Darren Collison and the Los Angeles Lakers have more “will they/won’t they” energy than most sitcom couples, and it all started when the veteran guard — hasn’t played an NBA game since abruptly retiring at age 31 in 2019 — was reportedly 50/50 on coming out of retirement to join the Lakers in 2020.
But after a rollercoaster recruiting saga that saw the team host Collison for a visit at a game like a hyped college prospect, seating him courtside with governor Jeanie Buss and letting him tour the locker room and talk to Anthony Davis, Collison ultimately opted to stay retired, later claiming that he just wanted to watch a basketball game. We stan a relatable king.
And with the Lakers going on to win a title anyway, that was thought to be the end of the dalliances between the two parties... until this summer, when the Lakers hosted Collison for a workout before seemingly rejecting him this time, opting to sign Rajon Rondo.
But Collison has continued to be seen working out at the Lakers’ facility with assistant coach Phil Handy, and according to Anthony Slater of The Athletic, that may not just be about staying sharp. Because even though Collison also went to work out for the Golden State Warriors, he may still be hoping to get a shot with the purple and gold (emphasis mine):
But nobody, in that brief of a glimpse, was comfortable predicting whether Collison would be anywhere near the player who averaged 11.2 points and 6.0 assists as a starting point guard on a Pacers team that made the 2019 playoffs. If he was, he’d be a slam dunk in that 15th spot. But if he is (or even if he isn’t), would he be willing to take a prove-it non-guaranteed camp invite? There’s also buzz he might be eyeing a Lakers camp invite.
With their recent addition of Cam Oliver, the Lakers currently have 18 players on their 20-man maximum training camp roster, so they could invite at least two more to camp. They also have just 13 guaranteed contracts, so they still have room for two more players on guaranteed deals (even if they will reportedly leave at least one such spot open for the buyout market). But long story short, they could indeed bring Collison to camp if they wanted to let him have a longer audition to make the roster on a guaranteed or non-guaranteed deal.
Will that happen? It remains to be seen. Until Collison signs elsewhere, the possibility will be there, but the Lakers are also clearly surveying all their options, including working out another vet who — like Collison — is trying to make a comeback in Kenneth Faried. If the Lakers want backcourt insurance, Collison may not be a bad option, but the team has a crowded backcourt already, featuring ballhandlers like Russell Westbrook, Talen Horton-Tucker, Kendrick Nunn and Rondo, not to mention how much LeBron James will have the ball. Their spots may be better used elsewhere.
Still, given their longstanding connections to Collison, as well as Westbrook’s own relationship with him from their two years as teammates at UCLA, it’s not impossible to imagine the Lakers giving Collison one more shot to join the team with a camp invite. As training camp approaches on Sept. 28, expect the front office to continue to evaluate their various options for those final two camp slots before finalizing any additions, but between these whispers and just simple critical thinking, there are plenty of reasons not to be shocked if Collison at least ends up in camp in Los Angeles.
Or maybe he won’t. After all, these two sides excel at getting exceptionally close to each other without ever actually coming together, so until pen is put to paper, don’t count on anything. We’ll find out what happens on the next episode of “As the Lakers Turn (The End of Their Roster Over).”