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Jason Collins undecided on future, leaning toward retirement

Jason Collins won't give away his future plans yet, but the 13-year NBA veteran appears to be leaning toward hanging up the jersey.

Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Longtime NBA big man Jason Collins remains undecided on his future, but the league's first openly gay player may be leaning toward retirement, reports Marcus Thompson II of the Bay Area News Group. The 13-year veteran spoke at a forum in San Francisco on Monday night and discussed a variety of topics, including his declining athleticism.

While life after sports can be challenging for many high-profile athletes, Collins' opportunities as a public speaker and community outreach member will be unique as an openly gay former athlete. Collins "can lead professional athletes from the dark ages and inspire a population of hurting young people," Thompson writes.

That's certainly a noble cause, and one that may have more meaning to Collins than suiting up in the NBA one last time. Obviously he could still help people even while playing, but it's possible he simply wants to focus his effort elsewhere. Collins stopped short of announcing his actual retirement, however, and it's possible he waits until later in 2014-15 to sign with a team, similar to how he joined the Brooklyn Nets midway through last season.

Retirement still seems most likely, given Collins' comments and an apparent lack of interest around the league. While the veteran is highly respected as a person and locker room presence, even he seems capable of admitting he's no longer the caliber of performer most teams demand at the NBA level.

"I used to be able to jump and touch the top of the white square behind the rim with ease," Collins, 35, told the crowd of nearly 600 Monday night at San Francisco's Castro Theatre for the Commonwealth Club's latest Inforum conversation.

"As the years go by, you watch your hand go lower and lower on that square. Father Time is undefeated against us all. ... I'm really grateful for my Stanford degree now. On the other hand, I can still dunk."

Collins has always loved basketball, though, and his presence around the game certainly won't end simply because he retires. Collins is considering making a move to coaching or front office work after hanging up his jersey, according to Thompson, and his influence around the sport as an ambassador for the LGBT community will remain substantial.

And while money often plays a factor in these things, Thompson reports that Collins will likely make more than $2 million in endorsements (including Nike) over the next year. That's more than any team would presumably offer the big man to suit up next season.

Collins has appeared in 735 games over 13 seasons with the Nets, Hawks, Celtics, Grizzlies, Timberwolves and Wizards. He averaged 3.6 points and 3.7 rebounds per game, and was a key contributor on the 2002-03 Nets teams that reached back-to-back NBA Finals.