Source: Nets discuss adding openly gay Jason Collins

By on June 29, 2013

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Free-agent center Jason Collins is reportedly drawing interest from the Brooklyn Nets.

As if the Nets’ locker room wouldn’t be interesting enough.

A source confirmed Brooklyn has discussed signing free agent backup center Jason Collins, the first openly gay male basketball player.

Collins, 34, who revealed his sexuality in a self-scribed Sports Illustrated article, has reasons to feel comfortable in the Nets’ organization. He was teammates with Nets coach Jason Kidd for seven seasons in New Jersey, where they both played under current Brooklyn assistant Lawrence Frank.

Although the Nets may not need another big man, Collins’ “name was brought up,” said a well-connected source.

Collins has not played since announcing he was gay in April, so the next time he steps on the court will be a trailblazing event. And for the Nets, who have been stealing headlines lately by hiring Kidd and completing a blockbuster trade Thursday for Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, it’s a chance to represent a different kind of Brooklyn – which is home to a large gay and lesbian community.

“It’s certainly better than Utah or other communities that are not as cosmopolitan,” said sports marketing expert Marc Ganis, adding that such a move could help the Nets win over Brooklyn residents who remain angry about the way the Barclays Center was imposed on the neighborhood.

“It is a demonstration that the Nets are a socially progressive organization. To people who opposed it (the Barclays Center) it could be a relevant factor.”

Jason Collins, who marches in Boston's gay pride parade earlier this month, announces he is gay in a Sports Illustrated article in April.

Mary Schwalm/AP

Jason Collins, who marches in Boston’s gay pride parade earlier this month, announces he is gay in a Sports Illustrated article in April.

Collins, who advanced to two finals with the Nets, has bounced around the league as a backup since leaving New Jersey. He played last season with Garnett and Pierce in Boston, but was released before joining the Wizards.

Although the Nets haveinterest in Collins, there isn’t much room on the roster for another physical presence in the paint. Not only did the Nets draft Duke center Mason Plumlee on Thursday, their blockbuster trade evolved Friday morning so that they are keeping bruising forward Reggie Evans and dealing swingman MarShon Brooks to the Celtics, a source said.

Collins benefitted from an outpouring of support from the NBA after telling the world he was gay. Nets guard Jerry Stackhouse, who is a candidate to become the president of the Player’s Association, said in April that the league should make sure Collins gets a roster spot.

“”It might not be the best fit for their basketball team, but it’s a fit for where we need to go as a league. So if there’s ever a chance for the commissioner, who’s leaving in February, to step in and maybe push a button, I think that would be a good opportunity to do it,” Stackhouse said.

Collins would also add another dynamic to a complicated locker room. With the addition of veteran alpha dogs Garnett and Pierce, the Nets have five starters who all were the best players on an NBA team at one point.

Collins, a respected veteran, would be another voice of reason to assist a rookie coach.

With Michael O’Keeffe

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