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Reaction: Nets to sign Jason Collins

2/24/2014

The Brooklyn Nets will sign Jason Collins to a 10-day contract, according to sources. Collins is expected to be in uniform Sunday night against the Los Angeles Lakers.

What it means: Collins will make history, becoming the first openly gay active player in any of the four major North American professional sports leagues (MLB, NBA, NFL, NHL). It seems fitting that he’ll do so with Brooklyn. On April 15, 1947, Jackie Robinson broke baseball's color line with the Brooklyn Dodgers. Nearly 57 years later, Collins will break a barrier of his own with the Nets.

Collins last played in an NBA game on April 17, 2013, with the Washington Wizards, but that was before he made his courageous decision to come out publicly. He has been working out ever since but had yet to latch on with a team. The Nets considered signing Collins in the offseason but did not have a roster spot for him.

Basketball decision: Collins, 35, is being brought in to help the Nets win basketball games. The 7-footer is known for his ability to defend the low post, box out and set solid screens. He is also a strong locker-room presence who can mentor the team’s younger big men. The Nets worked out Collins privately early this week in Los Angeles, and GM Billy King came away with a report that Collins was “in good shape.”

King dismissed talk about it being a publicity stunt.

"We are going to bring in a basketball player," he said. "It's not about marketing or anything like that. We are bringing in a player for the short term to help our basketball team. It's not about marketing. We are beyond doing something for gimmicks. We are trying to get a guy in who can play basketball at this point. That's my focus."

Not their first choice: The Nets wanted Glen Davis, but once they found out he was joining the Los Angeles Clippers, Brooklyn moved quickly, setting up a meeting with Collins. While Collins’ skills have diminished, there isn’t much out there on the free-agent market now that the trade deadline has passed. Given how much the Nets have struggled to rebound and defend the paint -- especially when Kevin Garnett is off the floor -- Collins’ addition is a welcome one. He should see significant minutes with Garnett sitting out some games of back-to-back sets.

Remember: Collins, a 12-year veteran, was drafted by the then-New Jersey Nets in 2001 out of Stanford and was teammates with his new coach, Jason Kidd. He was a key contributor on the New Jersey teams that advanced to back-to-back NBA Finals in 2002 and 2003.