When NBA center Jason Collins announced he is gay in a Sports Illustrated column last spring, his agent, Arn Tellem, added a telling thought. “My only fear was that the announcement might influence his impending free agency,” Tellem wrote, saying that he asked Collins to delay the announcement until after he had signed a new contract and had job security.
Nearly nine months after Collins’ announcement, the 35-year-old NBA veteran remains unsigned. But that may be about to change. ESPN.com reports that the Brooklyn Nets are strongly considering signing Collins to a 10-day contract after the center conducted a private workout in Los Angeles to assess the state of his game. Nets general manager Billy King acknowledged the workout, saying that Collins is in shape. “We’re going to look to add a guy that we feel will help us,” King said, adding that Collins is one of several free agent centers the team is considering.
Other reports indicate that the Los Angeles Clippers may also be interested in signing Collins. Frank Isola, a sports reporter for the New York Daily News, tweeted that the Nets and Clippers are interested in Collins; Tim Bontemps, the Nets beat writer for the New York Post added that Clippers coach Doc Rivers, who coached Collins with the Boston Celtics, has an appreciation for the center.
If Collins makes the Nets or Clippers roster, he will become the NBA’s first active openly gay player. Collins’ decision to publicly come out while still an active player in a major sport paved the way for other athletes to come out as well. Missouri defensive end Michael Sam, the SEC player of the year, announced he is gay earlier this month, ahead of the NFL draft. Sam is expected to be selected in the draft in May, becoming the first openly gay player in NFL history.