Brooklyn Nets officially sign Jason Collins for rest of the season

Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

When's this media circus expected to start? With little hoop-la, the Nets officially announced they had signed Jason Collins, the first openly gay player in a major US sport, to a contract for the rest of this season.

"He’s been to the Finals twice," said Jason Kidd, Collins teammate on two Eastern Conference champions in New Jersey. "He understands that time of year."

"It's cool," said Collins Saturday morning. "Thank you to the Nets organization, coaches and players."

The Nets did not indicate if they had offered Collins anything beyond this season. They could have offered him a team option for next season, with, full, partial or no guarantee. Collins is 35 and in his 13th year in the NBA.  In his two tours with the Nets, he has played more than 500 games in New Jersey and Brooklyn uniforms.

His No. 98, chosen to honor Matthew Shepard a gay student tortured and killed in 1998, has been the NBA's most popular jersey over the past three weeks.  The Nets decided against selling his jersey in the Nets Store unless and  until he was signed for the rest of the season.  No indication Saturday morning that the team has put No. 98 on sale at the NetsStore.

He was signed to a 10-day deal in Los Angeles three weeks ago, then renewed 10 days ago.  In limited minutes, he's proven himself a solid defender with an ability to set screens on offense. At the time of the signing, many predicted a "media circus," with the signing overwhelming the Nets' pursuit of a higher playoff seed. The feared spectacle never emerged as Collins emphasized his love of the game and his teammates simply shrugged off his sexuality.

The Nets will have to make another personnel decision this weekend. Jorge Gutierrez first 10-day contract expires Sunday. The Nets will need to sign him to a second 10-day deal or release him.

"He’s been to the Finals twice," said Nets coach Jason Kidd, who along with Collins won Eastern Conference titles for New Jersey in 2002 and ’03. "He understands that time of year." - See more at: http://blog.northjersey.com/nets/1550/1550/#sthash.6RgE8xHv.dpuf
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