Jason Collins works out for Nets, GM Billy King says
SAN FRANCISCO - Jason Collins, who became the first openly gay athlete in major American team sports when he revealed his sexuality in April, is on the Nets' radar, and general manager Billy King confirmed that the team worked him out during the All-Star break.
With Thursday's trade deadline in the rearview mirror and the Nets opting not to make any last-minute deals after shipping Reggie Evans and Jason Terry to Sacramento for Marcus Thornton on Wednesday, they're in dire need of another big body on their front line. The Nets reportedly had talks with the Lakers regarding forward Jordan Hill, but nothing emerged from those conversations.
So Collins, who was a guest of First Lady Michelle Obama at the president's "State of the Union" address in January, would fill a void for a team that has two open roster spots and could use more length behind Kevin Garnett, Andray Blatche and rookie Mason Plumlee.
"We will look at anybody that's a free agent that's big that's out there," King said. "We will look at anybody in the D-League that's big. We are going to look at guys coming back from China and we will explore all of them.
"Jason Collins, he's a free agent out there. He's one of the names on the list. We are looking at any guys that are free agents and he's one of the guys, but we've got other guys that we'll look at."
King said he didn't attend the workout with Collins, who played with the Nets for six-plus seasons, but from the report that he received, the 7-footer is "in good shape."
If the Nets were to sign the 12-year veteran -- who's been looking for a job since coming out -- it could create a frenzied media blitz, given the rarity of an openly gay athlete in a traditional male locker room. Almost like what's surrounding NFL draft prospect Michael Sam.
King stiff-armed any thought that this could be some kind of publicity stunt. "We are going to bring in a basketball player," he said. "It's not about marketing or anything like that. We are bringing in a player for the short term to help our basketball team. It's not about marketing. We are beyond doing something for gimmicks. We are trying to get a guy in who can play basketball at this point. That's my focus."
Collins has had a marginal career since getting drafted 18th overall in 2001, averaging3.6 points and 3.8 rebounds. He was a teammate of Nets coach Jason Kidd in New Jersey. He also played with Joe Johnson in Atlanta as well as Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett in Boston for part of last season. Collins is a good friend of Brook Lopez, too. Both graduated from Stanford.
Still, with fewer than 30 games remaining, Collins in essence would have to assimilate into the team on the fly. That's no easy feat, but the Nets apparently believe Collins can do it without disrupting the team's chemistry. Otherwise, he wouldn't even be a blip on their screen.
"I think when you bring a guy in, you look at everything there can potentially be," King said. "If the decision is made to add a player, you are looking at every aspect.''