Back in February, when it became clear that the Lakers didn’t have the requisite assets to make an impactful trade at the trade deadline, Darren Collison was the apple of every Los Angeles fan’s eye. The SoCal-born former UCLA point guard checked every box the Lakers were missing (the Clippers, too), and as a free agent, the Lakers could realistically sign him.
As a result, it came as no surprise when the team put on a full-court press to woo Collison, inviting him to a game, seating him next to Jeanie Buss and Linda Rambis, and even putting him on the JumboTron so that Lakers fans could make him feel welcome in their home arena.
Collison ultimately decided to stay retired, at least for the time being, depriving the Lakers of a lead ballhandler who is a career 39.4% 3-point shooter. Even six months later, the rejection still stings. What makes the pain even more acute is that Collison has recently resurfaced to say that reports of his return were greatly exaggerated. On the “A Minute til 6” podcast, Collison said he just wanted to watch the Lakers play the Rockets that night to see his good friend and former college teammate Russell Westbrook.
“I mean to be completely 100, they overhyped the whole thing. I wasn’t even thinking about coming back. I actually just came to the game to watch one of my good friends that was playing for Houston, Russ, he was playing against the Lakers at the time. I just wanted to come watch the game as a fan... When I went, it just so happened that they made this hoopla about me trying to play for the Lakers, they made it a big deal, but there was not one time where I was thinking about coming back because mentally, I just wasn’t in that right frame of mind. I’m still trying to work some things out in my life and help the youth out too. So I almost feel like after this season, yeah I’ll assess everything else, but this season I never thought about coming back.”
Darren Collison on the “Minute til 6” podcast says he never thought about coming out of retirement to join Lakers or Clippers. The veteran guard called it “overhyped” as he opens up about that period and his future.— Mark Haynes (@mhdachamp) August 3, 2020
I’m not buying it. Collison’s about-face contradicts reporting from no less an authority than Adrian Wojnarowski and appears to be a way to save face after essentially leading on the Lakers. Perhaps Collison isn’t sold on retirement permanently and wants to keep his relationships in tact for a potential comeback next season. Later in the podcast, Collison did say that he would like (or would have liked) to play with LeBron James or Kawhi Leonard, so the veteran point guard may still be keeping his options open.
Then again, maybe Collison just wanted to see Westbrook play. He certainly showed out that night for the Rockets.