The calendar has just flipped to 2020 and fans have already been greeted with a Los Angeles Lakers rumor that could make a major impact on the 2019-20 NBA season.
Darren Collison, the 32-year-old veteran guard who shockingly retired, is considering making a comeback and has his sights set on his hometown Lakers or Los Angeles Clippers.
Should Collison follow through with his comeback plans and decide to sign with Lakers, he could provide a big boost for a bench unit that has often looked disorganized when LeBron James isn’t on the floor. As a veteran floor general, Collison can help provide the structure and stability that helps generate open looks for teammates. He averaged 6.0 assists t0 just 1.6 turnovers per game for the Indiana Pacers last season, which was the best assist-to-turnover ratio in the NBA among starting point guards.
Given how top-heavy the team’s roster is, if their bench unit can stay even with their opponent on most nights, that’s a big win for Los Angeles. Collison’s brand of mistake-free basketball — which would limit fast-break opportunities for opponents — would be a nice fit with that goal in mind. Currently, the bench ranks 24th in the NBA in turnovers per game.
Furthermore, head coach Frank Vogel is already familiar with Collison from his days with the Pacers, which may give the Lakers an advantage should both of the Los Angeles teams pursue Collison.
Collison could also be an excellent floor spacer should Vogel decide to play him alongside either James or Davis. While Collison only averaged 11.2 points per game last season, he hit 40.7 percent of his three-pointers and ranked in the 94th percentile as a spot-up shooter according to Synergy. For a Lakers team that is currently ranked 20th in the NBA in three-point percentage despite focusing on adding shooters in 2019 NBA free agency, Collison could give them a serious threat from behind the arc.
Of course, the ideal role for Collison should sound familiar — organizing the offense while providing floor spacing — since that’s what Rajon Rondo is supposed to be in town for. However, Rondo’s pound-the-rock style at the point guard position isn’t generating results as their Offensive Rating is significantly lower when he’s on the floor (though that could be a symptom of James being out) and the Lakers bench is in the middle of the pack in points scored.
Turnovers have also been an issue and Rondo coughs the ball up at a rate 63 percent higher than Collison does. Additionally, Rondo’s three-point shooting — which Vogel raved about in Summer League and looked excellent to start the season — has cooled off significantly, dropping from 44.8 percent in November to 34.4 percent in December.
Should Collison come on board, it could create competition with Rondo due to them playing the same role, but a few ruffled feathers may be worth it if the Lakers can land an upgrade like him that would give them a better chance at a championship.
That said, signing Collison isn’t a no-brainer. While he can run an offense, he can struggle to create his own shot and that’s something the Lakers could sorely use when James isn’t on the floor. It may be more important to search for a Derrick Rose-type player who can both run an offense and generate their own looks.
Collison is also a bit undersized at just six feet tall, which means opponents will try to take advantage by forcing him onto larger guards and wings.
That said, the benefits of adding Collison outweigh the negatives, particularly since the Lakers would be signing him as a free agent and not have to part with any assets to acquire him. They would have to free up a roster spot by cutting ties with someone but if Collison decides he wants to be a Laker, he could give them a major boost.