The Brooklyn Nets plan to sign center Jason Collins to a contract extension that will keep him on the team through the rest of the season, ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk and Marc Stein reported Tuesday. Collins will reportedly sign the deal Saturday when his second 10-day contract with the team expires.
The Nets made Collins the first openly gay player in NBA history — and in the history of America’s four largest men’s sports leagues — when they signed him to a 10-day deal on February 23. Collins signed a second 10-day deal when that expired.
Collins has been exactly what anyone would have expected him to be, averaging about 10 minutes and grabbing about one rebound each game. He’s scored all of five points in eight games. But he’s filled a defensive role for the Nets in a way that will never show up on the stat sheet (and Collins’ worth in his 12 NBA seasons never has), and he’s helped bolster the frontcourt since the Nets dealt Reggie Evans ahead of the trade deadline.
Collins has said all along that he wants the focus to remain on basketball, not his sexuality. And for the most part it has: the media frenzy people feared around the first openly gay player, whether it was Collins, Michael Sam, or someone else, simply never materialized. Far from distracted, the Nets are playing some of their best basketball of the season. They’re 7-2 since Collins came aboard and are now just three games out of first place in the Atlantic Division, in line for the Eastern Conference’s sixth playoff seed.