We are still a week or so away from the Suns having to make this decision, but with Robin Lopez returning to practice on Friday for his first full-contact workout since fracturing his foot during training camp, the Suns will soon have to decide whether it’s worth keeping Jarron Collins around.
ValleyoftheSuns’ Michael Schwartz and Tyler Lockman debate what the Suns should do with their veteran center once Lopez proves his health.
Pro: Just look at the Houston tape
When the Suns claimed Collins’ non-guaranteed contract during the preseason, I wondered why they even bothered since he seemed like the antithesis of a player who would thrive in the Suns’ system, particularly since head coach Alvin Gentry said he didn’t think Phoenix should sign a guy unless he could crack the rotation.
There’s certainly nothing flashy about Collins’ game, but unlike Stromile Swift last year, Collins can help this basketball team. He’s spent eight years with Utah and Jerry Sloan and in that time has seen it all, and he’s seen it in the Western Conference.
He’s a guy who can handle not playing for days at a time and still stay ready to step in when foul trouble calls to contribute to a win, as he did with six points, six boards, two blocks and solid defense in 13 second-half minutes Tuesday in Houston.
Most of all he’s a calming veteran influence who can be more of a mentor to Lopez than the selfish Shaqtus ever was, and he’s a reliable insurance policy in case one of Phoenix’s bigs go down for an extended period.
In reality most NBA rosters hold more than the minimum, although the Suns have always kept to the minimum the past few years largely for financial reasons. A full year of Collins at the minimum, offset by what the NBA contributes, is about $825K, so even with the luxury tax you’re only looking at about another $2 million. If need be they can cut the useless Taylor Griffin to save a chunk of that change.
If the Suns are the Western Conference contender they seem to be, Jarron Collins is the kind of player who will come in handy in a clutch situation later in the year. You don’t want to be wondering “what if?” if the injury bug bites again and Collins is nowhere to be found.
– Michael Schwartz
Con: The minutes aren’t there
There is no doubting that Jarron Collins brings a veteran presence and a wealth of knowledge to the Phoenix Suns, but with Robin Lopez returning soon, there will simply be no place left for him on the team.
Channing Frye is the starter for now and he is getting more consistent as he adjusts to the Suns’ system. Lou Amundson has been a very capable backup, pulling 5.1 points and 4.2 rebounds in about 15 minutes per game. More than that, he has been a defensive asset, blocking shots and making stops.
Lopez, however, is the biggest reason to send Collins on his way. With a year of experience under his belt and (hopefully) improved strength, Lopez should move into the primary backup role once his tank is full. If his strength is there, he has the size to be a great rebounder. He should also bring an immediate shot-blocking presence.
Collins — though he averages just 1.5 ppg and 2.4 rpg — has been valuable in tight situations, like his six-point, six-rebound performance against the Houston Rockets when the Suns’ primary big men were in foul trouble. But Lopez can provide that and more.
Keeping three centers on this team just doesn’t make sense, and it’s unusual for the Suns to hang on to more than the roster minimum anyway. Although I’m sure the Suns are grateful for what Collins has provided thus far, I just can’t see them keeping him.
Plain and simple, there are no minutes for Collins in the purple and orange.
– Tyler Lockman
Should the Suns keep Collins or release him? Share your thoughts in the comments section.