Jason Collins is still on the market, available to any team that needs a veteran center for the league minimum contract.
Nearly six months have passed since Collins announced that he is gay, and still the 34-year-old 7-footer remains unsigned. Collins has handled his unemployment with his typical class, refusing to use his now-public sexuality as an excuse, but others are wondering when or if a team in need of a big body will give him a call.
A couple of NBA executives reportedly believe it is “when,” not “if,” he receives that call.
“It doesn’t diminish what he did in any way, shape or form,” Golden State Warriors president and COO Rick Welts, who is openly gay, told Yahoo! Sports. “It doesn’t diminish the courage it took and the long-term impact it will have. We all know what the end story is going to be. In an ideal world with all things being equal, he would have a job. There’s a lot of factors that go with a player that could be the 14th player on a roster.
“Maybe it’s naivete, maybe it’s being in the NBA my entire life, but there is a team out there that thinks he can make a difference.”
Collins may not find a team to sign him before the season starts, an unnamed league executive told Marc Spears, but as the season wears on and injuries eat away at teams’ depth, someone will offer Collins a contract. In that case, Collins’ presence will be just as groundbreaking in January as as it would be in late October.
“All I can do is encourage him,” Welts said. “I just spoke to him this week, and he just finished a two-mile trail run and an hour-and-a-half lifting in the gym. In his mind, he’ll be ready when the call comes. But the call has to come.”