A familiar face was in attendance at Staples Center on Thursday night, according to Dave McMenamin of ESPN, who writes that veteran point guard Darren Collison watched the Lakers host the Rockets in a second-row seat near team owner Jeanie Buss.
Collison, who was said last month to be mulling an NBA return, would reportedly prefer to stay on the West Coast and play for the Lakers or Clippers if he makes a comeback. A source tells ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne that the Lakers were “recruiting” Collison, who plans to discuss his next step over the next week with his agent and family. A decision appears likely to come after All-Star weekend.
For his part, Collison was unwilling to give any hints about whether his presence at Staples Center on Thursday night suggests he’s leaning toward joining the Lakers.
“Just watching the game, ain’t nothing to it,” Collison told ESPN. “Got the best seats in the house.”
Of the two Los Angeles teams, the Lakers – who could use one more play-maker in their backcourt – may have a greater need for Collison, but they currently have a full 15-man roster so they’d need to waive someone to open up a spot. The Clippers, on the other hand, are expected to have two openings once they officially waive Isaiah Thomas. For what it’s worth, Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer tweeted on Thursday that league sources have “long believed” Collison would prefer the Lakers.
Of course, before Collison picks a team, he’ll have to decide whether or not he actually wants to return to the NBA after his surprise retirement last summer. ESPN analyst Matt Barnes said on Thursday that Collison told him he’s still “50/50” on whether to play.