Jason Collins informed Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld and Coach Randy Wittman of his plans to go public with his homosexuality before his first-person cover story was published Monday on Sports Illustrated’s Web site. But the barrier-shattering revelation will have no influence on the Wizards’ plans with Collins this offseason, according to a source with knowledge of the team’s thinking.
Bringing back a 34-year-old free agent big man with limited skills was never among the team’s priorities when the season concluded. That doesn’t mean that the 7-foot Collins will not return, but if he wants to continue to pursue his NBA career, it likely will be elsewhere.
Starting big men Emeka Okafor and Nene, and Kevin Seraphin, the primary backup for both, are all under contract next season. The team also has three other young and developing power forwards — Trevor Booker, Chris Singleton or Jan Vesely — though one of them could potentially be moved this summer.
ESPN.com’s Marc Stein spoke to 14 NBA teams to see if Collins would be back in the league next season. Six thought that he would, while the other eight felt that his age and lack of production would lead to his exit more than his announcement.
Collins has received considerable support from current and former teammates and others around the league after he became the first active openly gay athlete in a major professional sports.
In a telephone interview Monday, Wittman left the door open for Collins to return, but he seldom used Collins after the Wizards acquired the 12-year-veteran from Boston at the trade deadline. Collins appeared in six of a possible 30 games with the Wizards, contributing just four points, eight rebounds and 11 fouls, and he never played more than 18 minutes. The source said the team would look to retain him only if it is in desperate need for interior defense.
“Every time I get out on the court, I try to make plays to help the team win, especially on the defensive end,” Collins said after the Wizards’ season-ending loss April 17 in Chicago.
Collins was asked to reflect on his time in Boston and Washington.
“Boston, just a phenomenal experience. The whole organization. Definitely look back at it as a positive and coming here and it’s one of those things that happens where it’s a business side of basketball,” Collins said. “As a professional, you have to continue to keep playing and be ready when your name and number is called. I’m glad to be a part of the team – a starter – when we won consecutive road games [against Phoenix and the Los Angeles Lakers] for the only time this season.”
Collins also said that he thoroughly enjoyed living in Washington.
“I had a great time, just seeing the restaurants and sights and I was acting like a tourist. Anybody who follows me on Twitter or Instagram can see my pictures around D.C. And it was a good group of guys here. But obviously, this team has been hit hard with the injury bug, and I think the summer is a great time to get healthy and to come back next season and hopefully have everybody at full strength and be a playoff bound team.”