Nets' interest in Jason Collins rising

Updated: February 23, 2014, 11:55 AM ET
By Marc Stein and Ohm Youngmisuk | ESPN.com

There is growing sentiment within the Brooklyn Nets' organization to move quickly to sign Jason Collins to a 10-day contract if they are spurned by free agent-to-be Glen Davis, according to sources with knowledge of the situation.

Collins will meet with the Nets later Sunday and is expected to sign with Brooklyn, a source told ESPN.

Sources told ESPN.com that the Nets -- who have made Davis their top frontcourt target -- still intend to make a signing soon if they can't convince Davis to choose them over the Los Angeles Clippers.

The teams in the hunt for Davis, sources said, expect a decision Sunday. The league office, meanwhile, has confirmed to ESPN that Davis will officially become an unrestricted free agent Sunday at 5 p.m. ET if, as expected, he is not claimed off waivers by another team.

One source close to the process made it clear Saturday that the Nets "will be ready to move on" should Brooklyn lose its recruiting faceoff with the Doc Rivers-coached Clippers.

Sources indicate Davis will likely make his choice based on available playing time and the situation he likes best, given that the salary he receives from his new team will simply be subtracted from the amount Orlando owes him after the buyout.

Assuming that the Nets miss on Davis and go ahead with their Collins plan, sources said, he would receive a 10-day deal that positions the 35-year-old to become the first openly gay active player in North America's four recognized major team sports. The Nets and Collins will be in the same city Sunday when Brooklyn plays the Los Angeles Lakers.

Collins hasn't played in an NBA game since April 2013 with the Washington Wizards. He's been working out on his own for months in the L.A. area after failing to earn an invite to training camp from any of the league's 30 teams in the wake of revealing his sexuality some 10 months ago.

But the Nets, as ESPN.com first reported, quietly auditioned Collins in a private workout earlier this week that was later confirmed by Nets general manager Billy King, who said his reports from the audition found Collins to be "in shape."

Friday's unexpected emergence of Davis on the market -- with Orlando consenting to buy him out even though Davis was not playing on an expiring contract -- has led the Nets to adopt a somewhat fluid approach to their search for frontcourt help in case other unexpected names become available. It's believed that Davis, unlike Collins, is being offered a deal for the rest of the season.

But the serious nature of Brooklyn's interest in signing Collins is reflected in the fact that they arranged the private workout with the 7-footer and former Nets draftee even before Wednesday's trade with Sacramento that cost them rebounding specialist Reggie Evans.

Before Brookyn's game Saturday night at Golden State, Nets big man Kevin Garnett told reporters at the morning shootaorund that both Davis and Collins would be welcome additions. Garnett has found himself lobbying head-to-head again former boss Rivers in the chase for Davis; all three of them were on the same side when the Boston Celtics won a championship in 2008.

"I guess Baby's a hot commodity right now," Garnett said. "His basketball IQ fits into what we do here. He's a talker, he communicates, he understands, he knows championship basketball. So, yeah, I think he can definitely help us."

"I played with JC, too ... very similar to Baby. Probably doesn't have the distance in some of the skill level, but great competitor, plays team basketball, is for the team, great guy, great character. Those two can definitely help this team."

Garnett also scoffed at the notion that Collins' announcement would be any sort of issue with the Nets.

"I think it's important that anybody who has the capabilities and skill level [gets] a chance to [do] something he's great at," Garnett said. "I think it would be bias, and in a sense, racist, if you [were] to keep that opportunity from a person."

ESPN.com's Ramona Shelburne contributed to this report.

Marc Stein | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com
• Senior NBA writer for ESPN.com
• Began covering the NBA in 1993-94
• Also covered soccer, tennis and the Olympics
Ohm Youngmisuk has covered the Giants, Jets and the NFL since 2006. Prior to that, he covered the Nets, Knicks and the NBA for nearly a decade. He joined ESPNNewYork.com after working at the New York Daily News for almost 12 years and is a graduate of Michigan State University.
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