The Los Angeles Lakers are signing free agents Darren Collison and Stanley Johnson to 10-day contracts using hardship exemptions, the team announced. Johnson, an Anaheim native, isn’t an especially notable addition beyond the depth he’ll bring at forward. Collison, however, has been the Lakers’ white whale for several years now.
The former UCLA star that once led the NBA in 3-point percentage was set to become a free agent in 2019 when he surprisingly retired at the age of 31. Collison easily could have earned an eight-figure deal, and the Lakers, who played the 2019-20 season with LeBron James at point guard, surely would have been interested even at that price considering the cap space they had left after Kawhi Leonard chose the Clippers.
Collison ultimately elected to remain retired that offseason but considered a return in February. The Lakers were again interested, and Collison even attended a game alongside team owner Jeanie Buss. He still didn’t return, though, and the Lakers went on to win the 2020 championship without him. Collison largely remained out of the spotlight after that, though he worked out for the Lakers this offseason. Finally, after years of speculation, he will wear a Lakers uniform.
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Collison spent two years at UCLA playing alongside Russell Westbrook, and his 3-point shooting should make him a decent fit alongside Westbrook and James if he’s still in playing shape. Now he’ll have a chance to prove that he is, and the Lakers will get closure on the role player they’ve been chasing for the past several years. Collison and Johnson are expected to be available for the Lakers Saturday against the Nets.