Nearly 10 months after becoming the first openly gay NBA player, Jason Collins will finally get his chance to, well, play.
With free-agent-to-be forward Glen Davis telling the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday that he intends to sign with them after he clears waivers at 5 p.m. Eastern and thereby taking the Brooklyn Nets' top free agent option off the table, the Nets moved quickly to finalize a 10-day deal with Collins. And after USA TODAY Sports first reported Davis' intentions, the Nets confirmed the expected signing of Collins to a 10-day contract in a statement about the historic event. Collins, who will be the first openly-gay player in all four major North American professional sports, is expected to be available for tonight's game in Los Angeles against the Lakers.
"The decision to sign Jason was a basketball decision," Nets general manager Billy King said in the statement. "We needed to increase our depth inside, and with his experience and size, we felt he was the right choice for a 10-day contract."
New NBA Commissioner Adam Silver issued a statement about Collins' signing as well.
"Jason told us that his goal was to earn another contract with an NBA team," Silver said. "Today, I want to commend him on achieving his goal. I know everyone in the NBA family is excited for him and proud that our league fosters an inclusive and respectful environment."
The 35-year-old Collins announced his homosexuality by way of Sports Illustrated in late April, and thus became known as the first openly-gay NBA player. Yet because Collins never continued his career, the revelation was somewhat anticlimactic in terms of its possible social impact.
That changed on Sunday, though, as the Nets and other teams vying for Davis' services were told that he would sign with the Clippers and the runway for Collins' moment was thereby cleared. Per the rules of the NBA's collective bargaining agreement, a team can only sign a player to two 10-day contracts in the scope of one season. So if all goes well with the Nets, they would have to decide whether to sign Collins for the rest of the season either at the conclusion of this 10-day deal or the next. Collins' twin brother and former NBA player, Jarron Collins, hinted at the forthcoming excitement via Twitter not long after the news of Davis' intentions was first reported by USA TODAY Sports.
"Hope everyone is enjoying their Sunday. Today should be a pretty cool day!"
Davis reached a buyout agreement with the Orlando Magic on Friday, and was known to be considering the Nets and Clippers as options (the Golden State Warriors and Chicago Bulls, among other teams, also had interest).
The Nets, meanwhile, were considering a list of free agent possibilities that included players currently playing in the National Basketball Development League and others who are playing in China. Brooklyn has a clear need for another big body down low, as they had extensive trade talks with the Los Angeles Lakers about center Jordan Hill leading up to the deadline but ultimately passed on that possibility.
In 13 seasons, Collins became known as a classy professional who averaged 3.6 points and 3.8 rebounds per game with six teams. He spent his first six season with the Nets when the team was still in New Jersey.