Wizards' future doesn't include Jason Collins

Wizards' future doesn't include Jason Collins
April 30, 2013, 9:15 am
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The inevitable question will come when free agency opens on July 1: Did Jason Collins' revelation that he was gay have any impact if the Wizards don't re-signing him?

The short answer will be no.

Collins, who will be featured on the May 6 cover of Sports Illustrated, is a free agent after coming to the Wizards in February in a trade with the Boston Celtics.

Collins only appeared in six games, starting two, in Washington. He never played more than 17 minutes in any game, went scoreless four times and never contributed more than two points.

When the Wizards’ season ended April 17 without a playoff berth for the fifth year in a row, it was clear then that bringing the 7-footer back never was a priority. The Wizards were a top 10 defense. It's the offense, where Collins doesn't provide much help, that struggled. 

"You can't get seven, eight new players every single year," Wizards GM Ernie Grunfeld said a week ago about roster turnover. "Having said that, it doesn't mean we won't have two, three, four new players. It just depends on what opportunities are out there for us."

In particular, the Wizards need more scoring from the four spot, where Nene starts. With his injury history, finding a reliable scorer to help fill the gaps is imperative. Currently behind Nene are a host of offense-challenged power forwards in Trevor Booker, Chris Singleton and Jan Vesely. All are under contract for next season. 

Ideally, the Wizards would find a trade partner for at least one of their three backup power forwards, retain either Garrett Temple or A.J. Price for the backcourt, retain Martell Webster at small forward which could mean Cartier Martin leaves as a free agent, and not retain Collins and Leandro Barbosa.

Barbosa also was part of the deal with Boston but he never suited up because of a knee ligament tear. The Wizards made the deal to get rid of Jordan Crawford, who was becoming a locker-room distraction. 

None of Collins' teammates or coaches in Washington knew that he was gay, and neither did Grunfeld. While they all spoke glowingly of him, before the announcement and since, only in a worse-case scenario would the team pursue bringing him back. 

The Wizards' starting center is Emeka Okafor and the first player to relieve him is Kevin Seraphin. With 7-foot Nene at power forward, the team has enough size. All three are under contract for next season.

Besides, using three-guard lineups is becoming the norm in the NBA which has lessened the demand for marginally skilled 7-footers.  Collins, however, earned $854,389 for his 12th NBA season and would be a relatively cheap pickup. 

So where does that leave him?

Collins definitely would not end up in a place like small market Oklahoma City. Aside from the Thunder not having a need, religion, perception and how a player would be received by the community plays a major role in how that front office constructs the roster. The same could be said for the Utah Jazz and to a lesser degree the San Antonio Spurs. Neither team would admit something like this publicly, but inside NBA circles this sentiment is common knowledge. 

Teams don't like distractions with all the media coverage that'll come with Collins' next game, but the NBA doesn't have the militaristic culture of the NFL. Injuries happen. A GM somewhere will be looking for one more big-bodied post player -- especially an experienced one -- who can give them minutes off the bench and use fouls to get his team over the hump.

As long as he wants to continue playing, Collins likely will see a 13th season in the NBA. It just won't be in Washington.