There’s been countless hours and thousands of words spilled on the Lakers pursuit of Darren Collison. Podcasts! Articles! Video breakdowns! Darren Collison would help the Lakers. I can’t wait until Darren Collison is on the Lakers!
His showing up last week at Staples Center was a huge social media affair that went viral. There he was, sitting next to Jeanie Buss. It does not take a rocket scientist to know that Collison was there to talk about a return. He had several conversations, I’m told, with the key folks in the organization he’d need to talk to in order to see what was on the table.
Here’s the thing, though Darren Collison is retired. Not a free agent whose in the process of continuing his career. Retired. And he’s going to stay that way, apparently. There’s an old saying about carts and horses that applies here, I think.
After mulling over those conversations, he’s decided he’s not going to return to the NBA. After those conversations at Staples happened, Matt Barnes said a text message exchange with Collison revealed that the point guard was “50/50” he’d come back at all. Looks like that number was very real — and maybe underselling his desires to stay out of the league, if anything.
It is what it is. I wish Collison good health and continued success in retirement. I’d have loved to have had him on this team — even if I had some concerns about a player coming back out of retirement, after not having played NBA basketball in 10 months, to be a high contributing rotation guy. I don’t doubt he could have done that, but I did have concerns.
Don’t get me wrong, I’d have happily lived with those concerns. The Lakers have a real need and Collison would have helped fill it — if not filled it entirely. Losing out on that stings.
So, here the Lakers are. They have some things to figure out, honestly.
I saw the Lakers in-person in San Francisco vs. the Warriors on Saturday and they were about as disinterested in playing high level basketball as I’m sure it looked on your TV. On the one hand, I don’t blame them. The Warriors are not a good team and the Lakers are. A certain mindset of “do enough to win and get the hell out of here” is a perfectly reasonable attitude to have. Mission accomplished.
That said, the Lakers have not been at their best for a little while now. And when you view the effort vs. the Warriors through the prism of the loss to the Rockets the game before, there’s a bit more to chew on. Add in the long going trend of the second unit giving up leads only to have the starters have to come back to restore order, there’s even more to be concerned about — even if that concern can be tucked away in a corner, hidden by the standings and the team’s place in them.
Am I worried? Yes and no.
There’s always context to these things and the difficult part is trying to wade through it all to come to the right conclusion, to figure out which way to lean. This organization has been reeling in the wake of Kobe’s death. His passing has also come at a time in the season when teams often need a break and a recharge of their batteries. Mid-January into the February All-Star break are known as the season’s dog-days for a reason.
That said, this team does have some structural issues that are right there in plain sight for everyone to see. There’s a reason the team made the calls it did at the trade deadline and looked at the types of players they did. There’s a reason they were linked to Collison and that things got to the point they did with him before he decided to stay out of the league. The Lakers front office (and, I’d bet, beyond just them and down to the coaches as well) know the deal here; they understand where the deficiencies are.
There’s two games until a much needed break, though. And while I hate to kick this can down the road, it seems that’s all there is to actually do at this stage. Unless the Lakers make a move for a different player (or more) who are currently without a team — which is possible and there are reports out there (more on that later) — this is the roster we’re going to see and it’s the one that’s going to have to find a way to compete in the playoffs.
But that’s a conversation for another day. For now, look forward to the end of the week when we all get some time off. I know the players are.