I am just going to come out and say it. Jason Collins is the best unsigned big man right now.
C’mon son, you say? Crazy, you say? Perhaps. But I say yeahhhhhh, sonnnnnnn crazy like a fox.
Collins has a career average of 3.6 points and 3.8 rebounds per game over his NBA career. Those statistics are not setting the league on fire. However, Collins has always been a rugged post presence and gladly uses his 6 fouls to fill up the stat sheet in ways that his limited offensive skills do not. He has a wealth of playoff experience. He has also shot 70% from the free throw line in the last few seasons, so you do not have to bench him to hide him from the “Hack-A-Shaq” defense. Yes, I know that Big Aristotle has been retired for a few years now, but none of the TV talking heads have come up with a better name than “Hack-A-Shaq”. Collins has never been a locker room cancer. He knows his role and embraces it with a smile. Lastly, his salary should be barely over $1million for the season.
Let’s compare him to the available players on the market. The first candidate is Eddy Curry. He is a talented, but overweight center with a faulty ticker (both literally and figuratively). Curry is definitely not one of those players who makes you believe that he would be playing basketball if it paid like a pizza delivery guy. Curry has been overweight and undermotivated for his entire career. Let’s leave him on the big man scrap heap where he belongs.
Next up, we will evaluate Joel Przybilla and Darko Milicic. Przybilla has been an injury prone player his whole career and played up to the low expectations that basketball fans had for him at Minnesota. Przybilla has averaged 7.0 points over his 14 year career, but he has never played for a championship contender. Further, he has only played a full 82-game season an amazing 1 time for his whole career. Milicic’s woes have been well documented over the years, so no need to dwell on them any further. He was a victim of the hype machine that continues to follow European stretch fours and fives. He never should have been drafted in the lottery (#2 pick in 2003). Despite Joe Dumars’ brilliant career as a Hall of Fame player and successful tenure as general manager, he ensured that Detroit would not build a dynasty by picking Milicic over Melo, D-Wade, Chris Bosh and David West. Don’t accuse me of having crystal clear vision because I have the benefit of hindsight. The Milicic pick was a “WTF?” choice at the time among the baller community. I watched Melo destroy guys during March Madness. I knew that he was going to be a star. Nuff said, I have already given Darko more ink than his career deserves.
If you look at power forwards, there is only one who merits discussion — Lamar Odom, affectionately called “Lam Lam” by his Kardashian in-laws. You knew that it was curtains for a power forward from Queens who allowed himself to be called “Lam Lam” on national television. It is like getting dropped off at the North Pole without a compass or cell phone. There was no way back.
Teams for the past few seasons have tried to manage the media circus that comes with having a Kardashian family member in the locker room. Even if you ignore the bizarre season that Odom had in Dallas, it is hard to ignore the fact that his Mavericks’ teammates showed him no pity when they took his playoff bonus money. Odom earned a roster spot with the Clippers and then developed an unconfirmed crack habit. As a GM, I think that you’d rather have Odom take some time to get his life together rather than have to worry about him trying to steal the team’s championship trophies or medical supplies from the training room for crack money. C’mon, you know that everyone would suspect him as soon as the owner’s Rolex goes missing at the team facility. Okay, poor joke. I am sorry. Seriously speaking, you cannot have a guy who is unstable in your locker room.
So where does this lead? Back to Jason Collins. He works hard. He could mentor your team’s young bigs on the fundamentals of post defense. He’s no Big Fundamental, but he can get the job done. He would sell thousands of jerseys and put fans in some seats as you know the LGBT community is extremely well-capitalized. He would generate a lot of good press and Collins is intelligent enough to handle the spotlight. Signing Jason Collins is good basketball and good business.
PSA: GMs of the Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers, NY Knicks, and Cleveland Cavaliers, I hope that you are reading this blog.