Before Darren Collison was seen at Thursday night’s Lakers-Rockets game, the team had conversations with the point guard to check his temperature on retirement.
When word began to circulate recently that Collison had been working out and was interested in playing again in the NBA, Lakers forward Anthony Davis and Collison had a talk about his plans and how Los Angeles might fit into those, according to people who were not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.
There also were people in Collison’s camp that had been in recent contact with Linda Rambis, the executive director of special projects and a confidant of Lakers co-owner Jeanie Buss, according to those with knowledge of the situation.
That eventually led to the free agent heading to Staples Center on Thursday and visiting the Lakers’ locker room before sitting in seats next to Buss.
When his face was shown on the video board during the Lakers’ game against the Houston Rockets, the crowd cheered while Collison tried to put his hoodie over his head.
The plan is for Collison to meet with his representatives sometime next week, but he’s not expected to make a decision until after the All-Star game, which is Feb. 16 in Chicago.
The Lakers, who did not make a move before the trade deadline, will wait to see if Collison will select them.
“I’m never one to talk fantasy basketball,” Lakers star LeBron James said Thursday night when asked about Collison’s possible return to the NBA. “We’ll see what happens.”
The club had been in negotiations with the Knicks for forward Marcus Morris, but the two sides couldn’t come to an agreement.
The Lakers had been willing to offer Kyle Kuzma and Danny Green, but the Knicks didn’t like that.
The Knicks then countered with a deal centered around Kuzma, Avery Bradley, DeMarcus Cousins and at least one second-round pick, but the Lakers rejected that proposal.
Morris ended up with the Clippers, leaving the Lakers hopeful that they can land Collison.
Collison, Rancho Cucamonga native who attended Etiwanda High and UCLA, averaged 12.5 points, 5.0 assists and 1.2 steals over a 10-year career. He shot 85.3% from the free-throw line and 39.4% from three-point range.
The Lakers would have to waive a player if they signed the Collison.