Jason Collins is a 12-year NBA veteran who began last year with the Boston Celtics and finished it with the Washington Wizards. But he made national headlines two weeks after the regular season had ended by announcing he was gay, becoming the first active professional athlete in one of the four major team sports to do so.
The “active”part is where it gets tricky, because technically, Collins disclosed this fact during the offseason, and he isn’t yet under contract for next season, either. But the latter is likely to change before training camps get going at the end of September.
Will Collins, who reportedly met with the Detroit Pistons a few weeks ago, receive a contract offer for the 2013-14 season? An informal survey of league executives at Las Vegas Summer League suggests that Collins, who remains a free agent, stands a good chance to be in uniform on opening night this fall as teams flesh out their rosters with 12th, 13th and 14th men in the weeks leading up to training camp.
“He’s a September player,” one front office exec said. “He’s a positive locker room influence and still plays big. The league likes him.”
Collins is still in the league because of his professional demeanor and work ethic, along with the fact that he can give you 10 or so minutes per game while not hurting his team defensively. He’s not going to put up much in the way of numbers, but it never hurts to add a seven-footer with a high basketball IQ to the end of the bench.
Collins’ revelation should have zero impact on whether or not he’s added to a roster for next season, but it will be interesting to see how other players around the league handle it. The best we can hope for is that it ends up being a complete non-story.