Darren Collison

And-Ones: Molinar, All-Defense, Most Influential Players, Collison

Mississippi State guard Iverson Molinar announced on Twitter today that he is declaring for the 2022 NBA draft while maintaining his NCAA eligibility.

Molinar, who recently completed his junior season with the Bulldogs, led the team in both points (17.5) and assists (3.6) per game in 2021/22. He also chipped in 3.1 RPG and 1.2 SPG in 34 appearances (34.1 MPG).

Although he showed the ability to hit outside shots during his first two college seasons (.419 3PT%), Molinar’s three-point percentage dropped to just 25.2% this season. Still, ESPN ranks him at the No. 64 player on its big board for 2022, so he has a chance to be a second-rounder if he keeps his name in the draft.

Here are a few more odds and ends from across the basketball world:

  • Using a series of new advanced metrics, Kirk Goldsberry of ESPN.com (Insider link) identifies the top candidates for the NBA’s All-Defensive teams for 2021/22. Goldsberry’s list includes a pair of Celtics (Marcus Smart and Robert Williams), two recent Defensive Players of the Year (Rudy Gobert and Giannis Antetokounmpo), and a rookie (Herb Jones), among others.
  • Michael Scotto of HoopsHype polled 52 current and former NBA players, asking them to name the five most influential players in league history. Michael Jordan, LeBron James, Allen Iverson, Kobe Bryant, and Magic Johnson were the leading vote-getters, according to Scotto, who also shared the rest of the top 10 and outlined which other players received votes.
  • As expected, the South Bay Lakers have officially added veteran guard Darren Collison to their roster (Twitter link). A report earlier this week indicated that Collison was joining Los Angeles’ G League affiliate.

Darren Collison To Join South Bay Lakers

Free agent point guard Darren Collison is joining the South Bay Lakers, the Lakers‘ G League affiliate, per Shams Charania of The Athletic (via Twitter).

Charania notes that South Bay is currently the second seed, and that the addition of Collison could help the club make a postseason push. According to Charania, Collison is also hoping to make an impression on NBA clubs in the hopes of earning a call-up.

Collison, 34, initially retired in the 2019 offseason but returned this year on a 10-day hardship contract with the Lakers. In 12.3 MPG across three games with Los Angeles, Collison looked rusty, to say the least. The 6’0″ guard averaged 1.3 PPG on 28.6% field goal shooting, plus 1.3 RPG and 0.7 APG.

He holds career averages of 12.5 PPG, 5.0 APG and 2.7 RPG in 711 career NBA games, with a .471/.394/.853 shooting line.

Signing with South Bay represents something of a homecoming for Collison. A native of the Southern California suburb of Rancho Cucamonga, Collison was selected with the No. 21 pick out of UCLA by the then-New Orleans Hornets in 2009. In 10 NBA seasons prior to his first retirement, he also suited up for the Pacers in two separate stints, the Mavericks, Clippers, and Kings.

Lakers Notes: Johnson, Collison, Rondo, Bradley, Monk

There’s mutual interest between the Lakers and Stanley Johnson to reach a contract agreement, Dave McMenamin of ESPN tweets.

Johnson has been playing on a 10-day contract under the hardship exception but that expired on Monday. The Lakers currently have no players in the protocols but traditional 10-day contracts can be signed as early as Wednesday. Johnson could sign up to two traditional 10-day contracts, since the hardship contract didn’t count against those deals. The team could also bring back Johnson on a standard contract.

Johnson has averaged 6.8 PPG on 45.8% shooting, 2.8 RPG and 1.2 SPG in five games, including three starts. He has also made a strong impact with his defense.

Darren Collison‘s 10-day hardship deal also expired on Monday.

We have more on the Lakers:

  • The club has an open roster spot due to the three-team deal that sent Rajon Rondo to Cleveland. That deal was made official on Monday. Los Angeles wasn’t eager to move on from Rondo but needed the roster flexibility, McMenamin writes. “It wasn’t like we wanted to depart from Rondo,” coach Frank Vogel said. “But it’s just one of those front office decisions that you have to make difficult decisions and to lose a guy like Rondo is obviously very difficult.”
  • The Lakers could also open up another roster spot if they waive Avery Bradley before Friday, when his veteran’s minimum contract becomes fully guaranteed, McMenamin notes in the same story.
  • Malik Monk, who is on a one-year, minimum-salary contract, has been making the most of his recent opportunities, Kyle Goon of the Orange County Register writes. Monk, who has averaged 20 PPG over the last five contests, was motivated by other teams’ lack of interest in the free agent market. “It kind of hit me hard when nobody really wanted me besides the Lakers, man,” he said. “So I just put fuel in my tank and just held it in until the time until I get time to play, man, and prove I can play for a long period of time. That’s what I’m doing right now.”

Lakers Sign Darren Collison, Stanley Johnson To 10-Day Deals

4:45 PM: The 10-day contracts for Collison and Johnson are now official, per Kyle Goon of The Southern California News Group (via Twitter).

12:28 PM: The Lakers intend to sign guard Darren Collison and forward Stanley Johnson to 10-day contracts via hardship exceptions, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, who reports (via Twitter) that the team hopes both players can be available for Saturday’s Christmas Day contest vs. Brooklyn.

Collison made a surprise retirement announcement just ahead of free agency in the summer of 2019, citing family and religious reasons. In his final NBA season in 2018/19, he averaged 11.2 PPG and 6.0 APG with a .467/.407/.832 shooting line in 76 games (28.2 MPG) for the Pacers.

There were reports that Collison might return with the Lakers or Clippers during the ’19/20 season, but nothing came of those rumors and he later said they were overblown. However, the 34-year-old reportedly worked out for the Lakers and Warriors this summer, signaling that he remained open to the idea of a comeback. Now, for at least 10 days, it’s happening.

Johnson, 25, signed a 10-day hardship deal with the Bulls earlier this month, but entered the health and safety protocols before appearing in a game with the team. Assuming he tested positive for COVID-19, it appears he’s now fully recovered.

The No. 8 overall pick in the 2015 draft, Johnson has played for the Pistons, Pelicans, and Raptors since entering the NBA. He has proven capable of providing energy and defensive versatility off the bench, but his offensive game has always been limited. In 371 career regular season games, he has averaged 6.2 PPG on .375/.298/.761 shooting in 19.7 minutes per contest.

Collison and Johnson will be the Lakers’ third and fourth hardship signings, joining Isaiah Thomas and Jemerrio Jones. The team currently has five players in the NBA’s health and safety protocols.

Pacific Notes: McGee, Kuminga, M. Gasol, Collison

JaVale McGee already has three NBA championship rings and he believes joining the Suns gives him a good chance to get another one, writes Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic. McGee chose the defending Western Conference champs in free agency, signing a one-year contract worth $5MM, and he sees his role as a mentor who can contribute valuable minutes as a backup center.

“I feel like my game definitely helps Deandre Ayton in a major way just for the veteran leadership alone,” McGee said. “Also when he gets into foul trouble and having that veteran big to come in that’s 7 foot, block shots, defend, rebound and does all the intangibles that a real big man does.”

McGee has played alongside some elite teammates during his 13-year NBA career, including Stephen Curry and LeBron James. Now he’s looking forward to teaming up with Chris Paul, who transformed Phoenix into a title contender last season.

“Every big man that has ever played with Chris Paul has done well,” McGee said. “I just feel like Chris Paul is definitely the head of the snake and he’s definitely going to lead us to the finals again.” 

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • Jonathan Kuminga will need to be versatile to see significant playing time as a rookie, Warriors assistant Kris Weems tells Grant Liffman of NBC Sports. Golden State experimented with Kuminga as a small-ball center during Summer League to see how well he could defend post players. “When you are going to draft a kid that size, and knowing that long term he is going to be bigger and stronger, he may grow a couple inches taller, his versatility because of his size gives him a chance to stay on the floor longer,” Weems said.
  • Marc Gasol came close to signing with the Warriors last summer and could emerge as an option later this season, according to Anthony Slater of The Athletic. Gasol has returned to Spain after being waived by the Grizzlies, but Slater notes that he’s the type of passing big man who performs well in Steve Kerr’s system and he could be tempted to return around midseason if Golden State is in the title hunt. The Warriors still have their taxpayer mid-level exception available, although using it would result in a significant increase in their luxury tax bill.
  • Darren Collison worked out for the Warriors earlier this month and remains an option for the 15th roster spot, but there’s speculation that he’s hoping for a training camp invitation from the Lakers, Slater adds in the same piece.

Warriors Notes: Collison, Roster Spots, Wiggins, Offseason Moves

Darren Collison is scrimmaging with some Warriors players as he auditions for a spot on the team, writes Anthony Slater of The Athletic. The free agent guard visited the team facility Wednesday and today for workouts, which have included Stephen Curry and Jordan Poole.

If Golden State does give the 34-year-old guard an opportunity, it will likely come as a non-guaranteed training camp deal, Slater adds. Collison retired after averaging 11.2 points and 6.0 assists for the Pacers in 2018/19, and he’s been an effective three-point shooter and a reliable ballhandler throughout his career.

The Warriors are planning to head into camp with their 15th roster spot and second two-way slot both up for grabs, according to Slater. Gary Payton II and Mychal Mulder will also be trying to make the team on non-guaranteed deals. Mulder is still eligible for a two-way contract, but Payton isn’t. The team could decide to start the season with just 14 players to reduce its luxury tax bill.

There’s more on the Warriors:

  • In the wake of a report that players in San Francisco won’t be allowed to attend home practices or games unless they’re vaccinated, Golden State’s main concern is Andrew Wiggins, Slater adds. Wiggins told reporters last season that he hadn’t received the vaccine and didn’t plan to unless he was forced.
  • The Warriors received an A-minus from ESPN’s Kevin Pelton for their offseason moves. Golden State was able to upgrade its bench without using its mid-level exception, adding Nemanja Bjelica, Andre Iguodala and Otto Porter Jr. on veteran’s minimum deals. Pelton also likes the addition of draft picks Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody, saying both should provide good value for where they were selected.
  • Golden State needs more scoring from Draymond Green and a stronger commitment to team defense from Wiggins, per Kendra Andrews of NBC Sports Bay Area. She identifies Poole and James Wiseman as two other players who need to improve to help the Warriors become a title contender again.

Darren Collison To Work Out For Warriors

Former NBA point guard Darren Collison will work out this week for the Warriors, league sources tell Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link).

Collison made a surprise retirement announcement in the summer of 2019, citing family and religious reasons. In his final NBA season in 2018/19, he averaged 11.2 PPG and 6.0 APG with a .467/.407/.832 shooting line in 76 games (28.2 MPG) for the Pacers.

There were reports that Collison might return with the Lakers or Clippers during the ’19/20 season, but nothing came of those rumors and he later said they were overblown. However, the 34-year-old reportedly worked out for the Lakers earlier this summer, signaling that he’s open to the idea of a comeback.

L.A. is on track to sign Rajon Rondo to bolster its backcourt, likely taking that option off the table for Collison, but Golden State makes sense as a possible suitor.

Although the Warriors have 16 players under contract, three of those players (Damion Lee, Mychal Mulder, and Gary Payton II) don’t have fully guaranteed salaries, and the team could use some reliable depth at the point behind Stephen Curry. For now, Payton, Jordan Poole, and two-way player Chris Chiozza are among Golden State’s best backup options.

Lakers Work Out Isaiah Thomas, Darren Collison, Mike James

Free agent guards Isaiah Thomas, Darren Collison and Mike James all recently worked out for the Lakers, who are looking for veteran help to fill out their roster, writes Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports.

None of the three veteran guards will definitely be signed, sources tell Haynes, and L.A. may decide to have a training camp battle for its final roster spots. The Lakers currently have 12 players with guaranteed contracts and plan to carry just 14 in the regular season for roster flexibility.

L.A.’s priority is finding a third point guard, according to Haynes’ sources, and the team may be in the market for another wing player as well.

Thomas, 32, is hoping to revive his career after dealing with injuries the past four years. He played just three games last season on a 10-day contract with the Pelicans, but says he’s fully healthy now and has been playing well in pro-am leagues. He joined LeBron James and Russell Westbrook for a workout Tuesday in Los Angeles, according to Haynes.

Collison, 33, made a surprise retirement announcement in the summer of 2019, citing family and religious reasons. There were rumors that he might return with the Lakers or Clippers during the 2019/20 season, but he later called them “overhyped.” He played 76 games for the Pacers in his final NBA season, averaging 11.2 PPG and shooting 40.7% from three-point range.

James, 30, finished last season with the Nets after leaving CSKA Moscow. He was part of the rotation in Brooklyn, playing 13 games and averaging 7.7 points and 4.2 assists in 18.2 minutes per night.

The Lakers are expected to move on from veteran shooter Jared Dudley, Haynes adds. Dudley is a free agent after playing 12 games last season.

Darren Collison: Rumors Of Midseason Comeback Were Overstated

After making a surprise retirement announcement during the summer of 2019, veteran point guard Darren Collison was said to be mulling the idea of coming out of retirement to join either the Lakers or Clippers earlier this year. However, Collison – who elected to stay retired – said during an appearance on the A Minute Til 6 podcast (video link) that rumors of a comeback were overstated.

“To keep it 100, they overhyped the whole thing,” Collison said. “I wasn’t even thinking about coming back. … Mentally, I just wasn’t in that right frame of mind. I’m still trying to work some things out in my life and trying to help the youth out as well. I always felt like after this season, yeah, I’ll assess everything else. But this season I just never thought about coming back.”

An appearance at a Lakers/Rockets game in early February alongside Lakers owner Jeanie Buss fueled speculation that Collison might want to team up with LeBron James and Anthony Davis. However, Collison said during his A Minute Til 6 appearance that he was just at that game to watch his friend Russell Westbrook in action.

Reports of Collison’s potential return persisted for weeks in January and February, so if he never seriously considered the idea, it’s odd that he didn’t squash those rumors at the time. Still, it wouldn’t have made a lot of sense for him to sign a prorated minimum salary contract after potentially passing up an eight-figure salary last summer.

Collison, who will turn 33 later this month, played well for the Pacers in 2018/19, with 11.2 PPG and 6.0 APG on .467/.407/.832 shooting in 76 games as the club’s starting point guard, so his retirement was unexpected. He said at the time that he wanted to dedicate more time to volunteer work and his Jehovah’s Witnesses ministry.

Based on his latest comments, it doesn’t sound as if Collison has entirely ruled out the possibility of seeking an NBA return at some point — if he does decide to come out of retirement, he’d be an intriguing option for teams in need of a veteran point guard.

Darren Collison To Remain Retired

Veteran free agent Darren Collison has decided to remain retired and is no longer considering an NBA comeback this season, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link).

Collison had been pondering a return to the court, with both the Clippers and Lakers heavily interested in adding the 32-year-old to their roster. Collison informed teams that the timing for his return simply isn’t right for him, Wojnarowski adds.

Collison last saw action with the Pacers during the 2018/19 season, averaging 11.2 points and six assists in 28.2 minutes per contest. He was seen at Staples Center for the Lakers’ game against Houston on Thursday with owner Jeanie Buss.

Collison holds career averages of 12.5 points, five rebounds and 1.2 steals per contest, spending time with New Orleans, Indiana, Dallas, Los Angeles, Sacramento and Indiana across his 10-year NBA career.

Although he won’t return to the league now, that doesn’t necessarily mean that Collison won’t make a comeback down the road, perhaps even as early as this summer, as Sean Deveney of Heavy.com wrote last week.