After the NBA trade deadline passes on Feb. 6, teams like the Los Angeles Lakers will turn their attention to the buyout market to help finalize their roster before the playoffs.
And one of the names they’ll be most focused on is Darren Collison, who will likely be coming out of retirement after the deadline passes. The Lakers and the Los Angeles Clippers are seemingly his top and only two options.
Collison would be an instant help for whatever team he chooses to go to, but the Lakers especially would be improved by the addition. Last season, Collison averaged 11.2 points and 6.0 assists per game while shooting 40 percent from three. He’s also a great ball-handler and consistent defender, which is everything the Lakers need off the bench.
Collison was already a Clipper once, playing 80 games in the 2013-14 season, but league insiders say he and coach Doc Rivers did not part on good terms, presumably making the Lakers his first choice.
Despite this, a source close to Collison says this prior experience won’t remove the possibility of him rejoining the Clippers, even if the Lakers would become frontrunners because of it:
The source close to Collison, however, says his prior experience with Rivers would not preclude him from rejoining them.
The Clippers could also make great use of Collison as right now, their only true point guard is Patrick Beverly, who is hardly the shooter or playmaker that he is. Having him come off the bench would add depth to one of the deepest teams in the NBA.
However, the Lakers getting Collison would be even more of an upgrade than if the Clippers did, as it would immediately erase one of the team’s biggest flaws. Right now, the Lakers don’t have a reliable ball-handler in the minutes that LeBron James isn’t playing and they often lose games in those minutes. Getting Collison would solve that problem while the Lakers focus on getting wing depth to go with it.
When the deadline passes, the Lakers roster will likely not be finalized. In fact, based on the asking prices teams have put on their players, it’s possible the Lakers don’t make any moves at all before then. That means they’ll be entirely reliant on the buyout market and Collison in order to improve their already championship contending team.