Portland Trail Blazers: Rookie extension is unlikely for Zach Collins

Portland Trail Blazers big man Zach Collins was out for most of the 2019/20 season with injuries. He is now unlikely to get extended at the rookie deadline.

Zach Collins has had a rough 2019/20 season. The Portland Trail Blazers big man dislocated his shoulder in the first week of the season, spent all of the time before the NBA Bubble on the sidelines, then returned to the bubble fit, only to injure his foot and miss the playoffs.

Not only is this a massive blow for Collins personally, but it may put doubt in the minds of the franchise around his longtime viability as a key piece for this team.

The dislocated shoulder was a freak injury that couldn’t be helped, but the second injury to his ankle was a stress fracture to his ankle, probably a more worrisome injury for team management.

Collins is just 22, and he only played 200 NBA minutes in the NBA Bubble before the injury was announced. Sudden increases in activity can cause stress fractures, so the NBA Bubble return could have been a factor after Collins didn’t play a game in eight months.

He will now have surgery in the offseason to repair the fracture. It seems this is a straight forward procedure.

This will likely impact the Blazers’ decisions around Collins rookie extension. On rookie-scale deals, an NBA team can negotiate an extension at any time from the end of the third season up to the final day before the player’s fourth season begins.

The key with any rookie extension is that the team can negotiate a deal that locks the player up early before they become a restricted free agent. Restricted free agency occurs after the last year of a player’s rookie deal, where other teams can provide offers sheets to the player. The ‘ home ‘ team can then decide whether to match this offer or let the player walk.

So, for the team that the player is currently on, negotiating an extension early means you can take the player off the market.

Collins value is now unclear, meaning an extension before the 2020/21 season is unlikely. If you were Collins’ agent, you would surely advise him to turn down any potential extension from the Blazers, advising him that playing in the 2020/21 season could increase his value. Then, Collins could hit 2021 as a restricted free agent with greater value.

The Blazers as a team may argue that they could offer a small amount of guaranteed money to secure some financial security for Collins. But, if Collins and his camp think there are no longterm impacts from this injury, it makes no sense to accept an offer like this.

The Blazers may make an offer, but it doesn’t make a lot of sense for Collins to accept any small offer while his value is probably at an all-time low.

Collins is a skilled seven-footer who can defend. There aren’t many players in the league with this type of skillset, so if he develops, he can make great money while also being a starter on a good team.

Though it’s unclear if Collins is a power forward or a center moving forward, there is no doubt about his ability and potential.

Though an extension seems unlikely at this point, I hope that Collins can come back strong in 2020/21 and show that he deserves a four-year guaranteed deal around the $10 million a year range.

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