As the Portland Trail Blazers took the court on Saturday ahead of Game 4 vs. the Denver Nuggets, forward Zach Collins was seen getting shots in.
Two hours before tip-off, the Blazers big man, who has yet to play a game this season, took the floor with a few of his teammates including Nassir Little.
NBC Sports Northwest’s Jamie Hudson captured the fourth-year forward in action.
Collins had offseason surgery to repair a hairline medial malleolus stress fracture of his left ankle and was projected to return to the team in early 2021, but a setback in rehab led to a second surgery and a longer timeline to return to the court.
However, when talking with The Athletic in mid-April, Collins shared an update on his progress, saying that if he did return this season, it would be during the playoffs.
“The only way I could come back is if we are in the playoffs,” Collins told The Athletic. “That’s just how my timeline has worked out. When we (had a second surgery) it was a four-to-six month thing, and we all knew it was going to be closer to six months for me.”
He added he wants, "to come back this season, and [he's] not counting it out,” but that he will not put himself under intense pressure to rush back onto the floor. Collins, an impending restricted free agent, wants to heal his surgically repaired left ankle to 100%.
League sources tell NBCSNW that Collins continues to be very cautious in his rehabilitation.
Given the six-month timeline, Collins could return to the Blazers as soon as the second round, but that depends on Portland’s success in handling Denver. Currently, the Trail Blazers are down 2-1 to the Nuggets in the first-round series, but Portland has an opportunity to even the series on Saturday.
Tip-off for Game 4 is at 1:00 p.m. on NBCSNW, the official network of the Portland Trail Blazers.