Basketball | Jason Collins | Sports

Why Is Jason Collins Not Playing In The NBA?

Almost six months after Jason Collins' historic coming out, the player has yet to sign with a team in the NBA.

The New York Times has published an interview with Collins and poses the question everyone wants answered: Is he still a free agent because he is openly gay?

6a00d8341c730253ef01901baf355b970b“You don’t want to speculate — I don’t go there,” (Collins) said while picking at a bowl of greens in a cafe in the Brentwood section of Los Angeles, near where he lives. But while conceding he would be at the lower end of a team’s depth chart at this stage of his career, he admitted being perplexed because, he said, “I feel there are players in the league right now that, quite frankly, I’m better than.”

As teams firmed up their rosters in late summer, Collins’s agent, Arn Tellem, received inquiries from at least three teams in the market for a reserve big man who understood positional defense. One of them, the Detroit Pistons, settled on Josh Harrellson, a third-year player who cost the Pistons more than $500,000 less than the nearly $1.4 million Collins would have earned — the minimum salary for a player with his experience.

Several league executives said the number of teams interested in Collins had shrunk because of new penalties for teams exceeding the luxury tax threshold.

Brooklyn was thought to be a potential landing site because Collins spent roughly half his career with the Nets when they played in New Jersey, where he was a trusted teammate of Jason Kidd, now the team’s coach. But with the Nets’ soaring payroll, Collins would have cost the team almost four times his salary in taxes.

Collins acknowledged that signing younger players would be more prudent financially, but he asked how experience could be discounted in such a competitive sport.

In an article titled "What we're learning from Jason Collins" published this past National Coming Out Day, ESPN NBA writer Kevin Arnovitz is a bit more blunt in his assessment:

League trends aside, nearly a dozen execs say privately that the media glare that would come with a Collins signing just isn’t worth the distraction to most teams. Locker rooms are fragile places already and not always receptive to change, and though NBA players as a whole are extremely professional with the media, it’s not their favorite half hour of the day. The easier it is, the better. If he were a rotation player or better, the thinking goes, the cost/benefit analysis might produce a different outcome. 

In other words, the market for Collins would be bigger if he weren’t openly gay. 

Why do you think Collins remains an unsigned player?

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  1. Well so much for major sports teams rushing to sign the first openly gay player. Sorry Jason, time for a new career.

    Posted by: Terry | Oct 12, 2013 12:34:14 PM

  2. He's not a good enough or young enough player to necessarily outweigh the costs - including media focus on his being gay - to a team. If teams can get what Collins has to offer from a younger, cheaper player who's not an out gay man, they probably will. It's cost-benefit analysis at work; he'd need to be better, younger, and cheaper to be the best option.

    Posted by: Profe Sancho Panza | Oct 12, 2013 12:46:05 PM

  3. Because he sucks. The fact that he lasted a decade in the NBA with career averages of 3pts and 3rebs is a testament to his solid character, but he is simply not good.

    Posted by: Peter | Oct 12, 2013 12:59:15 PM

  4. I'm afraid he's just not very good.

    Posted by: dre | Oct 12, 2013 2:17:42 PM

  5. Why is he not playing? Because others are younger and better. As a gay man i would be ashamed if he got the job because of some "quota."

    Posted by: J Y | Oct 12, 2013 2:23:03 PM

  6. Who Cares...Just Another Black...

    Posted by: hinnes | Oct 12, 2013 2:41:14 PM

  7. uh..."the" gay athlete? really?

    Posted by: DannyEastVillage | Oct 12, 2013 2:45:36 PM

  8. NBA is an officially homophobic organisation so no surprise!

    Posted by: litper | Oct 12, 2013 2:57:24 PM

  9. He'll probably get picked up before the season starts. If this were five years ago he likly would have been picked up by now. Now he's in his 30s and his best years are way behind him. Having said that, someone will get injured and a team will need a 7-footer and Collins will be signed. IMO it's more about timing and not wanting to commit to an aging bench player too soon than anything else.

    Posted by: Roger | Oct 12, 2013 3:19:59 PM

  10. This article suggests that he's not being signed because he's gay then proceeds to outline why he's actually not getting signed (he's a mediocre player and not worth the money he demands). Why was this even posted?

    Posted by: Jmac | Oct 12, 2013 3:39:51 PM

  11. He destroyed his career by coming out. This was posted for the obvious reasons.

    Posted by: GM | Oct 12, 2013 4:01:41 PM

  12. It's simple .... he needs to raise his profile by dating Rob Kardashian and letting Kris handle his career. (tongue in cheek)

    Posted by: Third | Oct 12, 2013 5:02:56 PM

  13. Wow, can some of you let's create drama queens where we can realize the reason why he came out in the first place, and why no one is signing him, is because his career is over.

    Ask anyone who knows one ounce about basketball and they'll tell you the guy isn't that good at what he did. This has nothing to do with him being gay.

    Posted by: Michael | Oct 12, 2013 5:31:06 PM

  14. He's not getting signed because he's 35 and simply isn't good anymore.
    Plus,he was a journeyman for a reason.
    IMO,it has nothing to do with him being gay and everything to do with father time.

    Posted by: Zack | Oct 12, 2013 7:08:07 PM

  15. I know little about basketball - but the many of the articles that reporting his coming out also reported that he was an average player. When there are similarly skilled players that come at a significantly lower cost, why would he be chosen?

    Having said that, I think that any team that picks him up would generate positive publicity. He's articulate and personable - which would ease a lot of (probably unlikely) tensions inside and outside of the locker room.

    Posted by: Mitch | Oct 13, 2013 1:40:07 PM

  16. Why? Because he is past his playing prime and not good enough any longer. If any team saw he could contribute to their team, he would have been signed by now. People suggesting it is because he is gay are completely ignorant of sports in general and have their own bias. Shame on you.

    Posted by: Perry | Oct 13, 2013 1:44:57 PM

  17. @PERRY That's the sad truth. There really is no other reason. Collins is past his prime. He could always try the European leagues (Spain, Italy, etc.) or perhaps start a coaching career. But, again, Collins is past his prime and that's just the hard fact. Time to move on with your life, Jason.

    Posted by: jamal49 | Oct 13, 2013 2:43:27 PM

  18. he's old and teams would rather invest in younger players they can build up.

    Posted by: Cyberman | Oct 15, 2013 12:58:47 AM

  19. Let's see what will happen if a basketball player that is a better player or younger or both comes out and then doesn't get hired by a team.

    Posted by: Gabe R L | Oct 15, 2013 2:16:36 PM

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