for the rest of this season. Under the terms of the deal he had signed with Portland, the team had until Jan. 7 to make that decision.

But making the call early was the right move. Melo has been all the Trail Blazers could have asked for – and more.

“Between Melo’s production on the court and his presence in the locker room, amending the contract in advance of the Jan. 7th guarantee date was a no-brainer,” said Neil Olshey, the team’s president of basketball operations. “This is the kind of gesture we want players to become accustomed to when they buy into and contribute to our culture.”

In eight games for Portland, he has averaged 16.9 points, 5.9 rebounds and 1.8 assists while shooting 44.8 percent from the field and 38.7 percent from three-point range.

In his last five, though, it’s been even better than that as he’s become more acclimated to his new teammates and their system.

In that span, Anthony has shot .514 overall from the field and .467 from three-point range. And he’s scored at a 19.2 points-per-game rate with an average 11.4 plus-minus. He’s also shot .938 from the foul line and grabbed 6.8 rebounds per contest.

Guaranteeing the contract early shows good faith in his continued solid play and takes pressure off both sides. And, as Olshey pointed out, it continues Portland's commitment to making this known as a player-friendly franchise.

It also takes away any doubt about the team’s makeup and commitment to the rest of the season.

There is some chance that power forward Zach Collins could return to action prior to the end of the season from his shoulder surgery but keeping Anthony also takes away any pressure to rush Collins back. In fact, if Collins does return, it would now be more possible to ease him back on a minutes restriction while he plays off the bench behind Anthony.

It has been reported that Anthony's contract is for the veteran’s minimum of $2.16 million.

Zach Collins happy to not be wearing a sling anymore, his 'timeline is progressing'

Zach Collins happy to not be wearing a sling anymore, his 'timeline is progressing'

Thursday marks exactly one month since Trail Blazers center Zach Collins underwent successful surgery to repair his left labrum.

On Wednesday night, as Collins made his way through the bowels of Moda Center before the Blazers and Kings tipped off, there was something different about him.

For the first time in public, Collins was not wearing a sling around his left shoulder.

After the game, the 7-footer gave an update on how his shoulder is feeling and how his rehabilitation is coming along.

It’s a lot more convenient, and way more comfortable not walking around with a sling all the time. I’m very happy.

--Trail Blazers big man Zach Collins

“The timeline is moving along and it’s progressing,” Collins added.

The shoulder injury occurred when Collins dislocated his left shoulder late in the third quarter during Portland's game at Dallas back on October 27th.

Through the first three games of the season, Collins averaged 9.0 points, 4.0 rebounds and 2.0 assists as the Blazers starting power forward.

Collins says he has been able to get a lot better sleep now that the pain has subsided.  

“Two or three days out of surgery, sleeping was hard, that’s just because it was so painful. Honestly, the sling didn’t bother me that much sleeping with it after that when the pain stopped."

Collins described how the front of his shoulder had been in the most pain immediately following surgery. But now, it's rare for him to feel any physical discomfort.

I’m never really in any pain unless I’m doing rehab. Even then, if it’s painful we’re not pushing it too hard yet. I’m not really in any pain anymore.

Collins also explained what he's been doing during his physical therapy:

“Range of motion, a little bit of resistance work… Like if they’re pushing on my arm this way, I’ve got to push the other way. Little things like that, and then just working on my legs and my right arm.”

The current timetable is that Collins will be re-evaluated in March. 

But with one month down, and three to go, Collins is going to continue to focus on rehab.  He's also going to continue to improve his wardrobe.  The big man admitted he had to purchase more suits in order to follow the NBA's formal dress code when sitting on the Blazers' bench during home games. 

What's wrong with the Trail Blazers? Here are a couple of answers

What's wrong with the Trail Blazers? Here are a couple of answers

The question being asked today – and it’s a legitimate one – is “What the heck is going on with the Portland Trail Blazers?” And then… “Are they as bad as they look?”

I will attempt to answer the first question while answering with an affirmative “No” to the second question.

First, let’s remind you of the obvious: three of Portland’s top four best bigs are injured. The injury to Zach Collins was a critical blow because Pau Gasol and Jusuf Nurkic were – and still are – on the injured list. The Blazers do not have the inside game, at either end of the court, that they expected to have at some point this season.

Let's be real, Skal Labissiere and Nassir Litttle, critical rotation players right now, were not expected to have those roles at the start of the season.

Plus, Damian Lillard, Anfernee Simons, Hassan Whiteside and Rodney Hood have all been playing in spite of nagging injuries. After many games the Portland locker room features enough ice to fill one of those ice-bag coolers at your neighborhood convenience store.

But the other mitigating factor has been the schedule, which has been brutal. After 15 games, the Trail Blazers have played twice as many road games as home games and no other team in the league has had 10 road games already. Only two other teams have played five more road games than home games. And Portland has already played two back-to-backs.

And it isn’t over yet. Most people already know that 13 of the team’s first 18 games are on the road.

But I’m here to tell you that it isn’t as bad as it looks.

Even with all the injuries and the worst schedule in the league, the Trail Blazers sit just three games out of the playoffs. And ahead of them, in the seventh and eighth spots in the Western Conference, are Phoenix and Minnesota – which I would categorize as “catchable.”

Are there things that need to be fixed? Of course. For one thing, people who have shot the ball well through their careers need to do that again. I believe there must be a little more discipline and ball movement on offense and better attention to halfcourt and transition defense. But those things have a way of working out with time – especially when the team gets some home games and more chances to practice.

It’s going to get better. And I think it’s reasonable to expect that.

Talkin’ Blazers Podcast: What does life without Zach Collins look like?

Talkin’ Blazers Podcast: What does life without Zach Collins look like?

This week former Trail Blazer and NBA Champ Channing Frye along with Emmy award-winning sports broadcaster Dan Sheldon sat down to talk about a number of different topics including, playing a three-guard lineup, what life is going to be like for the next four months without staring power forward Zach Collins, and much more on the latest episode of the Talkin’ Blazers Podcast. After having shoulder surgery earlier this week, Collins will now be evaluated in four months.  

Blazers head coach Terry Stotts has inserted Anthony Tolliver in at starting power forward.

But as Sheldon asks Frye, “is he the indefinite solution?”

“He can’t be,” Frye said. “That’s just not his role. Tolliver is a great change of pace forward center, shooter.”

Frye believes Portland just has to get through the next couple of months by leaning on their backcourt duo of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum.

And here is Frye’s advice for the team:

“You gotta just stay afloat. Stay around .500 and hope that CJ gets out of this little funk, Dame gets a chance to not play 40 minutes per night, and that [Hassan] Whiteside continues rebounding and playing at a high-level.”

The former Blazer forward believes at the moment Tolliver is going to have to fill the starting role.

“There’s no other option (in the short term),” Frye said. Stay afloat…stay afloat. Just get into the playoffs. At the end of the day, you’re going to have to win a road game in the playoffs… they’re a dangerous team.”

On the latest Talkin' Blazers Podcast, in addition to Life without Zach Collins, Channing and Dan discuss load management and if it should be applied to Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard, if PEDs are a big issue in the NBA, the three-guard lineup and make predictions for the upcoming Blazers schedule. Plus, Channing explains to Dan how he plays Overwatch while watching basketball.

Listen to the full Talkin' Blazers podcast below:

Zach Collins undergoes successful shoulder surgery

Zach Collins undergoes successful shoulder surgery

Portland Trail Blazers forward Zach Collins underwent successful surgery today to repair his left labrum, Neil Olshey, Trail president of basketball operations announced.

The procedure was performed by Dr. Evan Ellis at PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center in Vancouver, Washington.

Collins will begin a treatment and rehabilitation process and will be re-evaluated in approximately four months.

Collins left the game against the Mavericks last week after he injured his left shoulder. 

With 2:01 left in the third quarter, Collins went up for a rebound. All things looked normal until he made contact with Luka Doncic. Collins came down and instantly put his right hand over his left shoulder. 

The Blazers will now move forward with life without Collins and an already depleted front court. 

MORE ON COLLINS

Brotherly advice: Meyers Leonard offers encouragement to Zach Collins
Zach Collins needs labral repair in left shoulder

Brotherly advice: Meyers Leonard offers encouragement to Zach Collins

Brotherly advice: Meyers Leonard offers encouragement to Zach Collins

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!”

Breaking News: League Sources indicate Zach Collins needs labral repair in left shoulder

Breaking News: League Sources indicate Zach Collins needs labral repair in left shoulder

League sources have confirmed to NBC Sports that Trail Blazer big man Zach Collins, who is supposed to undergo surgery for a shoulder injury, specifically needs labral repair in his left shoulder.

Surgery is often preferred to decrease the chances of reoccurrence as compared to natural healing. 

While no target return date has been set by the team, it will be months, not weeks, until Collins is back in action. A return in time for the playoffs would be a possibility. 

Collins left the game against the Mavericks last week after he injured his left shoulder. 

With 2:01 left in the third quarter, Collins went up for a rebound. All things looked normal until he made contact with Luka Doncic. Collins came down and instantly put his right hand over his left shoulder. 

Then on November 2nd, the team announced that Collins would have surgery:

Portland Trail Blazers forward Zach Collins will undergo surgery to repair his injured left shoulder, it was announced today by president of basketball operations Neil Olshey. A date for the procedure is to be determined. 

Now the team must move forward in a life without Collins and a depleted frontcourt as Jusuf Nurkic and Pau Gasol continue their rehab process as well. 

Stay tuned for as more information becomes available. 

Peter Socotch, NBC Sports Producer, also contributed to this report

How to watch, stream Trail Blazers at Warriors tonight at 7:30pm

How to watch, stream Trail Blazers at Warriors tonight at 7:30pm

The Trail Blazers (3-3) are back on the road. Portland visits the injury-riddled Golden State Warriors (1-5) on Monday night with tip-off slated for 7:30pm PT. The Blazers have been dealing with their own injuries.

Shortly before Saturday’s game started the team announced big man Zach Collins is set to have surgery on his dislocated left shoulder, and while there isn’t a firm timeline on how long he will be, it’s likely his recovered will be measured in months not weeks.

Now the Blazers are trying to figure out how to come together as a team without Collins.

The good news for Monday’s contest, the Blazers have listed Rodney Hood (left quad contusion) and Hassan Whiteside (left knee bone bruise) as probable.

As for Golden State, the Warriors have listed D’Angelo Russell (right ankle) as questionable, while Steph Curry (left hand fracture), Jacob Evans (left adductor), Draymond Green (left index finger), Kevon Looney (neuropathy), Alen Smailagic (right ankle) & Klay Thompson (left ACL rehab) are out for Monday’s game.

You can watch the Blazers-Warriors game on NBC Sports Northwest, the Official Network of the Portland Trail Blazers and you can stream the game on our website or by downloading the MyTeams app!

And, have you heard about Blazers Pass? Tonight's Warriors game is the first game of the "Blazers Pass Season!"

You can get 15 live Trail Blazers games, pre and postgame shows, and on-demand full-game replays with Blazers Pass! (Only available to fans located in Blazers Territory, pursuant to NBA rules and agreements. No TV provider required. Subscription Period: November 4, 2019 - April 16, 2020. Subscription auto-renews prior to start of next season.)

Don't miss any of the coverage of tonight's game:

3:30pm Blazers Game Day with Chad Doing

6:30pm Blazers Warm-Up

7:00pm Trail Blazers Pregame Show

7:30pm Trail Blazers vs. Warriors

After the game catch Blazers Outsiders with hosts Joe Simons and Dan Marang!

Plus, full coverage of the game from Dwight JaynesJamie Hudson and our digital team. Follow us on social throughout the night for the latest updates. 

Quote of the Day

“We just feel really confident that no matter who’s set in front of us, even without a lot of our bigs right now, we feel like we can go compete and win games.” – Antony Tolliver on how the Blazers are dealing with so many injured teammates