Through the first few months of the season, the Los Angeles Lakers and L.A. Clippers have each emerged as among the top teams in the NBA. That has seen them receive some healthy balance from their rosters beyond the star power that is leading the charge. That has seen them keep their eye on adding former Finals MVP Andre Iguodala, but there is another veteran player that each team could add in the near future that has strong ties to the Los Angeles area.
In the months heading into the 2019-20 season, both Los Angeles teams made some significant moves that have helped reshape the course of their respective organizations.
The Lakers have pushed their way to the top of the Western Conference standings behind a hot start to the year, winning 26 out of their first 33 games. That has seen the charge led by their 1-2 punch of a resurgent LeBron James and star forward Anthony Davis, who is making a strong case for Defensive Player of the Year.
Meanwhile, the Clippers haven’t been far behind them in the second overall spot in the Western Conference as their strong core group added arguably the two best two-way players in Kawhi Leonard and Paul George to the mix. There have been some bumps along the way, but they have quickly meshed well playing with arguably the deepest roster in the league.
However, both teams have room to add more veteran talent to push them forward towards contending for an NBA title this season and possibly further than that. One player has suddenly pushed his way onto the radar for both teams as a possible addition.
Darren Collison mulling comeback, eyeing Lakers and Clippers
This past offseason, veteran point guard Darren Collison made the surprising decision to retire from the NBA after 10 seasons at age 31. It was a move that caught the entire league off guard as he was expected to garner plenty of interest in free agency.
However, it appears his retirement could be shortlived, as Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN is reporting on New Year’s Day that Collison is considering making a return back to the league this season. The two top teams in consideration are the two Los Angeles teams as the frontrunners, which is likely due to their championship hopes and connection to the city having attended UCLA and grown-up nearby in Rancho Cucamonga.
Collison has put together a respectable career, showing the ability to excel in both a starting and bench role. In his 10 seasons, he has averaged 12.5 points and 5.0 assists while shooting 47.1% from the floor and 39.4% from beyond the arc. He’s just two seasons, removed from his best shooting campaign where he shot 46.8 percent from 3-point range and 49.5 percent from the field while averaging 12.4 points.
Where will Darren Collison land?
Once Collison can prove that he is in shape to play in the NBA once again, hence why the potential February return date, he will draw keen interest from both LA teams.
Between the two, the Lakers hold the stronger need to add more playmakers to their backcourt, especially the point guard position that can steady the offense. They currently rely heavily on Avery Bradley, Rajon Rondo, and Alex Caruso. Still, there has been a notable difference with the second unit when LeBron James isn’t in the game, and Collison will help in the ballhandling area and more scoring.
Meanwhile, the Clippers are believed to be aggressively looking to add talent to their roster coming off the bench. Their situation is a bit different, but the team holds more formidable depth at the point guard spot with Lou Williams and Patrick Beverley heading that group.
What is intriguing is that Collison has experience playing for both head coaches Frank Vogel and Doc Rivers in his career. According to Bobby Marks of ESPN, the two teams would first need to clear a roster spot while both have the prorated minimum salary. The Lakers also have a $1.75 million disabled player exception DeMarcus Cousins’ potential season-ending ACL injury.
An important detail to know is that Collison isn’t expected to be ready until after the trade deadline next month, which could impact their respective pursuits of Iguodala. It’s hard to decipher at this point where Collison will wind up, but if he does pursue an NBA Comeback, expect both LA teams to push hard to land him.