Now, the Nets must sign him for the rest of the season – league rules say a team can sign a player to only two 10-day contracts – or drop him from their roster.
As they planned all along, they’re choosing the former.
Sources told ESPN.com on Tuesday that the Nets, who feel they’re getting everything they expected from Collins when they signed him for frontcourt depth Feb. 23, are already operating under the premise that the 34-year-old will finish the season with them even though his second 10-day deal doesn’t expire until after Friday. Sources say that the internal expectation all along was that Collins would be a Net for the rest of the season, from the moment he signed his first 10-day deal, as long he proved that he could still be an effective defender, which he did immediately.
Collins has played just 78 minutes in eight games, so it’s tough to evaluate him. His apparent production – five points, six rebounds, two assists, six steals, zero blocks, six turnovers and 18 fouls – isn’t great. The Nets haven’t excelled with him on the court (104.8/109.4/-4.6), either, though he’s mostly played with other reserves.
But Nets’ coaching staff and front office know Collins well. They want him to fill a very specific and small role once the playoffs begin, and they obviously see him as capable of doing that.
Some thought signing the first openly gay player in the four major North American team sports would be a difficult distraction to overcome. But Brooklyn 7-2 since adding Collins. It’s a credit to everyone his stint with the Nets so far has gone without incident, and now they can keep him for the rest of the year with the comfort of knowing how smoothly this has gone and likely will go.
Brooklyn play the Heat tonight, so there’s still a chance the Nets reverse course. But considering how Miami prefers to play small, Collins is probably more likely to get his second DNP-CD than get injured.
Expect Collins’ rest-of-season contract to become official Saturday.