It’s been very quiet on the Jason Collins front in Brooklyn, just as it should be.
The NBA’s first openly gay player has done the job he was brought in to do, playing smart basketball in a limited role on a Nets team that needed the depth at his position. And after playing out consecutive 10-day contracts, Collins has been signed for the remainder of the season, the team announced on Saturday via official release.
Collins isn’t there to put up numbers, and in fact, when touting his contributions to the team so far this season, the press release had to use totals instead of his statistical averages. It’s his leadership (and ability to give fouls, apparently) that have head coach Jason Kidd appreciating the team’s most recent addition.
The 35-year-old 7-footer known as “Twin” is regarded as a smart, tough player who makes opponents pay for entering the paint. Along with 37-year-old Kevin Garnett, Collins has been providing leadership for the Nets younger big men, including rookie F/C Mason Plumlee.
“[Collins] and [Garnett] can help Mason understand a lot of different things on how to get better,” Kidd said. “Twin can help him understand what it means to foul. There’s a technique I guess in that. But I think it was a good signing all around and I think it helps Mason.”
Collins is jokingly referred to as a “professional fouler” by his teammates. He is averaging 11.1 fouls per 48 minutes this season, making him one of the most frequent fowlers in the league.
The numbers, if you’re interested, are five points, six rebounds, and six steals — total — in eight games, with an average of 9.8 minutes per contest. But again, that’s not why Collins is there. And more importantly, neither is the reason that his signing has received so much coverage.