Darren Collison has agreed to a three-year, $16 million contract with the Sacramento Kings, as first reported by Brad Turner of the LA Times. The contract will be fully guaranteed. Reports also say that part of the inducement to Collison was the promise of a starting role.
Obviously, a starting spot was never on the cards for DC on the Clippers, nor should they have considered paying him over $5.3 million per season with the potential to enter next offseason with some cap room even after re-signing DeAndre Jordan. So if this is was the market for Collison, he was never coming back to the red half of Staples.
This could turn out to be a bit of addition by subtraction for the Clippers. Collison has always been somewhat miscast as a point guard, even in a backup capacity. Among points who appeared in at least 50 games playing 20-plus minutes a night, Collison was 12th of 41 in terms of looking for his own shot, averaging around 1.26 shots for every assist chance he generated per NBA.com’s SportVU data. (NBA average for those 41 PGs was 1.02 shots/assist chance while CP3 ranked 5th lowest, averaging only .79 shots/assist chance). Unsurprisingly then, the Clippers offense tended to become stagnant when he entered. Additionally, he always seemed good for at least one head-scratchingly bad turnover per game because of his occasionally inexplicable decision making.
On the other end of the floor, it wasn’t good. Collison ranked 71st of all 84 NBA points guards with a staggeringly bad -3.23 Defensive Real Plus/Minus last season, as he struggled both to contain dribbles and to fight over or through screens in the pick-and-roll.
The main area where the loss of Collison might turn out to be a blessing in disguise is the minutes, especially the ones in the fourth quarter, which are now available to J.J. Redick. Though Doc Rivers liked to play dual-point-guard lineups down the stretch, the strategy was never entirely convincing and ended up with a lot of dribbling and poor spacing.
The Clippers are now in a better position to add some legitimate defensive size at the wing positions. Matt Barnes was really all they had to defend the Kevin Durants of the world credibly, and while Redick is game, if he remains the second best wing defender, that’s probably an issue. Perhaps Reggie Bullock or rookie C.J. Wilcox will step into the void. The Clippers have also been rumored to be courting Paul Pierce or Luol Deng as possible wing upgrades. Either player would likely arrive via sign-and-trade, which could include Jamal Crawford (and his partially guaranteed contract) going the other way.
The team’s plan for Crawford is another decision to be made. Despite the size difference, JC is an extremely similar player to Collison in terms of shot-seeking and indifferent defense. While it would have been a definite mistake to bring both players back, perhaps Crawford will stick around to continue to fill the instant bench-offense role he’s patented over his career if he’s not used as a trade chip to land a bigger name wing.