By Brad Rowland
In the midst of a preseason loss to the Memphis Grizzlies, Atlanta Hawks big man John Collins quietly exited at the halftime. While that would not have been out of the ordinary for a key piece during an exhibition contest, Collins was then sidelined for the following tilt with the Oklahoma City Thunder and, shortly thereafter, he was ruled out the remainder of the preseason, shedding light on some potential concern after being listed as “out” with left ankle soreness.
On Friday, the Hawks announced that the second-year big man will be unavailable at the start of the regular season. Collins underwent an MRI that revealed what the team is calling “mild inflammation and soreness” and that led to a non-surgical procedure. He will be re-evaluated on Oct. 22 and, as a result, will miss at least three games.
As noted on multiple occasions, Collins is arguably the team’s most indispensable player for the 2018-19 season, as the Hawks do not have a ready-made replacement for what the 2017 first round pick brings to the table. Beyond that, Atlanta is already dealing with the absence of incumbent starting center Dewayne Dedmon, leaving considerable depth issues for Lloyd Pierce to deal with in the frontcourt as the regular season begins on Wednesday in New...