Zach Collins

Southwest Notes: Alvarado, Ingram, Kidd, Collins

Pelicans reserve point guard Jose Alvarado has evolved into an important contributor for New Orleans in his second season, writes Will Guillory of The Athletic in an extensive feature. Guillory notes that Alvarado provides the Pelicans with a burst of energy in his minutes off the bench, especially on defense.

“A lot of people told me that the sophomore year is a slump year for some guys,” Alvarado told Guillory in an interview. “I wanted people to say, ‘Oh, he improved. What else can he do?’ … Obviously, the GTAs and playing defense is who I am. I accept that. But I’m also a complete basketball player. I can be a great point guard. I’m a knockdown shooter. I think there are a lot of things I can do on the court to help this team.”

There’s more out of the Southwest Division:

  • Pelicans All-Star small forward Brandon Ingram is considered day-to-day with a left big toe contusion, per Andrew Lopez of ESPN (Twitter link). Lopez adds that imaging indicated the ailing digit had incurred no serious structural damage.
  • The 9-9 Mavericks have lost three straight games, but the team is striving to stay focused, writes Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News. Dallas is currently 1-6 in its road games, and will play an excellent Bucks club in Milwaukee on Sunday in the second game in a back-to-back set. The club has struggled mightily from long range. “We’re able to get into the paint,” head coach Jason Kidd noted. “We’re able to get to the rim and finish. But right now we’re just not shooting the ball straight.” 
  • Spurs reserve center Zach Collins was assessed a Flagrant 2 foul and ejected from Saturday’s 143-138 loss to the visiting Lakers after he hit L.A. point guard Russell Westbrook in the head while fighting for a rebound. Per Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News, the impact was not deliberate. “I shouldn’t have jumped on the pump fake, but I did,” Collins said. “And then the worst thing you can do is give up an and-one in that situation, so I was just trying to come down and hit his arm so the ball wouldn’t get up to the rim.”

Injury Updates: Tatum, Herro, Barnes, Langford, More

The Celtics will have star forward Jayson Tatum on the court for tonight’s showdown with the Mavericks, according to Souichi Terada of MassLive.

Tatum was listed as questionable after hurting his left ankle in Monday’s game at Chicago, but coach Joe Mazzulla told reporters that he’ll be able to play without any limitations. Tatum appeared to be moving normally during shootaround, Terada observes.

Tatum is among the early favorites in the MVP race, averaging 30.2 points, 7.6 rebounds and 4.6 assists while playing 37.2 minutes per game, the most in his career. He has led Boston to the best start in the league at 13-4.

There’s more injury-related news to pass along:

  • Tyler Herro will return for the Heat tonight after missing eight games with a sprained left ankle, the team announced (via Twitter). Max Strus was downgraded to out due to a shoulder injury, according to Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald (Twitter link).
  • Raptors forward Scottie Barnes will miss tonight’s game with a sprained left knee, tweets Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports. Fred VanVleet is sidelined with an illness, so Toronto is down to 10 available players.
  • Spurs guard Romeo Langford has been cleared to return tonight after missing five games while in the health and safety protocols. Josh Richardson will miss the game after suffering a sprained ankle in Tuesday’s practice (Twitter link), and Zach Collins has been downgraded from probable to out as he recovers from a non-displaced fracture of his fibula (Twitter link). Coach Gregg Popovich sounded optimistic when asked if Collins is close to returning. “Yes, I guess is the answer,” he replied. “He’s just not ready yet. We thought he might be, but he’s not.” Popovich also refused to provide any details about the illness that forced him to miss Sunday’s game, telling reporters, “I’m fine,” Orsborn tweets.
  • Dean Wade, who missed the past six games with knee soreness, will come off the Cavaliers‘ bench tonight and will be on a minutes restriction, according to Chris Fedor of (Twitter link).
  • Nets forward Yuta Watanabe will be sidelined through at least Friday with a hamstring issue, tweets Nick Friedell of ESPN. An MRI taken Tuesday night confirmed the injury (Twitter link), but Watanabe doesn’t seem concerned. “It’s not that serious,” he said. “… It’s day to day. We’ll see how long it takes.” (Twitter link)
  • Mavericks coach Jason Kidd is optimistic that Maxi Kleber, who’s dealing with a lower back contusion, will be available Saturday or Sunday, tweets Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News.

Western Notes: Leonard, George, Powell, Poeltl, Collins, Craig, Payne

The Clippers have been extremely cautious with Kawhi Leonard this season and he’ll miss another game on Wednesday, though it doesn’t involve his surgically repaired knee. Leonard is listed out due to a right ankle sprain, according to the team’s PR department. The 31-year-old has only played in five games this season.

The Clippers’ other star forward, Paul George, will miss his second consecutive game due to a right hamstring tendon strain.

We have more from the Western Conference:

  • Clippers coach Tyronn Lue is touting Norman Powell as a potential Sixth Man of the Year candidate, Janis Carr of the Orange County Register writes. Powell is averaging 16.2 points in the past 10 games, including a 30-point outing against Utah on Monday. “Like I said, Sixth Man of the Year, that should be his goal, and he has a great opportunity to do that, having 30 points on 15 shots off the bench,” Lue said. “Very efficient. And we need him to play well especially with guys being out and he’s stepping up, playing well for us.”
  • Jakob Poeltl is in his walk year and the Spurs big man knows he could be traded for assets this season, Mike Finger of the San Antonio Express-News reports. “I’m aware of the possibility, but it doesn’t affect my mindset during this season,” Poeltl said. “It’s a possibility at all times in the NBA. Sometimes there’s more trade rumors, sometimes there’s less.” Poeltl is averaging career highs in points (13.6), rebounds (9.8) and assists (3.6).
  • Another Spurs big man, Zach Collins, is likely to return after a nine-game absence. He’s listed as probable for Wednesday’s game against New Orleans, Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express-News tweets. He suffered a non-displaced fracture of his fibula earlier this month.
  • Torrey Craig and Cameron Payne have been thrust into the Suns’ starting lineup due to injuries to Cameron Johnson and Chris Paul, respectively, and they’ve been quite productive, Gerald Bourguet of notes. Craig is averaging 13.3 points, 7.3 rebounds and 2.3 assists in the last four games, while Payne is averaging 19.3 points, 6.1 assists and 3.4 rebounds through the last seven games. “We’re lucky to have the depth that we have,” Paul said.

Zach Collins Has Non-Displaced Leg Fracture

An MRI on Zach Collins‘ lower left leg has revealed a non-displaced fracture of his fibula, Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express News tweets.

The Spurs center is expected to be sidelined up to a month, according to McDonald. 

Collins logged 21 minutes on Friday against the Clippers when the injury occurred, and hasn’t played in San Antonio’s last two games. He has appeared in nine games off the bench this season, averaging 8.3 points, 4.7 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.2 blocks.

The Spurs guaranteed his $7.35MM salary for this season in June. He has a non-guaranteed $7.7MM salary next season, the third and final year of his contract.

Collins’ career, which began with Portland in 2017 as a lottery pick, has been marred by foot injuries. He was limited to just 39 games the last three seasons, though 28 of those came for the Spurs in the second half of ’21/22.

Spurs Notes: Wesley, Collins, Vassell, Primo

The Spurs‘ decision to waive Joshua Primo has created an opportunity for rookie guard Blake Wesley, writes Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express-News. Wesley made his NBA debut Friday night and posted 10 points and four assists in 15 minutes in a victory over the Bulls. He showed none of the shooting problems that plagued him in Summer League, hitting 4-of-6 from the field and 2-of-3 from three-point range.

“You got to stay ready,” said Wesley, who was taken with the 25th pick in this year’s draft. “I was just ready today.”

Wesley may be joining lottery pick Jeremy Sochan in San Antonio’s rotation, but McDonald notes that Malaki Branham, who was taken 20th overall, is still waiting to play in his first game.

There’s more on the Spurs:

  • With injury problems behind him, Zach Collins is off to a strong start, McDonald adds. The backup center had his best game of the season Friday, putting up 16 points and six rebounds in 18 minutes. He has reached double figures in scoring in three of the past five games. “Defense, passing and honestly shooting has been good all season,” Collins said. “(Friday) I took more shots and they went in. Hopefully, I keep this rolling.”
  • Devin Vassell will miss his third straight game Sunday against the Timberwolves because of pain in his right knee, tweets Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News. Coach Gregg Popovich told reporters Friday that there’s no timetable for Vassell to return. Josh Richardson is questionable for Sunday’s game because of lower back tightness.
  • Noting that Primo referred to a mental health issue in his statement on Friday night, Orsborn (Twitter link) points out that the Spurs hired a performance psychologist in September 2021. The psychologist was required under the NBA’s newly adopted mental health policy, and teams are also required to enlist a licensed psychiatrist when necessary, according to Orsborn.

Western Notes: Poole, George, Kawhi, Collins, Pelicans

If he was negatively affected by the leak of the video of teammate Draymond Green punching him in practice, Warriors guard Jordan Poole certainly didn’t show it on Sunday, as he poured in 25 points with six assists in just 23 minutes vs. the Lakers. According to head coach Steve Kerr, that performance illustrated why the team didn’t consider requiring Poole to take any time off following last Wednesday’s altercation.

“There’s a reason Jordan is who he is right now,” Kerr said, per Anthony Slater of The Athletic. “Especially considering where he was coming out of Michigan, a late first-round pick, struggling his first few months in the league. There’s a reason he’s in this position, about to sign a big extension, hopefully. He’s just tough. He’s mentally tough and physically tough and ultra confident in his game.”

After suggesting that Poole could be “about to sign a big extension,” Kerr later acknowledged that it remains to be seen whether the Warriors will work out a new deal with the 23-year-old in the next week. Still, it certainly sounds like a long-term extension is in play for Poole. If the two sides don’t reach an agreement by the October 17 deadline, the fourth-year guard will become a restricted free agent in 2023.

Here’s more from around the Western Conference:

  • With both stars healthy again, Clippers forward Paul George is happy to play second fiddle to former Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard on offense this season, writes Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN. “Everybody says, ‘Kawhi (and) you are 1 and 1, (or) 1A, 1B,'” George said. “I’ll publicly say, I’m the 2. Kawhi’s the 1, I’m the 2. So that part we nipped in the bud. Like there’s no ego when it comes to that.”
  • Spurs big man Zach Collins has entered the concussion protocol, tweets Michael C. Wright of Collins won’t travel to Utah for Tuesday’s game and his status for the Spurs’ preseason finale on Thursday vs. Oklahoma City is up in the air.
  • Even though John Hollinger of The Athletic thinks the Pelicans‘ decision to extend CJ McCollum “feels like a double-down on an iffy bet against Father Time,” he likes the team’s potential to take a major step forward in 2022/23. Hollinger projects a 48-34 record and a sixth-place finish in the West, writing that New Orleans could realistically get to 55 wins if Zion Williamson stays healthy and “everything clicks.”

Texas Notes: Wood, Crowder, Collins, Green

The Mavericks‘ plan to start JaVale McGee at center and utilize his fellow five Christian Wood off the bench may test the limits of the team culture second-year head coach Jason Kidd has been cultivating in Dallas, writes Callie Caplan of The Dallas Morning News. So far though, Wood appears willing to play whatever role is asked of him.

“I’m not really worried about who starts the game, more so who’s finishing the game,” Wood said on Monday, addressing a potential reserve role in Dallas. “If people were asking, ‘How would he feel coming off the bench?’ I’m not worried. It’s something that most likely will happen in talks with extensions and talks with free agency, but during the season, it’s not going to get me off my pivot.” 

Wood enjoyed a typically productive 2021/22 season on a lottery-bound Rockets team. He averaged 17.9 PPG, 10.1 RPG, 2.3 APG, 1.0 BPG and 0.8 SPG in 68 games. He also connected on 39% of a high-volume 4.9 three-point attempts.

Meanwhile, during Kidd’s first season as head coach last year, the Mavericks secured a 52-30 record and returned to the Western Conference Finals for the first time since 2011, when Kidd was the team’s starting point guard.

Ahead of the 2022 draft, Houston flipped Wood to the Mavericks. In return, the Rockets received several veteran role players, but the highlight of the deal was Dallas’ No. 26 first-round draft pick, which Houston then traded to the Timberwolves in exchange for the No. 29 pick and two future second-rounders.

There’s more out of the Lone Star State:

  • Though Suns power forward Jae Crowder appears to be headed for a divorce with Phoenix, the Mavericks are not interested in trading for the veteran stretch four, tweets John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 FM Phoenix. Crowder served as the starting power forward for consecutive Finals teams from 2020-21, first with the Heat and then for Phoenix. In 67 contests last season, the 6’6″ vet averaged 9.4 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 1.9 APG and 1.4 SPG, while connecting on 34.8% of his 5.4 triples a night and 78.9% of his 1.3 looks at the charity stripe.
  • Spurs power forward Zach Collins, kicking off a new NBA season healthy at last, is excited to show what he can do this year in San Antonio, per Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express-News (Twitter link). “I don’t think you guys have seen the best of me yet,” Collins said. “Definitely the best I’ve felt physically in my career.” The 6’11” big man missed most of the 2021/22 season while recovering from an ankle injury. In 28 games, he averaged 7.8 PPG and 5.5 RPG on .490/.341/.800 shooting splits.
  • Second-year Rockets shooting guard Jalen Green, the No. 2 pick in the 2021 draft out of the G League Ignite, is a devout workaholic, according to his trainer Mike HillKelly Iko of The Athletic spoke with Hill about how Green approached the second half of his rookie season and his preparations for 2022/23. Among other areas, the duo worked on improving Green’s strength, ball handling, and pick-and-roll abilities.

Spurs Guaranteeing Zach Collins’ 2022/23 Salary

The Spurs have decided to guarantee Zach Collins‘ salary for the 2022/23 season, agent Mark Bartelstein tells Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News (Twitter link).

Collins signed a three-year, $22MM deal with San Antonio last summer, but only the first year was fully guaranteed. His 2022/23 salary of $7.35MM was partially guaranteed for half that figure ($3.675MM). Keeping him under contract through today’s salary guarantee deadline will ensure he receives the full amount. His $7.7MM cap hit for ’23/24 remains non-guaranteed.

A series of foot injuries have limited Collins to just 39 games since the start of the 2019/20 season, but 28 of those came for the Spurs in the second half of ’21/22. In those 28 appearances, he put up 7.8 PPG, 5.5 RPG, and 2.2 APG in 17.9 minutes per contest, flashing some of the promise that made him the 10th overall pick in 2017.

Bartelstein is confident that bigger things are ahead for his client, as he said to Orsborn: “He is going to have an amazing summer and will take his game to another level next season.”

The Spurs now have nine players on fully guaranteed salaries for ’22/23, with Thursday’s three draft picks – Jeremy Sochan, Malaki Branham, and Blake Wesley – expected to join that group. Keita Bates-Diop, Tre Jones, and Jock Landale remain under contract without full guarantees.

Southwest Notes: McCollum, Collins, Landale, Knight, Alvarado

CJ McCollum sees tonight’s game against the Trail Blazers as the “final closure” on the trade that sent him to the Pelicans, writes Andrew Lopez of ESPN. McCollum’s family joined him in New Orleans recently, but this week marks his first time back at his Portland house since the February 8 deal.

“I had conversations and was able to talk to some of my teammates and obviously I still talk to them to this day,” said McCollum, who spent his first eight and a half NBA seasons with the Blazers. “I talked with the staff. It’ll be good to see (coach Chauncey Billups), talk about our teams. Talk about our football teams. Just kind of catch up and get back to business. Get the win and get outta here. This is the final step. You know this is going to happen at some point. But it’s good that it’s happy emotions opposed to the opposite. I like to call it a happy breakup. One where you’re not bitter at your ex.”

Although McCollum was a fan favorite in Portland and loved playing there, it was clear by the trade deadline that it was time to move on. He has quickly become a team leader with the Pelicans, averaging career-best numbers with 25.9 points, 6.5 assists and 4.9 rebounds in 19 games.

“It was a team I kind of zeroed in on and they obviously zeroed in on me,” McCollum said. “I knew what I signed up for and what I was going to be asked to do, and I’m doing it. They held up their end of the bargain as well. I’m happy to be in this situation.”

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • Zach Collins‘ return from injury and Jock Landale‘s emergence late in his first NBA season have stabilized the Spurs‘ frontcourt rotation, per Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express-News. San Antonio is especially happy with Collins, who is delivering on the three-year, $22MM gamble the organization took on him after missing nearly two full seasons and undergoing three ankle surgeries. Landale is giving the team a reason to consider guaranteeing his $1.56MM contract for next season.
  • Brandon Knight was on the court tonight, one day after rejoining the Mavericks on a 10-day contract, tweets Callie Caplan of The Dallas Morning News. Knight flew to Cleveland to meet the team, which needed backcourt help with Spencer Dinwiddie, Trey Burke and Frank Ntilikina all missing the game.
  • The four-year deal the Pelicans gave rookie guard Jose Alvarado when they converted his two-way contract carries a $1.1MM guarantee for next season, tweets Michael Scotto of HoopsHype. Years three and four are non-guaranteed, and the team holds an option on the final season.

Southwest Notes: Collins, Grizzlies, Murray, Pelicans

Spurs big man Zach Collins played his first NBA game in nearly 18 months on Friday night, recording 10 points, seven rebounds and two steals off the bench in just 13 minutes. His performance helped San Antonio defeat Houston 131-106, as the Spurs bounced back from a 17-point loss to Miami on Thursday.

“He was pretty awesome for his first pro game in two years,” head coach Gregg Popovich said of Collins, per Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express-News (Twitter link). “I can’t even imagine what was going through his head before and during the game. He was very good. A lot of rust in there probably after a couple of years. We are happy for him.”

Collins last played in August of 2020 with the Blazers. He has undergone two surgeries on his foot since then, also signing a three-year, $22MM deal with San Antonio as a free agent last offseason.

Collins only played 11 games in 2019/20 and missed the entire ’20/21 season. During the ’18/19 campaign with Portland, he averaged 6.6 points, 4.2 rebounds and 0.9 blocks in 17.6 minutes per game, appearing in a total of 77 contests.

There’s more from the Southwest Division today:

  • Mark Giannotto of the Memphis Commercial Appeal makes a case for why the Grizzlies shouldn’t harm their chemistry by making a major deal ahead of Thursday’s trade deadline. Memphis currently owns the third-best record in the NBA at 36-18. The team has seen productive seasons from MVP candidate Ja Morant, big man Jaren Jackson Jr. and others, showing great chemistry on both ends of the floor.
  • Spurs guard Dejounte Murray isn’t bothered by not making the All-Star team, Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express-News tweets. Murray is averaging a career-high 19.6 points, 8.4 rebounds and 9.2 assists per game. “I am not going to be mad, angry about it,” he said. “I didn’t make it, it’s fine. Everyone that made it, we were well deserved. Good for them. Just to be in the conversation, from where I come from…I am thankful and grateful.”
  • William Guillory of The Athletic examines potential trade scenarios for the Pelicans, who currently rank 11th in the Western Conference at 20-32. New Orleans is only one game behind Portland (21-32) for a spot in the play-in tournament. The team will be seeking its third straight win when it plays Houston on Sunday.