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It's official: Brooklyn Nets sign Jason Collins to 10-day contract

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Jason Collins has become the first openly gay man to sign a contract with a U.S. professional sports team, agreeing to a 10-day deal with the Nets that will pay him a little more than $50,000 but mark him as a historic figure in American sports.

Billy King, in announcing the news, stated, "The decision to sign Jason was a basketball decision," said King.  " We needed to increase our depth inside, and with his experience and size, we felt he was the right choice for a 10-day contract."

The Nets GM confirmed that Collins will be available this evening when the Nets play the Lakers in Collins' hometown of Los Angeles. Collins will continue to wear No. 98 in honor of Matthew Shepard, who was murdered in anti-gay hate crime in 1998. Collins began wearing the number before he came out.

Under terms of the agreement, the Nets can extend him for a second 10-day contract, then at the conclusion of that, offer him a deal for the rest of the season for the vets' minimum.  Each 10-day will pay him a bit more than $50,000.

With Collins' signing, the Nets have 14 players on their roster. It's entirely possible he will be signed for the remainder of the season.  Collins' opponents averaged 0.64 points per play in 2012-13 when he was the primary defender, third-best in the NBA.

A league source called the signing Jason Kidd's idea and that Kidd, Collins' teammate for six and a half years, convinced others in the organization. The source said the Nets are "focusing on basketball and not on sexuality."  The move was approved by team ownership, including Mikhail Prokhorov, the league's first international owner who has called anti-homosexuality laws in Russia "a breach of international conventions on human rights and freedoms" and "an infringement on personal freedom."

Collins was a New Jersey Net for six and a half years, during which time the team were in the playoffs six times, winning the Atlantic Division four times and the Eastern Conference championship twice.

He came out in an interview last spring with Sports Illustrated and hoped to get back in the game, but was unable to get even a training camp invitation.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver released a statement, congratulating Collins, saying, "Jason told us that his goal was to earn another contract with an NBA team. Today, I want to commend him on achieving his goal. I know everyone in the NBA family is excited for him and proud that our league fosters an inclusive and respectful environment."