COLLISON IN STORE FOR ‘INTERESTING’ SUMMER
Eric Patten, Clippers.com
Darren Collison is already thinking about next year.
Collison, who signed with the Clippers last summer, will be an unrestricted free agent on July 1 after reportedly declining the player option on his contract. He said things could be “interesting” when asked about what lies ahead this offseason during his annual basketball camp Wednesday.
“Hopefully, we can get something together,” Collison said. “I want to be back, but I understand the business side of things. I know there are going to be some teams out there that are going to be wanting me. What I want is to be with the Clippers. That’s my main goal is to come back.”
Collison averaged 11.4 points, 3.7 assists and 1.2 steals and was an integral part of the Clippers’ best season in franchise history. He came off the bench for 45 games and played a multitude of roles, including starting in place of Chris Paul for a month and starting alongside Paul for 15 games in March and April when J.J. Redick and Jamal Crawford were sidelined.
When Collison chose to come back to Los Angeles, the place where he spent four years at UCLA and grew up just an hour away, he said it was for a chance to win. He said after winning a franchise-record 57 games and advancing to Game 6 of the Western Conference Semifinals, the Clippers have a chance to build something even better moving forward.
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“We have something special in these next couple of years,” Collison added. “We look at San Antonio, OKC, even Miami, they had the same core players for the last 3-4 years. I think that should be our goal. We should have the same players for these next 3-4 years. And I think that will give us a better chance to try and win it all.”
He took a month off immediately after the season, but has been back to work since.
“That’s the fun part,” he said. “I love this time of the season to try and get better as a player. This is actually better than being in the season sometimes because you really get to focus on yourself and find ways to get better.
“I want to be an extremely consistent knockdown, outside 3-point shooter and I just want to continue to build off of my defensive efforts last year. I think that was probably the biggest thing I was most impressed with was my ability to guard not only point guards but two-guards as well.”
Collison was at his best in March when the Clippers lost just once when he started and he successfully defended a number of “bigger” two-guards, including Gerald Green, Klay Thompson and James Harden. As for the shooting, Collison was one of fewer than a dozen players in the league to start at least 30 games and shoot 46 percent from the field, 37 percent from 3-point range and 85 percent from the line. He was second on the Clippers in 3-point percentage behind Redick and it’s an area he wants to bolster even more in 2014-15.
“You’ve got to constantly put focus on [shooting],” Collison said. “I was always known as a driver, so it took a lot of work to get where I’m at right now. I told myself I wanted to be the best 3-point shooter on the Clippers and I think this year I want to be the best period.”