Thunder’s Nick Collison retires after 15 years with franchise

AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki
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The Seattle SuperSonics drafted Nick Collison with the No. 12 pick in the 2003 draft (one of their two first-round picks in that historic draft, the other No. 14 pick Luke Ridnour). Collison spent five years in Seattle, moved with the franchise to Oklahoma City then played another 15 years for the Thunder.

Now, Collison is leaving Kevin Durant and Jeff Green as the only active players who played for the Sonics.

Collison, as told to Royce Young of ESPN:

I started in cold gyms in small towns in Iowa and ended up playing in more than 1,000 games over 15 years in the best league in the world. I’ve had an incredible run. I’m proud of my career.

But it’s time to go. I’m retiring from competitive basketball.

Collison’s lasting impact will be the Nick Collison Rule, the unofficial name for the Collective Bargaining Agreement clause that limits how much a player’s salary can decrease in a contract extension that’s paired with a renegotiation. In 2010, the Thunder used their cap space to give Collison a massive, single-year raise. In exchange, he accepted a contract extension with four years of below-market-rate salary.

Following his rookie-scale extension and that creative 2010 deal, Collison signed another contract extension in 2015. He didn’t become a free agent until 2017 – after 14 years in the NBA.

Of course, he re-signed with Oklahoma City. Over several years as a role player, he and the franchise developed a loyalty to each other. (The best manifestation: His “White Men Can’t Jump” Halloween outfits with Russell Westbrook.)

Collison, 37, barely played the last couple seasons. It wouldn’t be surprising if he works for the Thunder in another capacity. It won’t be much of a transition.