Darren Collison

Free Agency Notes: Collison, Suns, Jerome, White, Cap Room, Joseph

Free agent guard Darren Collison didn’t play in the NBA at all last season and has appeared in just three games since 2019, but he hasn’t given up on earning a spot on an opening-night roster this fall. According to Chris Haynes of TNT and Bleacher Report (Twitter link), Collison worked out last week for the Suns and had a “great showing.”

The Suns, who entered free agency with eight players under contract, have reached deals with seven free agents, so they project to have a full 15-man roster. However, Haynes says the club continues to be “aggressive” in seeking role players.

One way Phoenix could open up a roster spot is by waiving or trading Isaiah Todd, whose inclusion in the Bradley Beal trade seemed to be more about Washington moving off his guaranteed 2023/24 salary than the Suns specifically targeting him. Still, any form of salary dump will be costly for a Suns team that projects to be well over the tax line and doesn’t have any future draft picks left to trade.

Here are a few more notes related to free agency:

  • The Warriors withdrew their qualifying offer to Ty Jerome, while the Nuggets did the same with Jack White, per RealGM’s transactions log. Reports on Saturday indicated that Jerome had reached a contract agreement with the Cavaliers and that White is poised to sign with the Thunder. With those qualifying offers no longer on the table, the two players are no longer restricted free agents, clearing the path for them to freely join their new teams as unrestricted FAs.
  • Once coveted for its power to attract a top free agent, maximum-salary cap room no longer has the cachet it once did, according to John Hollinger of The Athletic, who notes that the Rockets were the only team this summer to use a significant chunk of cap space to sign a marquee free agent (Fred VanVleet) to a huge, multiyear deal. Most other teams with room have used it for trades, renegotiations, or smaller (and/or shorter-term) signings. As Hollinger observes, the new contract extension rules in the 2017 CBA have resulted in fewer stars reaching the open market, with 2019 standing out as the last big summer of free agent movement.
  • Warriors guards Chris Paul and Stephen Curry are 38 and 35 years old, respectively, and have each dealt with injuries over the years. The addition of Cory Joseph, who agreed to a one-year deal with Golden State on Sunday, will help ensure that those veteran stars get the rest they need during the regular season, according to Dalton Johnson of NBC Sports Bay Area, who takes a closer look at what Joseph will bring to the team.

Pacific Notes: Lakers, Collison, Monk, Leonard, Wall

The Lakers‘ five additions in free agency were targeted for speed, defense and shooting, writes Kyle Goon of The Orange County Register. New head coach Darvin Ham is determined to bring a fresh approach to a team that finished in the bottom third of the league in both offensive and defensive rating last season. All five players who were introduced at today’s press conference talked about how they will blend into that system.

“I think I can fit on any team,” said former Warrior Juan Toscano-Anderson. “I think I can guard one through five. I’ll do whatever it takes to win, and when I say whatever, I mean it. I’ll dive over scorer’s tables. I’ll rebound. I’ll do whatever it takes.”

Along with a renewed emphasis on defense, L.A. hopes its free agency moves will provide increased spacing for its star players. Ex-Spur Lonnie Walker is coming off a season where he connected at just 31.4% from three-point range, but he vows to be better.

“Last year, you can look at the percentages, but I kid you not: Leave me open, we’re going to see what’s happening,” Walker said. “I’m honing into what I got to get better on, and I’m not just strengthening my weakness but I’m strengthening my strengths as well. So, I’m ready to show everyone what I’m about.”

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • Free agent point guard Darren Collison worked out for the Lakers again today, tweets Brad Turner of The Los Angeles Times. Collison, who was at a mini-camp with the team last month, is interested in returning to the NBA at age 34.
  • Malik Monk‘s long friendship with De’Aaron Fox played an important role in his decision to sign with the Kings, according to Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee. Monk and Fox have been friends since high school and they were backcourt partners at Kentucky. “They speak all the time,” a source told Anderson. “They’re still in their college group chat, so they speak every day. Those guys are real brothers, so I’m excited for them both.”
  • Clippers star Kawhi Leonard hasn’t been cleared to play 5-on-5, but he continues to make progress in his return from an ACL injury, ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk said on “NBA Today” (video link). Newly signed John Wall will compete with Reggie Jackson for the starting point guard spot, Youngmisuk adds.

Lakers Notes: Irving, Draft, Mini-Camp

If the Lakers have a realistic chance to land Kyrie Irving, they should brush aside any concerns about his reliability and make the move, argues Bill Oram of The Athletic. L.A. has been mentioned as a potential destination for Irving if his contract talks with the Nets remain at an impasse. While that could be a negotiating ploy from Irving’s camp, there was a report Wednesday that he has spoken to LeBron James about teaming up again.

Oram believes head of basketball operations Rob Pelinka should jump at the chance to add Irving, who could spark a quick turnaround for an L.A. team that missed the playoffs this season. Oram admits there’s a “buyer beware” component to Irving, who has only played 93 total games in his three seasons with the Nets because of injuries, a commitment to social causes and his stand against vaccine mandates, but he says the Lakers can’t afford to pass on his talent.

There’s more on the Lakers:

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.