Tag: Darren Collison

Houston Rockets v Sacramento Kings

Darren Collison, who went from hot-shot rookie to journeyman, may have found niche with Kings


BOSTON – Darren Collison lost a job because he played well. He lost a job because he got hurt. And he lost a job because he played poorly.

The point guard has moved around the NBA at nearly an unprecedented rate for someone with his early career credentials, but maybe, just maybe, he has found a place he can stay for a while.

The Kings gave Collison a three-year, $16 million contract in free agency last summer – even though that meant casting aside incumbent starter Isaiah Thomas, a player many (myself included) thought was superior to Collison. Collison has rewarded their faith, posting career highs in points per game (16.4), assists per game (5.9) and PER (18.7).

There’s little stability in Sacramento – where the coach just got fired despite exceeding all reasonable expectations, the owner has his own crazy ideas and the franchise player is brooding – but Collison has potential to stick. His speed equips him to run the up-tempo, jazzy system Vivek Ranadivé wants, and Collison’s bond with DeMarcus Cousins gives him a powerful ally.

“The opportunity is definitely here,” Collison said last week. “It just seems like everything is all coming together. I’m more confident.”

Collison has long had reason to be confident in himself, though not always his fit with his team.

He broke in with the 2009-10 New Orleans Hornets, getting a huge opportunity when Chris Paul got hurt. In 37 starts, Collison averaged 18.8 points, shooting 48.5 percent from the field and 42.9 percent on 3-pointers, and 9.1 assists per game – All-Star-caliber numbers. Of course, no matter how well Collison played, the Hornets weren’t going to choose him over Paul.

They dealt him to Indiana, where he became a full-time starter and helped the Pacers end their longest playoff drought of his lifetime (four seasons). Reggie Miller comparisons didn’t seem outlandish. But Collison got hurt during his second season in Indiana, and George Hill Wally Pipped him in the starting lineup.

The Pacers sold low on Collison, trading him to the Mavericks. Dallas initially started Collison, but he lost the role to Dominique Jones, then Derek Fisher, then Mike James after Rick Carlisle expressed frustration with Collison’s defense. By the time the 2012-13 season ended, the Mavericks didn’t even extend Collison a qualifying offer.

He signed with the Clippers, taking a pay cut from his rookie-scale contract. Full circle, he was once again backing up and sometimes playing with Chris Paul. After the season, he opted out seeking a raise.

That’s when the Kings came calling, becoming Collison’s fifth team six seasons.

Just two other players have made an All-Rookie first team since the NBA-ABA merger and played for so many teams in their first six seasons:

  • Marc Jackson, 2001 (Warriors, Timberwolves, 76ers, New Jersey Nets, New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets)
  • Ron Mercer, 1998 (Celtics, Nuggets, Magic, Bulls, Pacers)

Jackson was out of the league one year later, and Mercer lasted only one more than that. The 27-year-old Collison certainly hopes he won’t suffer a similar fate.

That’s why Collison appreciates his opportunity in Sacramento.

“That’s all it is, really,” Collison said. “There’s a lot of good players in this league, but they don’t necessarily have the opportunity. Sometimes, they’re with a team, and they still don’t have an opportunity. They’re not going out there playing their games. I think, this year, I have a chance to do that.

“When I was with previous teams, it was hard to fit in. I couldn’t play my game, necessarily. So, this year, has been good for me.”

And good for the Kings’ offense.

They’re posting their best offensive rating relative to league average in a decade, and Collison is steering the ship.

Prior to this season, Collison has never had a dramatic effect on his teams’ offensive outputs. They’d all scored within two points per 100 possessions with him on the court as they did with him off.

But Sacramento’s offensive rating jumps from 95.6 with him off to 107.8 with him on.


Some of that success can be chalked up to Collison spending most of his minutes with Cousins, Sacramento’s top player. But credit Collison for quickly learning how to play with the star center. Cousins scores better by volume (26.8 to 24.2 points per 36 minutes) and efficiency (51.7 to 46.4 field-goal percentage) when Collison is on the court rather than off.

The key to meshing with Cousins?

“Give him the ball, and let him work,” Collison said. “…It’s that easy.”

Collison’s deferential attitude aside, he’s not merely riding Cousins’ coattails. When the center missed 10 straight games with viral meningitis, the Kings still scored much better with Collison on the court than off (103.7 to 94.7 points per 100 possessions).

In fact, pair Collison with any teammate, and the Kings score better with Collison on the court. Here’s Sacramento’s offensive rating with each player and Collison on the court (purple) and off the court (black), sorted by minutes played with Collison:


(Eric Moreland, who barely played before suffering a season-ending injury, is excluded from the visualization.)

Player Min. with Collison Min. without Collison Off. rating with Collison Off. rating without Collison Diff.
Rudy Gay 966 200 109.1 99.0 +10.1
Ben McLemore 874 254 108.5 95.5 +13.0
Jason Thompson 682 157 105.1 91.9 +13.2
DeMarcus Cousins 550 195 111.9 98.6 +13.3
Carl Landry 263 358 103.7 92.8 10.9
Reggie Evans 238 185 105.7 96.0 +9.7
Derrick Williams 206 243 111.3 98.4 +12.9
Omri Casspi 155 300 108.6 96.0 +12.6
Ryan Hollins 144 58 98.1 83.6 +14.5
Nik Stauskas 141 330 105.4 96.1 +9.3
Ray McCallum 71 205 110.7 91.7 +19
Ramon Sessions 33 394 107.4 97.4 +10
Eric Moreland 1 1 200.0 166.7 +33.3

At some point, the common denominator becomes clear: Collison.

He knocks down pull-up jumpers from mid-range, not exactly an analytical hotbed, but a part of the floor that opens thanks to his pick-and-roll probing. He has improved working off the ball, spotting up for corner 3s. And he keeps the ball moving.

In a conference where half the Kings’ opponents start a former All-Star at point guard, Collison doesn’t exactly stand out. But he’s brining credibility to the position in Sacramento.

“He’s comfortable,” Kings coach Tyrone Corbin said. “He’s gotten his confidence back. His speed, pushing the ball down the floor. He knows he’s going to be on the floor for a certain amount of minutes, so he’s relaxed and just playing at a pace that’s favorable to his style of play.”

It’d be foolish to say Collison, just 31 games into his Sacramento tenure, has found a home. His previous teams have struggled to determine whether he should start or come off the bench for fair reasons, and toeing that line has made him expendable.

But this season, Collison is showing he’s a quality starter.

“This year, I definitely proved that,” Collison said. “So, now, it’s not even about proving to be a good starter. It’s about leading the team now.”

Report: Trade talks between Kings and Nets ‘on hiatus’ with Mason Plumlee off the table

Mason Plumlee, Timofey Mozgov, Jarrett Jack

The Nets made it known that any of their three biggest stars in Deron Williams, Joe Johnson and Brook Lopez could be had via trade, if a team could be found who was interested enough in taking on more in terms of salary than it would likely get in production.

The Kings bit initially, and talks began on a deal centered around Williams.

But the former All-Star point guard wasn’t Sacramento’s main target. Instead, it was Mason Plumlee that the Kings were after, the promising young big man in the early stages of just his second season. And they were willing to take on the contract of Williams in order to make that trade happen.

Give the Nets credit for being smarter than that. They have yet to make Plumlee available, and as a result, the talks have been shelved for the immediate future.

From Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:

The Sacramento Kings’ insistence on a trade package for Brooklyn Nets guard Deron Williams that includes center Mason Plumlee has pushed talks into a hiatus, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

After the teams’ front office officials again talked on Wednesday, both sides insisted they weren’t budging on Plumlee’s inclusion into a proposed trade and agreed there was no use discussing the deal further in the near future, league sources said.

“Talks aren’t dead, but nothing’s going to happen with Plumlee involved,” a league source told Yahoo Sports.

The Kings were offering Darren Collison as a Williams replacement, and low-grade big men Jason Thompson and Derrick Williams to compensate for the loss of Plumlee.

But Brooklyn has tried to build a roster around expensive, aging veterans in recent years, and with very few draft picks still in the team’s hands to use in the upcoming seasons, the only young talent in place is Plumlee. And moving him just to save some salary is far from a smart way to rebuild for the future.

Thankfully for Nets fans, the front office in Brooklyn seems to realize it.

Report: Kings discussing trade for Deron Williams with Nets

New Jersey Nets practice 05/07/2014

After a start to the season that was far below Brooklyn’s expectations, the Nets essentially placed anyone and everyone on the trading block — in order to improve, or potentially to hit the reset button while intending to rebuild from scratch.

While the contracts of Deron Williams, Joe Johnson and even Brook Lopez would appear to be difficult to move considering the dollar amounts that are guaranteed relative to those players’ current levels of production, at least one team appears ready to make a move to take one of them on.

From Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:

The Brooklyn Nets and Sacramento Kings are discussing a deal centered on former All-Star guard Deron Williams, league sources told Yahoo Sports. …

The talks have centered on sending the Nets point guard Darren Collison and forwards Derrick Williams and Jason Thompson as part of a multi-player package for Williams, league sources said. …

The Nets’ partnership with Williams has become increasingly fractured over the past two years, and the idea of a breakup has appeal for both sides, sources tell Yahoo.

In light of recent events, we really shouldn’t be surprised.

Ownership in Sacramento is for some reason desperate to make an immediate splash; it’s the reason that a competent head coach was fired midseason for no good reason.

Williams has been great in the early part of the year, but health issues may be creeping into the picture once again. Williams is set for an MRI on a calf injury that forced him out of Brooklyn’s close loss to the Cavaliers on Friday.

Sacramento is reportedly pushing to get Mason Plumlee as part of the deal, and if the Kings persist, that will likely kill these talks. Brooklyn rightfully considers Plumlee relatively untouchable at this point, as they should — despite head coach Lionel Hollins being somewhat reluctant to trust him thus far.

Nothing is imminent, and the conversations will continue. But make no mistake — Deron Williams is available, and the Kings are one of the more likely teams to be willing to absorb that contract, and take him off of Brooklyn’s hands.