The reason the “if” is in that sentence instead of the word “when” is because of a report that surfaced soon after from, of all people, former Laker Matt Barnes, who said on ESPN’s “The Jump” that Collison told him it’s not a sure thing he returns to the NBA at all:
Well that would certainly be a... negative development for the Lakers. Now, it should also be noted that this might simply be a leverage play to make sure that the Lakers try to sign him sooner rather than looking at other options, but if it’s true, it’s not great for a team that could really use another point guard.
And Collison isn’t just any point guard. He’s not an All-Star or anything, but at 31 years old, he was set to get at least eight figures this summer by most estimates, and getting someone that can both dribble with their head up, makes plays, pass, score and play a semblance of defense would be incredibly helpful for a Lakers team that has guards who can do combinations of all of these things, but not one single guard who can do all of them individually.
It sounds like Collison will likely be making his decision soon, and most estimates have pegged him as set to make it at some point around the NBA All-Star break, with the majority of reports only really acknowledging the Lakers and Clippers as options for him. If the Lakers wanted to sign him, they’d have to cut someone from their roster, as they currently have the 15-player maximum already.
If Collison decides not to head to the Lakers, the team could just stand pat, or there are a few other options on the buyout market. Dion Waiters reportedly could soon be let go by the Memphis Grizzlies, and ditto for the Philadelphia 76ers and Trey Burke.
The LA Clippers are also letting former Laker Isaiah Thomas go, but he would seem to be unlikely to return to either the Lakers, or a team with LeBron James after how their first tenure together went. Thomas also would significantly weaken the Lakers’ defense, a strength for this team.
We also know that the Lakers are expected to give J.R. Smith a workout.
If there is one thing listing those names illustrates, however, it’s that the Lakers’ options to improve this roster outside of Collison are fairly bleak. Maybe they’ll just totally stand pat, but if they do decide to try and fix what stands as their biggest weakness, it would really help if Collison un-retired and picked them.