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Reports: Jason Collins drawing interest from Nets, Clippers

Jason CollinsJason Collins has been out of the NBA since the completion of the 2012-13 season. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Jason Collins made headlines last May when he announced he was gay, becoming the first openly gay active male athlete in the four major sports.

But it's been almost nine months since Collins made that announcement to Sports Illustrated and the 35-year-old still remains unsigned despite being in shape and a 13-year NBA veteran.

All of that might be about to change, though. According to ESPN.com, Collins recently worked out for the Brooklyn Nets and the team is giving "strong consideration" to signing him to a 10-day contract:

No final decision has been made, but sources said the 35-year-old was auditioned by the team in a private workout earlier this week to assess the state of his game after last playing with Washington almost a year ago.

Nets general manager Billy King did not attend the workout, but said he was told Collins is "in shape."

PHOTOS: Jason Collins over the years

The Nets could use a big man after losing Brook Lopez for the season and failing to trade for a center at Thursday's trade deadline. At 25-27, the Nets currently sit at No. 6 in the Eastern Conference, three games behind Atlantic-leading Toronto, but very much in the playoff hunt.

Brooklyn has had significant success of late playing small ball -- moving Kevin Garnett to center and Paul Pierce to power forward -- winning 15 of its last 21 games after a disastrous start to the season. But with the playoffs on the horizon, the team's front office likely realizes it will need some size to compete against the East's powers. Outside of Garnett, the only other big men on the roster are Mason Plumlee and Andray Blatche.

While both Plumlee and Blatche have been solid offensive contributors off the bench, neither has the experience or defensive prowess possessed by Collins, a 7-foot 255-pound pivot who has defended some of the best centers in the league over the past decade. He provides little on offense (career 3.3 ppg scoring average), but his skills as a defender, screener and playoff veteran make him an attractive option to size-needy contenders.

In fact, the Nets aren't the only playoff-bound team reportedly with interest in Collins. From Frank Isola of the New York Daily News:

Tim Bontemps, the Nets beat writer for the New York Post, adds some details about Collins' chances of catching on with the Nets and Clippers:

Collins' decision to announce to the world that he is gay last May has paved the way for other athletes to do the same. Two weeks ago, SEC Defensive Player of the Year and Missouri defensive end Michael Sam announced he was gay. Sam is expected to be selected in May's NFL draft, which would make him the first openly gay NFL player in history.

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