According to a report by Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports, Nick Collison is returning to the Thunder for his 14th and final season in the NBA. The 36-year-old power forward was drafted by the Seattle SuperSonics in 2003, and made the move to Oklahoma City with the franchise in 2008. He’s since become a fan-favorite and cult hero among Thunder faithful — often receiving praise for his hustle, toughness and outstanding head of hair.
Collison appeared in just 20 games for the Thunder last season, averaging 6.4 minutes in those contests. He flashed some old Hair Jordan abilities during a March 22 tilt with Philadelphia — dropping 7 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists and a block in just 8 minutes. He will presumably receive even fewer playing time next season, but his high IQ and knack for making the right play will make him a valuable emergency asset at the end of Billy Donovan’s bench.
While the on-court impact is limited, Oklahoma City retains perhaps its greatest locker room presence in the 13-year veteran. With a roster full of new faces — and the recruitment of Paul George in full effect — the Thunder will almost certainly experience growing pains early on. Having Collison around as a calming presence will far outweigh anything he figures to provide between the lines.
Many believed the 2016-17 campaign would be Collison’s last, but he breathed life into the possibility of a comeback during his end-of-season exit interview. Discussing his continued love for the game, he said:
“I still enjoy playing. I enjoy being around the group, I enjoy being on the team. I think I still have something to offer. The team has a lot on their plate, we’ll see what happens. I’ve been treated great here.”
Collison will end his career with the Thunder, and many (myself included) believe his jersey will be the first retired by the organization. Fans now have the opportunity to bid him a proper farewell, and hey — the Nick Collison Farewell Tour sounds like something special.