Openly Gay Jason Collins Wonders Why No NBA Team Has Signed Him

The NBA’s first openly gay player can’t find a job, and Jason Collins can’t quite figure it out. When he came out, Collins received almost universal support from around the L, but so far, no team has taken a chance on the free agent big man. Per the NY Times: “When Collins, 34, a 7-foot center, wrote his coming-out cover story for Sports Illustrated — ‘my declaration,’ he said — he proudly spoke of having been called a pro’s pro for his team-first, lunch-pail style. Never a star, he has nonetheless had a career spanning 12 years and 6 teams after four years at Stanford, where he played with his twin, Jarron. ‘That’s how I still consider myself,’ he said Wednesday in his first interview since N.B.A. training camps opened last month without his participation. ‘Sure, I’ve picked up another title. But I feel that’s always who I’m going to be — that person who sets a good example, who represents the sport and is an asset to my team and a role model for other players.’ The question Collins has to ponder is why he has not been signed as a free agent. Is it because he is at best a marginal player with modest career statistics (3.6 points and 3.8 rebounds a game) nearing the end of his career, one who would cost more than a younger player based on the league’s collectively bargained pay scale? Or is there something more sinister at work related to the new role he would play? Collins did not dismiss the latter notion or address it. ‘You don’t want to speculate — I don’t go there,’ he said while picking at a bowl of greens in a cafe in the Brentwood section of Los Angeles, near where he lives. But while conceding he would be at the lower end of a team’s depth chart at this stage of his career, he admitted being perplexed because, he said, ‘I feel there are players in the league right now that, quite frankly, I’m better than.’ As teams firmed up their rosters in late summer, Collins’s agent, Arn Tellem, received inquiries from at least three teams in the market for a reserve big man who understood positional defense. One of them, the Detroit Pistons, settled on Josh Harrellson, a third-year player who cost the Pistons more than $500,000 less than the nearly $1.4 million Collins would have earned — the minimum salary for a player with his experience. Several league executives said the number of teams interested in Collins had shrunk because of new penalties for teams exceeding the luxury tax threshold. […] Collins acknowledged that signing younger players would be more prudent financially, but he asked how experience could be discounted in such a competitive sport.”