With the NBA trade deadline in the rearview mirror, the Los Angeles Lakers still don’t have the point guard help they coveted. They called about Derrick Rose, Spencer Dinwiddie and Dennis Schroder, but apparently those talks didn’t get very far.
Not all hope is lost, though. On Thursday, the Lakers’ brass invited free agent point guard Darren Collison to their game against the Houston Rockets. Prior to the game, Collison was seen having dinner with Lakers team governor Jeanie Buss and Lakers Senior Basketball Advisor Kurt Rambis.
Then, during the game, Collison joined Buss and Linda Rambis and their first-row seats, and was shown on the jumbotron so Lakers fans could make him feel welcome:
Darren Collison is sitting with Jeanie Buss at the Lakers game tonight. pic.twitter.com/DqUibRc44u— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) February 7, 2020
Not my best shot but that's him in the grey hoodie. Jeanie is to the left and those are her group's seats. pic.twitter.com/2if9dcC9w7— Harrison Faigen (@hmfaigen) February 7, 2020
While Collison downplayed his visit to Staples Center, telling Dave McMenamin of ESPN that there was “nothing to it,” McMenamin’s colleague Ramona Shelburne confirmed that it was an informal free agent meeting:
A source told ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne the Lakers were “recruiting” and that Collison plans to discuss over the next week with his family and agent whether to return to the NBA.
Still, the Lakers kept their lips sealed tight when asked about Collison’s presence at the game, as well as his potential fit with the team.
“I don’t know,” James said. “I don’t like talking fantasy basketball. I’ve never been one to talk fantasy basketball. We’ll see what happens, but I don’t really have too much to comment on that.”
The irony in that comment is that James literally participated in a fantasy draft earlier in the day and to his credit, he did really, really well.
Frank Vogel was similarly mum, claiming to reporters that he didn’t notice Collison being shown on the video board, while Anthony Davis didn’t have many thoughts on it, either.
“I think I saw (them show him),” Davis said. “I had no reaction.”
Their reaction is understandable, since the Lakers would have to cut one of their current players to make room for Collison, something any teammate would be unlikely to endorse publicly.
Collison shockingly retired from the NBA in June to devote more time to his family and his faith. But in January, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reported that Collison was mulling a return to the NBA after the Feb. 6 trade deadline, and his preference is to play in Los Angeles. Collison grew up an hour away from L.A. in Rancho Cucamonga.
While there’s no telling what Collison can offer the Lakers offer sitting out the first half of the season, his combination of ball-handling and shooting is exactly what Frank Vogel needs to maximize the talent in his second unit. Collison is a career 39.4% 3-point shooter. For context, Rajon Rondo has shot 31.5% from 3 for his career.
With limited options on the buyout market, Collison may be the Lakers’ best chance at getting better. Hopefully Collison chooses them if he actually decides to make an NBA comeback.