JULY 12TH, 7:21pm: The Kings have made the signing official in a team release.
1:26pm: The deal is worth $15MM, rather than $16MM, as Eric Pincus of the Los Angeles Times hears (Twitter link). Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports also has it as $15MM. That would make it for slightly less than the value of the $5.305MM mid-level exception.
11:17am: Sacramento intends to waive a player and use the stretch provision to accommodate Collison’s deal, tweets Ken Berger of CBSSports.com. The Kings wouldn’t have to do that to fit underneath the tax line as it stands, so perhaps Sacramento is thinking about adding salary via trade or saving room to re-sign Thomas to a significant deal, though that’s just my speculation (Twitter link). In any case, Collison agreed to the deal under the impression that he will start, according to USA Today’s Sam Amick (on Twitter).
JULY 3RD, 10:45am: The Kings will sign Darren Collison to a three-year, $16MM deal, reports Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times (Twitter link). It’s a fully guaranteed deal, Turner adds (on Twitter). Jorge Sierra of HoopsHype first reported that the sides were engaging in talks (Twitter link).
“The Kings were the most aggressive team by far in the free agency, and I respected that on all levels,” Collison said, according to Turner (Twitter link).
Sacramento made its desire to add a pass-first point guard clear, even as it seeks to re-sign restricted free agent Isaiah Thomas. Collison rehabilitated his career during his one-year stint with the Clippers, proving an effective backup to Chris Paul and a capable replacement for the superstar when he went down with injury.
It was difficult for the BDA Sports Management client to leave the Clippers, Turner tweets, and Doc Rivers said he would make re-signing Collison his top offseason priority. Collison told Turner that he didn’t feel that was the case, however (Twitter links).
Collison was reportedly leaning toward returning when he opted out of his deal late last month. Still, the capped-out Clippers were in a tough spot, since they had only the Non-Bird exception to give Collison a 20% raise on his $1.9MM salary without dipping into the mid-level exception.
Instead it’s the Kings using their mid-level to convince Collison to move north. The amount for which Collison signed is what the Kings had wanted to pay Thomas, tweets Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee, and while the Collison agreement doesn’t necessarily forestall the return of Thomas, it casts further doubt on the future of Thomas in Sacramento.