Sources with knowledge of the situation said the Nets, after letting Thursday's trade deadline pass without making a deal for the Los Angeles Lakers' Jordan Hill, are weighing the addition of another big man and have identified Collins as a prime candidate to join their frontcourt rotation via the 10-day route.
Brooklyn lost Brook Lopez for the year with a foot injury and has been using Kevin Garnett, Andray Blatche and Mason Plumlee to fill the void. Collins, 35, could definitely bring a veteran presence and some solid defense to the Nets front line.
Frank Isola of the New York Daily News mentioned L.A. as a possible suitor:
As the Daily News reported, Jason Collins is working out in Bel Air at a private facility. Nets and Clippers have interest.— Frank Isola (@FisolaNYDN) February 20, 2014
He'd be equally valuable to the Clips, whose big-man rotation is similarly limited. Behind Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan, all they have is Ryan Hollins. And the moves L.A. made just before the deadline—combined with coach Doc Rivers' familiarity with Collins when both were with the Boston Celtics—indicates a move is afoot:
Given Doc Rivers' known appreciation for Jason Collins, trading two forwards in final 10 mins before deadline, him signing in LA makes sense— Tim Bontemps (@TimBontemps) February 20, 2014
Roster moves aside, Collins' biggest impact would be a social one, as a 10-day contract would make him the first openly gay athlete to compete in the NBA.
Per Darren Rovell of ESPN, new commissioner Adam Silver wasn't certain we'd ever reach this point because of Collins' age and declining skills.
"In terms of Jason not getting signed, based on everything I've been told, it's a basketball decision," Silver said last week. "Our teams want to win and Jason waited until the very tail end of his career to make that announcement."
After coming out last April, Collins has struggled to make his way back to the league. But it was only a matter of time before a team in need of his experienced leadership came calling.
The 12-year veteran last played for the Washington Wizards. If Brooklyn ends up signing him, it'll be Collins' second tour of duty with the Nets, with whom he visited the NBA Finals twice during his first stint from 2001-2008.
Head coach Jason Kidd played alongside Collins during both runs to the Finals.
The Nets would be an ideal situation for Collins, who has made no secret of wanting one more shot at the NBA. He'd be surrounded by veterans with whom he's familiar, a coach that appreciates what he can do and, most of all, a team that needs exactly the kind of grit and toughness he brings.