Philadelphia 76ers: Why not get in on the Darren Collison game?

(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /

While Darren Collison has expressed a desire to exit retirement for a deal with the Los Angeles Lakers or Clippers, his best destination is with the Philadelphia 76ers.

Los Angeles is a lovely place to live; the weather is great, they have In-N-Out Burger, and you know, the entirety of the entertainment industry.

If I was Darren Collison, a 10-year NBA vet who had already earned over $43 million since leaving UCLA, I’d probably want to call the city home too – heck I’ve earned exactly $43 million less than Collison since I left UCLA and I plan to make the move ASAP as well.

But just because Collison wants to live in LA doesn’t mean he has to play for an LA-based team, right?

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I mean it’s pretty much common knowledge that many, if not most, of the NBA’s premier players call Los Angeles home when their individual seasons come to an end – even our own Ben Simmons has been known to camp out in and around the City of Angels, maybe with a certain uber-famous on-again, off-again girlfriend?

In summation, where Darren Collison lives and where he plays basketball has basically no effect on each other, so why on earth is he limiting his potential NBA return to the LA teams and no others, especially when neither team has a perfect role for his particular skill set.

Mind you, I didn’t say Collison isn’t a fit with either team, as literally every team in the NBA could use a 6-foot-tall two-way point guard who shoots 40 percent from beyond the arc, but is there a defined role for DC on either the Clippers or the Lakers?

Maybe, just maybe, but you have to really squint your eyes to see it.

The Lakers already have a good backup point guard in Rajon Rondo. While the team could shift either Collison or Rondo to the starting five and allow the other a chance to run the second unit, it’s still hard to imagine the Lakers rolling with multiple reserve point guard in the postseason when it’s all but assumed that LeBron James is going to play the point BS-style when Frank Vogel‘s rotation shrinks.

And as for the Clippers? They too already have a sub-6-2 scorer coming off their bench, maybe the best one in the NBA. As fans in the 215 already know, Lou Williams is a walking bucket. He may not be much of a defender, much of a facilitator, or particularly conventional when it comes to naming his kids (Syx, really?), but it’s all but impossible to say that Williams doesn’t make a team better when he’s on their roster.

With fellow 6-foot-nothing bulldog Patrick Beverley locked in at the one, and the dynamic wing duo of Paul George and Kawhi Leonard hogging up a ton of Doc Rivers‘ offensive usage, would the Clippers really get all that much better with a third undersized guard? Would he even play come the playoffs?

No, if Collison wants to return to the NBA, earn a solid paycheck, and actually play a substantial role both down the stretch and in the playoffs, the choice is clear: He needs to sign with the Philadelphia 76ers.

As anyone who has watched a Sixers game this season, especially over the last four games can attest, the Sixers’ offense is putrid. It doesn’t matter if the team is up by five or down by five, when the clock ticks below two minutes in the fourth and the time starts to crunch, the Sixers are going to find a way to lose because they lack a defined ball-dominant scorer who can bring the W in for a landing.

It’s not hyperbole – okay, not too hyperbolic – to say Collison would instantly become the Philadelphia 76ers’ sixth, maybe even fifth-best player if he signed on the dotted line. It’s also pretty safe to say that Collison’s addition could help to fix a lot of the team’s issues, as he’s a beyond competent scorer, a solid defender at the one, and an even better facilitator.

Collison is also one of the best outside shooters in the league, well, not right now I guess, as he led all players in 3 point shooting percentage in 2016-17 with an impressive 46.8. Just for reference, only one player, Joe Harris hit over that mark in 2018-19, and only two, George Hill and Rodney Hood are above that clip this season.

Since Trey Burke took over for Raul Neto as the Sixers’ top reserve point guard, Brett Brown has experimented with all sorts of new lineups featuring the diminutive one. Brown has played Burke next to Simmons in a rim-running one-four combo, as a second-unit leader, and even in a closing lineup in place of Horford.

These lineups have had varying degrees of success, but it’s not hard to imagine just how much better these sets could be if you sub out a defensive non-factor like Burke out for Collison, a legit top-15 two-way guard.

In a way, Collison is like a fully formed version of his former Pacers teammate (and UCLA alum) Aaron Holiday, and if you’ve read this, you’ll know how high I am on Holiday.

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Look, I get it, with the money roughly the same, standard of living has to be taken into consideration when a retired player weighs their options on returning to the NBA’s marathon schedule but shouldn’t role play a similar, well, role? While the City of Brotherly Love lacks the beach, production companies, and a bevy of fantastic fast-food offerings, it does provide Darren Collison with the best opportunity to play a substantive role on a championship-caliber team. DC, save LA for the summer and take your talents to the Philadelphia 76ers.