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Follow the Nets' return to New York with Newsday's Rod Boone.

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Jason Collins happy he's hanging around

Brooklyn Nets' Jason Collins enters the game during

Brooklyn Nets' Jason Collins enters the game during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Chicago Bulls, Monday, March 3, 2014, in New York. The Nets won 96-80. (Credit: AP / Seth Wenig)

WASHINGTON — Jason Collins is indeed hanging around for a little longer.

The Nets announced Saturday that they’ve signed the veteran big man for the rest of the season, a move that was expected once they initially inked him to the first of two 10-day contracts on Feb. 23.

Collins, who became the first openly gay athlete to play in one of this country’s top four professional sports leagues, has been a steady presence for the Nets on and off the court in his short nearly three-week tenure with the team. He’s grateful he’s getting the opportunity to see this thing through with the Nets these next few weeks.

"It's cool,” Collins said before the Nets’ morning shootaround at the Verizon Center in advance of their matchup with the Wizards. “Thank you to the Nets organization, coaches and players. Our team is playing really well right now and I’m glad to continue to be here.”

Collins has appeared in eight games for the Nets, accumulating five points, six rebounds and six steals in 78 minutes of action. His No. 98 jersey was one of the league’s hottest selling items on NBA.com during his first week with the Nets, and his teammates have welcomed him, giving him the same kind of treatment as everyone else.

Joe Johnson, who played with Collins when they were both with the Hawks, is glad to see Collins staying in the mix.

“I think it’s cool, man,” Johnson said. “Jason is a great dude, man. Since I’ve known him in our Atlanta days, nothing’s changed. He’s still the same guy. We joke with him, mess with him, beat him up from time to time and it’s just kind of how it goes around here.”

Nets coach Jason Kidd had an integral role in the team signing Collins, and he’s certainly pleased with the initial contributions of the guy he loves to call ‘Twin’ and what his presence could do for them long-term as they make that postseason push.

“Well, one, I think having him gives us depth at the center position,” Kidd said. “So, he understands how to play, he understands what we are trying to do defensively and offensively. So, it gives us a security in that sense, but also he’s been good for us when he’s been on the floor.”

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