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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Best Of What's Left

Almost all of this year's NBA free agents crop has now been signed. Of the few that remain, most have already finalised which training camp they're going to, and training camp contracts have already begun to be signed. However, these are far from being the only players in the world. A shedload of remaining NBA calibre players remain unsigned, as rosters across the whole of FIBA are being trimmed and cheapened due to the current economic thing that you may have heard about.

At the moment, including qualifying offers that are as-yet pending, there are 421 players in the NBA, out of a potential maximum of 450. That total does not include people who have committed to sign but that haven't done it yet (Garrett Temple, Rodney Carney, Curtis Jerrells, Russell Robinson, etc). Assuming (wrongly) that all of those 421 are here to stay, there are a maximum of 29 places left in the NBA; however, considering that many teams will run with 13 or 14 man rosters this year, and we're already averaging 14 players per team, the real amount is even less than that. As such, there's nothing but a scant few places available in the world's strongest basketball league, and several jillion candidates fighting for them. But this shouldn't stop them from fighting, and nor will it stop me from listing.

There now follows a list of the best of what's left of this year's free agency market. Listed in no particular order. Also note: there's lots of NBA calibre players that aren't in the NBA. But if they're not in this free agents list, then they're signed elsewhere. Check the other countries rosters to find them.


Point Guards

- Raymond Felton: The only guards who shot a worse percentage on inside shots than Raymond Felton last year were Derek Fisher, Luke Ridnour and Sebastian Telfair. The fact that Felton shot only 29% from three point range doesn't help, either. But despite Felton's perpetually inefficient scoring and his career PER of 13.7, the market for Felton shouldn't have been as slow as it has been. It's been non-existent, in fact. The only suitor, it appears, is the Bobcats. A report came out the other day, presumably based out of whispers from Felton's camp, that said a deal in the $7 million a year range would get it done. It probably would. But it's also too much. Felton looks like an inevitable candidate to re-sign for his one year qualifying offer, being as it is for a sizeable (and apt) $5.5 million.

- Nate Robinson: Robinson, too, looks like he's inevitably re-signing to a one year deal. For those unsure of quite how annoying the Knicks 2010 plan is, let me tell you that it's really, really annoying. And if it works out, it will be even more annoying. Not because of jealousy (although that will factor), but because this is no way to manage an NBA team. If you want to make salary cutting moves such as Jamal Crawford for Al Harrington, then feel free to do so. Good move, that one. And if you want to attach an asset to a bad contract just to shift it for more cap space, then that's fine too. But don't do ABSOLUTELY NOTHING AT ALL. That's not good for the game. And it's also really boring.

- Jamaal Tinsley: Tinsley sat out all of last year (without wanting to) and played only 39 games the season before. He is now 31 years old, and hardly viewed upon in favour by an NBA world that hasn't seen him for God knows how long. But despite all that, despite his startling inconsistency, despite his tendency to be around while crimes are being committed, despite his penchant for cheeseburgers and despite his jarring scoring ineffiency, Jamaal Tinsley is very talented. Not many people can pass and handle like he can, and not many point guards can rebound like him. He can defend pretty well, too. Of course, it doesn't help that Tinsley himself only plays like Jamaal Tinsley can once a week, but there's really a lot of talent there. This is a man who posted a 23 assist game in his rookie year. 23 assists. That's a lot of freaking assists. That one outing may have been 8 years ago, but it was also only 18 months ago that Tinsley was averaging 8.4 assists per game. That, too, is a lot of freaking assists. Miami were said to be interested, but other teams should be too. Unless he's gotten really fat or something.

- Tyronn Lue: Reports came out that said that Tyronn Lue had signed in Greece. Then reports came out that said that Lue had turned down the offer from Greece. Now, a new wave of reports have come out saying that Lue has signed in Greece. I don't know where we stand on that right now. Either way, the team that's trying to sign him (PAOK) only just staved off bankruptcy two months ago, so this doesn't seem like a long term solution. Boston were said to have been chasing Lue at one point, but that broke down, which is a shame because they could use him.

(EDIT: It's now been said, again, that the PAOK transfer fell through because Lue asked for too much money. PAOK have now signed William Avery instead. Slight difference.)

- Carlos Arroyo: Arroyo has been the compelling protagonist in a lot of made-up rumours about him this summer. From Chicago to Milwaukee, via the Clippers and the Sixers, lots of teams were said to have been interested in his services, sometimes with absolutely no truth to it whatsoever. So, always keen to get in on trends, I'll play along; according to an unnamed Western Conference executive, Arroyo is set to sign a three year deal with the expansion North Texas Fresh of the ABA. You heard it here first. You heard it here only. Because it's not true.

- Chucky Atkins: Atkins is not a free agent, yet. But he will be. Currently, Minnesota holds his unguaranteed contract, which has only $760,000 of $3,480,000 guaranteed. They'll probably hold onto it for a while - they essentially have a free player until December - trying to use him as a trade asset. There's lots of teams that need to save money this year more than Minnesota does. But wherever he ends up, Atkins will be a free agent at some point in the next three months, adding another veteran point guard to a market quite heavy in them. The difference is that this one can shoot.

- Earl Boykins: Boykins' year in Italy didn't go too well. At all. He was almost released at Christmas time for going home without permission. Nevertheless, he saw out the season with La Fortezza Bologna, but I don't think they're friends enough for a retrial. This puts Boykins back on the market for an NBA team, should they so choose. If you need a midrange jumpshot-shooting offense-first player with no three point shot and permanent defensive disadvantages, then this is the guy for you.

- Dan Dickau: The Celtics have apparently invited Dickau to training camp, which ones again craps on my stupid theory that no one ever goes to the German league and comes back to the NBA. I don't know why I say these things sometimes.

- Brevin Knight: Knight had a good bounceback season last year, after a few years of steady decline. Oh wait, no he didn't; he boasted a career low PER of 9.3. Never mind then.

- Mike Wilks: Perhaps against my better judgement, I have long advocated the virtues of Mike Wilks. He's only 5'10, which is reason enough to (in fact, as far as I can remember, the only guaranteed contract he ever had was when he was signed and traded to the Bulls; he was waived before playing a game). But he's not that bad. He's been in the NBA for bit parts of 6 years because he's all right. The question now is whether his knee - which he badly tore last October, causing him to miss all of last season - is good to go yet. If it is, then I advocate him as a signing. But only for the inactive list.

- Eddie Gill: Eddie Gill was in the NBA last year. You might have missed this, because it was quiet and pointless. But it happened. Gill was first in the NBA way back in 2000, and he's still going, because there's still Scott Skiles' out there who lobby for veteran point guards. Fun Eddie Gill fact: Eddie Gill scored the 6 millionth point in NBA history. So he'll always have a legacy.

- Jacque Vaughn: Vaughn is now 34, and hasn't been good since he was 26. Last year was particularly bad. It doesn't look as though there's anything left; your front office may disagree, however. You can't put a price on old point guards, apparently.

- Stephon Marbury: No.

- Sean Singletary: True to their policy of not spending a single dollar this offseason, the Bobcats declined Single Terry's team option and left him unrestricted. He has since remained unsigned. Terry played in summer league with the Pistons team, started every game, and did all right, but the Pistons have decided to sign Curtis Jerrells of Baylor to audition for the third point guard spot instead. This can't be good for Singletary's chances.

- Jason Hart: Memphis worked him out at one point; indeed, Memphis worked out every free agent guard at one point. They didn't sign him, though, instead deciding upon the infinitely more talented duo of Allen Iverson and Marcus Williams. The Nuggets ended last season with both Hart and Anthony Carter on the roster (presumably making Hart the shooter of the two), but they've decided they don't need both now, which is probably best. Hart was genuinely decent for the Bobcats back in 2004/05, but that was a while ago now. Since then, it's been mostly nothing.





Shooting Guards

- Ronald Murray: Murray has gone from overrated to underrated. He became overrated after his scoring explosion as a Sonic back in 2003/04; now, he's underrated after a fine season of 6th man scoring for the Hawks. The Hawks had signed Murray to only a one year, $1.5 million contract in the first place, and got great returns for their money, yet now they'd rather pay Jamal Crawford $20 million to do exactly what Murray did last year. It makes no sense, and what makes less sense is how few other suitors Murray has had. Memphis gave him a workout, but that's about it. And this isn't right. You mean to tell me that the Sixers can't crank off $2 million for one year of their untouched MLE to obtain a decent and sorely needed backcourt scorer? He's not the best shooter in the world, but he's better than Willie Green. At everything. He doesn't even have to affect your pretty desperate 2010 situation. This doesn't seem right. If someone signs Ronald Murray for the minimum this year, they'll be stoked with their returns.

- Rashad McCants: McCants has been for workouts with the Nuggets and Cavaliers, and has a camp invite for unguaranteed money from the Heat that he hasn't accepted yet. It's quite the fall for a man who was the second leading scorer on the Timberwolves two years ago on not-terrible efficiency. Last year, though, was a complete brainfart: McCants, always a chucker, chucked more than ever, and his efficiency tumbled off the charts. His defense still consists solely of fouling, and he's less and less interested in offensive continuity. If he calmed down and embraced a role similar to J.R. Smith's on the Nuggets, he might be all right. But it hasn't happened yet.

- Luther Head: A personal favourite of mine, Head would be ideally suited to a team with a superstar swing man, a team that needs a complimentary shooter and defender at the point guard spot, someone who doesn't have to do much dribbling ro playmaking. Think of him as kind of a crap Derek Fisher, with far less ball handling. Someone's got to need this, surely? Boston? Cleveland? No? Damn.

- Thomas Gardner: Gardner has a career PER of 2.4. However, he averages only 7.2 minutes per game for his career, so per 36 minutes that's a PER of 12.0. Which is better. [That was a joke.]

- Salim Stoudamire: The Bucks mercifully waived Salim aabout six weeks ago, and he hasn't been heard from since. Salim is another personal favourite of mine, but the thing with undersized shooting guards is that there's loads of them, and so even the good ones usually only have an NBA shelf life of about 3 years. Salim's had three years and then some, so I don't know where this puts him.

- DerMarr Johnson: DerMarr barely played last season, spending 8 games in the D-League in March and 11 games in Puerto Rico in May. That was it. He's now 29 years old, hasn't corrected the flaws he came into the league with, and is unsigned.

- Coby Karl: I'm telling you. Nuggets. This isn't a scoop; it's just an inevitability. Has your dad ever tried to get you a job at his company? Mine has. He even wanted me to take over his company for a while. It's the done thing. George Karl will do the same. Watch and learn.

- Greg Buckner: Like Chucky Atkins, Buckner is not a free agent. Yet. The Mavericks currently have a 17 player roster, and Buckner's contract is less than 25% guaranteed. This makes him an obvious cut should it come to that; however, there's no doubt that the Mavericks are whoring out this unguaranteed contract as a trade chip, along with those of Drew Gooden and Shawne Williams. If they can't get a deal done (meaning, if they can't get Philly to accept Matt Carroll in a deal for Sam Dalembert), then Buckner will be cut, at which point he is free to join pastures new. If he can find them.

- Kirk Snyder: Snyder was on this list last year. That's the only reason why he's on this one. Latest Kirk Snyder news: after months of being force fed his food and medication, Snyder has been found competent to stand trial. His bond was reduced from $500,000 to $25,000, and his lawyer said they could pay it, so presumably Snyder is now out of jail/hospital. If he is, he is to be fitted with a monitoring device and ordered to stay out of Warren County. No trial date yet.

- Morris Almond: Almond was with the Knicks for summer league, and scored quite highly. Then again, scoring was never his problem. It was expected that the Knicks would bring him in for summer league, but they've already started their summer league signings, and Almond wasn't one of them. So this remains up in the air.

- Juan Dixon: Dixon's days of masquerading as a scoring specialist look pretty much numbered. Last year he did his usual thing, and totalled 261 points on 259 shots. He's all right, but if your team is looking for a shooting specialist at guard, wouldn't they be better off with a player with a true three point shot?

- Bobby Jackson: Jackson's been slowing down for a few years, but he's not done yet. He can't get up and down like he once could (giggidy), but he can still score the ball off the bench. He sounds like a good fit for Boston, even if they don't really know it yet.

- Kareem Rush: For years, Kareem Rush has been signed to be a shooter. But this year, it hasn't happened. Has the league finally cottoned on?

- Mario West: West is supposed to be going back to the Hawks for training camp. Clearly Atlanta thinks he's going to show something that that he's kept craftily hidden for the last two seasons. I know he's really a decent defensive player and all, but West does extremely little on offense. At what point does that cancel out the defense?

- Keith Bogans: Bogans was traded from the Magic to the Bucks partway through last season, but they haven't re-signed him. However, since the Bucks currently only have three backup two guards (Carlos Delfino, Charlie Bell and Jodie Meeks) and three backup small forward options (Delfino, Walter Sharpe, Joe Alexander, Luc Richard Mbah A Moute), they surely could use one more.

- Damon Jones: Jones has always been a good shooter, despite all the huge gaping flaws in his game and his excessive swag. The league always needs catch and shoot players, and Jones is one of the best ones left. So why is no one signing him? Well, because they have no reason to. Just know that he's there if you want him.

- Anthony Roberson: The Bulls did the inevitable and waived Roberson in mid-July, after Gar Forman had spent summer league cussing him out for how bad he was. Good times. Roberson is unsigned and unheard of, although Jack McClinton called him "A-Robe" in a Tweet the other day, which was strangely fun. He's still a manslut.




Small Forwards

- Sasha Pavlovic: Any day now, Pavlovic will be waived. And when that happens, he'll probably get a new contract fairly quickly. This is because he has a good reputation, and not because he has a huge degree of skill. I don't want this piece to be too PER-centric - and it kind of gets like that near the bottom - but Pavlovic's career PER is 9.0, and his highest in any season is 12.1. That's crap. The man may have wanted a 6 year, $35 million contract back in the day, but he's worth roughly the minimum. Let's hope no one outbids themself for him.

- Desmond Mason: Mason was one of those "if only he can develop" a jumpshot players for a long time, but those days are long gone. Mason never did develop a jumpshot, and has lost whatever fledgling one he had. He's now a bit part player, a defensive specialist with occasional post offense, whether he wants to be or not. Larry Harris' decision two years ago to give him a 2 year, $10.3 million contract after back to back seasons of 10 PER was pretty stupid at the time, yet now that the contract has expired, Desmond can't even get the minimum. The Thunder have ruled out re-signing him. Tough times.

- Wally Szczerbiak: The days of Wally Szczerbiak being able to play as a big guard are probably over; he was always slow for the position, and he's not gotten any faster. But Wally is still good at the only thing he was ever good at - shooting - and that's not going to change either. He should catch on somewhere, even if Denver decide against him.

- Gerald Green: Green didn't do anything last year to change his reputation. He jumped a lot, scored a bit, and gave back even more at the other end. That said, as flawed as he still is, he's also still good enough to be in the NBA, and he's still only 23. It's surprising that someone hasn't taken a chance on him yet. As reclamation projects go, you could do worse.

- Ime Udoka: There's a rumour that Udoka is to return to the Blazers as a training camp invitee. If he does, then things are looking pretty bleak for him, because the Blazers already have Martell Webster, Travis Outlaw and Nicolas Batum at the small forward position. Udoka is 32, so he's old, but not THAT old, and while he didn't have a very good season last year, his comparatively short NBA career might be good news for his longevity. I'm reaching here, but you can see my point. Probably because I'm not wearing any trousers.

- Ronald Dupree: Dupree is going to go to camp with the Utah Jazz, rightly deserving of his place in the NBA once again. It might not last long, though, because the Jazz are on for their biggest ever payroll by miles. And they won't want to spend on a 15th man unless they have to.

- Rob Kurz: Who was it who wrote that article about Rob Kurz potentially being the Cavaliers missing piece? Yeah. No. He might not even join them, reputedly now favouring the Nuggets instead.

- Bonzi Wells: Wells wants to join the Heat, but no one has said if the Heat want Wells to join them. Every year, Miami seems to obtain a small forward, someone to further guarantee that Dorell Wright never sees the court. This year, they've already gotten Quentin Richardson, and so they don't really need another. They didn't even need Quentin. But must that stop them? (Also, how bad has the Heat's offseason been? If you want to convince Dwyane Wade to stay, don't just rest all your Stan Laurels in the 2010 basket. Do something. Spend some tax. Get some players. Richardson doesn't count. Do what Toronto did. Try and do it better than they did, obviously, but follow their lead. Be proactive, not reactive. You're not holding the cards right now.)

- Linton Johnson: Johnson is to go to camp with Orlando, who have built themselves a nice veteran bench. However, there's not much in it for Lint; Orlando doesn't really need him, because they already have Matt Barnes. And they don't even really need Matt Barnes. So before the ink is dry, someone could still swoop in and give Linton a better option. Probably.

- Patrick Ewing Jr: The Knicks still haven't signed him, and they're carrying a very full roster now. Can't be good news for Pat.

- Sun Yue: The Knicks are reportedly going to be signing Sun Yue. Don't worry, though. You didn't miss out. He'll be a free agent again six weeks time. He's all yours then.

- Joey Graham: After 4 years of up-and-down medicrity, Graham is now out of a job. Speaking of....

- Stephen Graham: He's unsigned as well.

- Ryan Bowen: Look at it this way. Bowen never had any skill. So he can't have lost any, can he?





Power Forward

- David Lee: Lee is either seconds away from re-signing to a one year deal, or he isn't. It depends on who you read. Either way, in a different market, this guy's rocking a five year contract from someone right now. If this was last year, he might have gotten $65 million. It's been a bad year.

- Stromile Swift: Stromile Swift is a far better player, on both ends, than many people seem to give him credit for being. He may not be the most adept at learning the playbook, and he's not able to bast the world's most svelte back-to-the-basket game. But he makes good things happen. He has a career PER of 16.1, for God's sake, and even though last year was a nothing year for him, he's not even 30 yet. It's not like he's lost it all. It was as recently as the 2007/08 season that Swift was a useful scorer and shot blocker off the bench. And it was 18 short months ago that he had one of the more underrated dunks of the decade:



Someone should sign him. Unless Swift really did fall off that much at age 29, they'll be grateful that they did.

(Tyrus still bites on all fakes, by the way.)


- Darius Miles: On the power forward list for the simple reason that he's not the athlete that he was, Darius remains unsigned, which seems both fitting and awkward considering the furore that surrounded his signings last year. Memphis achieved their goal and stiffed Portland, and Darius achieved his goal and got paid. Everyone's a winner, except Portland. And except Darius, who got done for DUI.

- Mike Sweetney: After summer league, we know he's still alive, and we know he had a bag of skills back in the day. Do we really need any more than that? (Note: don't say yes. Even though the answer's yes, don't say yes. I don't want to hear it.)

- Donyell Marshall: Charlie Villanueva told me that he'd keep me posted on Donyell Marshall's situation. True story. I'm not sure I believe him, but he said it anyway. Marshall is apparently considering multiple offers, but the fact that he remains unsigned so late in the day would suggest that none of the offers are particularly brilliant.

- Andre Brown: Isn't it about that time that Andre Brown appeared on someone's training camp roster? I've never been entirely sure of what he's done to deserve it, but it's become an annual thing, so let's not be disappointed here. Someone make it happen. In four out of the last five years, Brown has at least a training camp roster, and dammit I want more. No man should have to fight so hard for a meagre 599 NBA minutes.

- Ruben Patterson: The last full year that Ruben Patterson played in the NBA was his best. As a member of the 2006/07 Bucks, Patterson set career highs in points per game, rebounds per game, assists per game and field goal percentage, scoring 14.7 points a night on 55% shooting and putting up a PER of 18.5. Since then, though, his NBA career has seen only 20 more games and one unguaranteed minimum salary contract. This isn't befitting of a man of his talent and playing resumé. But then again, he is a 34 year old convicted rapist. So it's swings and roundabouts.

- Paul Davis: Davis claimed on Millionaire Matchmaker that his next contract would be for 5 years and $35 million. If by that, he really meant "I'll be getting a workout with the Heat next offseason," then he was right. But that's all he's gotten.

- Shavlik Randolph: Randolph has worked out for the Heat, as they continue to search for the piece that will keep Wade there in 2010. That sounds like his best bet right now, if not his only bet. Even though Portland unrenounced him after Paul Millsap's QO was signed, there's no room for him there after Jeff Pendergraph and Dante Cunningham were brought in.

- Othello Hunter: Hunter played on the Warriors summer league team, but only because the Hawks didn't have one. He is expected to return to the team, even though they don't really need any more. Hunter has a long way to go before he lives up to any Brandon Bass comparisons, but he's all right.

- Malik Rose: Rose's PER has gone downwards or 7 consecutive seasons, as his salary increased for seven straight seasons. The Spurs got this one a bit wrong back in 2002.

- Melvin Ely: It's about time that people realised Melvin Ely was crap. After his one good year in Charlotte, he got an unfounded reputation as a good young post player, and.....no. He doesn't rebound, is a highly inefficient scorer, and is already 31 years of age. He's unsigned for a reason, and the reason is because he's not very good. Even the Hornets, who have struggled for frontcourt depth all season long, realise this now.

- Michael Ruffin: Like Rybo, Ruffin never had anything to give, so he can't exactly have lost it. After sitting needlessly on the Bulls cap for most of last season, he was traded to Portland as necessary filler in the highly worthwhile John Salmons deal, where he actually played a bit for no real reason. Portland then decided to draft and sign two power forwards, which kind of pissed on Muffin's chips. Ruffin is unsigned, and Ruffin is going to stay unsigned, because not even the Bulls need him any more.

- Maceo Baston: Baston will reportedly go to camp with the Pistons. But he shouldn't. Because if he does, he'll lose. The Pistons don't need him, and he doesn't need the Pistons. It's not a good fit at all. Baston's 3 year NBA redux has been quiet; he's appeared in only 89 games over those three seasons, for a total of 725 minutes. But even at age 34, he's still got some talent left. And going to the Pistons just to be waived in deference to Jonas Jerebko doesn't seem like the best use of it. Could Charlotte not ask?



Centres

- Courtney Sims: Sims is one of the better American centres not currently in the NBA, if not the best. I haven't heard about him signing anywhere for training camp, but he has done these last two years, and he really ought to. If your team signs him, he may well make your regular season roster.

- Chris Mihm: The centre crop can't be very strong when Chris Mihm is the second available free agent centre that I could think of. Mihm used to be good, but he has spent several years recovering from a severly injured ankle. He's still suffering from it, too; Mihm featured in scrub minutes of 16 games for the Lakers last season, after missing all of the 2006/07 season and playing only 23 times in 2007/08, but after being salary dumped to the Grizzlies he underwent yet another ankle surgery. Mihm is done until further notice, and seems like an inevitable candidate for a training camp spot and accompanying fluff pieces in October 2012.

- Jermareo Davidson: The Warriors waived Davidson, and later signed Mikki Moore. I have no idea why they did this. Then again, I have no idea why they do most things. Davidson is about to turn 25 and has made no obvious improvements, but he's on the fringes of the NBA nonetheless, so a return to the D-League looks inevitable.

- Brian Skinner: Brian Skinner is an overlooked player. He has the worst hands in showbusiness and all the polish of a dart player's scrotum, but he gets things done on the defensive end. Last year was no different; he averaged 4.0 rebounds and 1.0 blocks in only 16 minutes per game. His offense has always been poor, and always will be, but he'll block shots and rebound. Teams need this. Teams need Brian Skinner. But no team has Brian Skinner. And Brian Skinner is probably regretting opting out of a guaranteed $1.2 million right now.

- Aaron Gray: Gray looks like a certainty to re-sign with the Bulls for their guaranteed $1,000,497 qualifying offer, but he and his agent continue to search for a two year deal. Good luck with that.

- Calvin Booth: Calvin Booth played 1206 minutes in 2003/04, and has played a total of 1,341 minutes since. He sported a PER of 39.8 with the Timberwolves last year, but that's what 1 minute sample sizes can do to a man. Booth is now 33, and has not done anything since that 17 minute, 2 point, 0 rebound, 10 block outing back in January 2004.

- Jarron Collins: Jarron Collins is no worse than Jason Collins. In fact, I'd even say he was slightly better. Both suck, of course, but Jarron hasn't got the reputation that Jason has, back from when Jason was good. And that's why Jarron is looking for work. Jarron recently worked out for the Cavaliers, but they're already three deep at centre, and they're supposed to be bringing in Darryl Watkins for training camp. So there might not be room there.

- Dwayne Jones: Jones is in and out of the NBA, appearing in 6 games for the Bobcats last year. Teams always need defensive centres, and Jones will probably get picked up again at some point. But maybe not for very long.

- Jackie Butler: Remember this guy? He hasn't played for two years; not just in the NBA, but anywhere at all. After being waived by the Rockets in 2007 training camp, despite having a $2.3 million guaranteed contract, Butler has not signed anywhere in the world. His last game played was two and a half years ago. It's weird in a way, because Butler is only 24, and proved he could score the ball at the NBA level in his short time here. But he hasn't made it back. Not sure why.

- Mouhamed Sene: The Knicks have brought in a load of draft busts this summer, including Nikoloz Tskitishvili and Yaroslav Korolev. But they couldn't bring it upon themselves to keep Sene, who they waived. That's not a glowing endorsement of the man, and nor was his summer league output, where he once again demonstrated that all he can do on an NBA court is block shots.

- Robert Swift: Swift used to be a reasonable athlete, believe it or not. He was far from fast, and far from what his surname would have you believe, but he didn't move too badly. That was three years ago, though. And the three years hence have been full of injuries and rehabbing. Swift is now as mobile as a back-alley Spanish Peugeot, and where his career goes from here, I wouldn't like to guess. Not even Danny Ainge wants him right now.

- Raef LaFrentz: Nah, not really.

- Jake Voskuhl: The Raptors were so desperate for size last year that they signed Voskuhl, who promptly demonstrated he has nothing left and put up a PER of 0.4. So that didn't really work out. Voskuhl will probably now join the long line of aging 7 footers who remain unsigned while waiting for the Batphone to ring once again; these players usually slowly dribble out of our hearts and minds, and into the world of real estate, without so much as a press release. Shame.

- Mark Madsen: Mark Madsen's Twitter says he doesn't know whether to play, coach, or go into media. Considering his PER's these last two years have been 0.2 and -0.1, I'd probably rule out the playing. It's not coming back to you.

- Lorenzen Wright: Wright's PERs the last three years have almost been as Madsen's; 6.6, 2.5, 4.0. It was a slightly staggering -11.7 in his time with the Kings. I don't want to know how much lower it can get.


There are others that could make this list, including some who have had NBA workouts this summer. John Lucas III, for example, or the long awaited return of Greg Ostertag. If you really want to push it, there's luminaries like Mountain Man Steven Hill and Austin Croshere still out there. Even J.R. Rider is supposed to be lining up a Dickerson-style return for some bizarre reason. And players such as Keith Brumbaugh (Nuggets) and David Monds (Lakers) are said to have been offered training camp spots already. But considering how few available spots we're talking about here, this list seems long enough already.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

"That Guy We Drafted,"1996

For those who missed my Tweets on the subject, I wrote a guest post at the San Antonio Spurs blog 48 Minutes Of Hell, talking about the Spurs finances and Brian Cook and stuff like that. Please go and read it. Also, if you own a good team-specific blog and want me to do the same for your team, be really quite sickeningly nice towards me and you might have a chance. Might.

The following is a round-up of the life, times and afterlives of the entire 1996 NBA Draft. Note: in the event that a player is still in the NBA, I'll assume that you know that and will talk about something else.


- 1st pick: Allen Iverson (Philadelphia) - Everyone has made the same comment about Iverson potentially joining the Memphis Grizzlies. Everyone in the land has made some comment to the effect of "there's only one ball," "who's going to pass," "how could you pair him up with Zach Randolph and Rudy Gay," "how is it going to work long term" etc. And the answer to that is simple; it's not going to work long term. But it's not supposed to, either. Randolph has only two years left on his contract, and Iverson will be signing a one year deal. They're only supposed to be short term improvements, for a team trying to improve whilst unable/unwilling to take on long term commitments. It would be bloody lovely if they could have gotten Paul Millsap and Nate Robinson instead, but that was never realistic. When you're at the bottom with no money to spend, you have to live off the draft, minimum salary steals and retreads. That's how it has to be, and that's what Iverson represents. As retreads go, though, may I point out that Iverson wa averaging 28 points and 8 assists per game just 18 short months ago. Yes, it's worth the risk. Jason Hart might be more willing to pass the ball, but he also has about an 85th of the talent.


- 2nd pick: Marcus Camby (Toronto) - If pushed, how often would you guess Marcus Camby has made the All Star team? I'd say two, maybe one. But the answer's actually none. Does this mean that he's a bust as a number 2 pick, despite having a Defensive Player of the Year award to his name? Considering the strength of the draft behind him, I say yes. Tough but fair.


- 3rd pick: Shareef Abdur-Rahim (Vancouver) - Abdur-Rahim is retired and now working as an assistant coach for the Kings. Here's something to consider, though: when the New Jersey Nets tried to make a sign and trade deal for Abdur-Rahim in August 2005, Shareef failed his physical because of his knee, despite having never missed a game in his NBA career because of knee trouble. The Nets were roundly mocked for this. But I guess they were right, because Shareef had only one year left in him. Shareef signed with Sacramento to a five year deal after the Nets trade fell through, but the Kings only got one decent year, one mediocre year, and one non-existent year out of Shareef, and now he's had to retire with two seasons left on his contract. The trained professionals saw coming what we the public couldn't, and we held that against them. Whoops. The world owes you an apology, medical examiners.

Also note: Steven Hunter's trade to New Orleans in February 2006 was cancelled due to concerns about his knee, which wasn't keeping him out of action at the time, but which the Hornet doctors didn't like the prognosis of. They vetoed the trade, much to the annoyance of the 76ers, and traded for Aaron Williams instead. Hunter is now a Grizzly, and probably won't play this year due to his knee injury. He didn't play at all last year, nearly retired because of the injury, and managed only 120 minutes on it in 2007/2008. More vindication that you won't ever hear enough about. Tyson Chandler had better be contemplating Buddhism right now.


- 4th pick: Stephon Marbury (Milwaukee) - I haven't written about the Marbury uStream yet, because I've not wanted to. It's depressing. But here goes; I watched about 15 seconds of it, total. I had avoided it for a long time, since I've never been a fan of Marbury and because I hate seeing people fall apart, but I was encouraged to watch it by someone who swears that Khalid El-Amin was bodypopping to the camera at that very moment. There was no way I was missing an opportunity to see Khalid El-Amin bobypop, so I fired up the stream to check it out. What I saw instead was Stephon Marbury crying for absolutely no reason whatsoever. So I turned it off again. Bad times. Seriously. I have no idea if Marbury is legitimately crazy, on some kind of brain altering chemical, or just naturally one of the biggest attention seekers you'll ever see. It's not our place to speculate on that. But whichever it is, it's unhealthy behaviour. And so we're bastards if we encourage it.


- 5th pick: Ray Allen (Minnesota) - Allen is 261 three point makes behind Reggie Miller for the all time lead. He's shooting .398 from downtown for his career, whereas Miller shot .395. It's up to you as to which of them is the best three point shooter of all time, but if/when Allen overtakes Miller, and if he cracks the 40% mark for his career, then it'll be hard to argue against him. Especially since he's also reclaimed the single season record from Quentin Richardson (a man who doesn't enter into the 'best three point shooter of all time' discussion). Also note: Jason Williams is 37th on that list, only 7 more makes away from 35th. Strange list.


- 6th pick: Antoine Walker (Boston) - Antoine Walker was arrested earlier this year for passing dud cheques in a Vegas casino. You probably already know that. You also probably know about Antoine's career-long reputation of free spending, of the way he'd live paycheck to paycheck, spending the money as fast as he got it, and having a hell of a fun time for as long as he had a career. If you did, it's probably no surprise that the money went when the career did.

But you may not have known this; in January this year, Walker was sued by former agent Mark Bartelstein for unpaid agents fees. Bartelstein had negotiated Walker's excessive 6 year, $52 million contract with the Heat back in October 2004, and was to take his usual 4% from all of Walker's paychecks, but with an awkward caveat that stated "at Player's discretion. Player may reduce the fee to no less than 3%." Walker paid Bartelstein 4% through the 2007/08 season, but started to fall behind with payments. Walker then fired Bartelstein in July 2008 and stopped paying him altogether. Bartelstein invoiced Walker for all the outstanding money and for his share of the money that Walker would earn in the 2008/09 season, and when Walker refused to pay him the 4% instead of 3%, Bartelstein filed a grievance. He won, and the judge ruled that Walker owed Bartelstein $458,366.45 in previously unpaid fees, as well as 4% of the rest of Walker's paychecks for the 2008.09 season ($213,006.36), for a total of $671,372.81. Fun fact that almost makes you want to stop high stakes gambling.


- 7th pick: Lorenzen Wright (L.A. Clippers) - Lorenzen Wright was the worst player in the NBA in the 2007/08 season, but this didn't stop the Cavaliers bringing him in for the 2008/09 season. There, he was equally useless, and provided no on-court help whatsoever. He's had a good career, but the skills and mobility have gone now. He is currently unsigned and probably always will be.


- 8th pick: Kerry Kittles (New Jersey) - Kerry Kittles' career went a long time ago, cut short by injuries, eventually retiring after the 2005 season. He has since gone back to Villanova and is pursuing an MBA at their school of business. He also works here, whatever this is, and he was a part time scout for the Nets at one point. But I'm not sure if he still does that.


- 9th pick: Samaki Walker (Dallas) - Samaki Walker's last NBA stint was a training camp spot with the Bucks in 2007. Since then, he's taken his high-flying show on the road, specifically eastwards. In the last two years he has played in Syria, the Lebanon and China, where he did the usual Chinese thing and put up huge numbers (26.5ppg, 17.1rpg). Most recently, Walker was drafted in the KBL draft, which pretty much guarantees that he'll be in South Korea next year, unless they've changed their rules.


- 10th pick: Erick Dampier (Indiana) - This will be Erick Dampier's final year as a Maverick. He is under contract for next season a hefty $13,078,000, but it's also fully unguaranteed. And if you don't think the Mavericks are going to ring everyone in the land in a bid to change that, then you're very much mistaken.


- 11th pick: Todd Fuller (Golden State) - You know how the Warriors copped so much flak for picking Fuller over Kobe? Well, why did the Mavericks get let off comparatively easily for the Walker pick? Samaki may have a ring, but it's the guy he was backing up that was responsible for that, so I don't think we can credit him too much for that. Anyway, to Fuller.

Fuller's NBA career totalled 225 games and 5 teams, with career averages of 3.7 points and 3.0 rebounds. (Aaron Gray's NBA career is going to be much the same, but at least he was picked ahead of Renaldas Seibutis instead of Kobe. That's easier to take.) It ended in 2001 training camp with the Magic, at which point Fuller went overseas. He spent the next three years in Spain (with a couple of months in Poland thrown in there somewhere), before signing in Greece for the 2004/05 season. However, Fuller was released by his Greek team after only three games for being too crap and returned to Spain, where he stayed for two more years. His last stint came in Australia; Fuller signed with the Melbourne South Dragons in Australia's NBL for the 2006/07 season, a team coached by Mark Price. However, the South Dragons got out to an 0-5 start before Price was fired, and Fuller was sent away with him. It wasn't Todd's fault; he'd averaged 16.8 points and 8.2 rebounds in his 5 games. But I guess they just wanted a full body cleanse. (Star player Shane Heal then took over as player coach, and Price claims that Heal undermined his position, pretending to be hurt in the season's opening games to get Price fired so that he could then get the head coaching job. Scandal!)

Fuller is now a busy little bee, with a variety of things going on. His number was retired by North Carolina State in 2007, and he sponsors the "Todd Fuller Maths Competition" at a North Carolina high school. He tours the globe participating in voluntary basketball camps, and he serves on the Airport Advisory Committee for Charlotte-Douglas International Airport. (Fuller is a FAA certified pilot in the Charlotte area, so that figures.) He also teaches applied mathematics at Charlotte Christian School. Here's his phone number.


- 12th pick: Vitaly Potapenko (Cleveland) - Potapenko's NBA career ended in the 2006/07 season, when he started the season with the Sonics and was traded to the Kings partway through the year. For both teams, he was awful. His lone basketball stint after that came the following December, when he played a few games for Estudiantes Madrid in the ACB, averaging 5.3 points and 2.7 rebounds. He hasn't been heard from since. (Note: it's far harder to find out stuff about the European players, for reasons that I hope are obvious.)


- 13th pick: Kobe Bryant (Charlotte Hornets) - Kobe has now won more rings without Shaq than Jordan won without Pippen. Just saying.


- 14th pick: Predrag Stojakovic (Sacramento) - Peja is still going, although he's not far away from being Postdrag. He owes it all to the pretty tremendous contract that Jeff Bower gave him, one which calls for two more years and $27.6 million for a player with a PER of 12.5 last year. Nice. Their other shocking contract of that offseason - Bobby Jackson - has finally expired, but not before the Hornets traded it for a longer one (Mike James, later Antonio Daniels) just to get a two month Bonzi Wells cameo. They made a "go for it" trade, missed by miles, and are still suffering from the repercussions, having to dump players to avoid the tax. Nasty. It often escapes mention quite how bad Jeff Bower has been in New Orleans. He wasn't even the one who drafted Chris Paul. But anyway.


- 15th pick: Steve Nash (Phoenix) - Nash's two year extension is for exactly $22 million, with $6 million in deferred compensation. He will count against the cap as $10,310,938 in 2010/11 and $11,689,062 in 2011/12, but will receive $3 million less than that in actual pay over those two years while Robert Sarver waits for the housing market to resuscitate. Fun fact.


- 16th pick: Tony Delk (Charlotte Hornets) - The last time we checked in on Delk, he was a technical advisor in Puerto Rico. Well, he's not any more. Nowadays, along with Scott Padgett, he is working with John Calipari at Kentucky as a "coach in training."


- 17th pick: Jermaine O'Neal (Portland) - Do you know what the most annoying thing in the world is? It's Toronto Raptors fans when talking about Bryan Colangelo. By miles. There is nothing more annoying in the world than this. Nothing. Not a sausage. Not even scrotal crabs or Ron Artest's Twitter account are more potently insufferable than listening to Raptors fans drool on about Colangelo as being some kind of flawless freak of genius, who transcends general managerial conventions to achieve an unparalleled plateau of superlativityness. They make me advocate chemical warfare. It's intolerable.

So let's use some perspective on that, shall we? Colangelo inherited a 27 win team with Chris Bosh, Jose Calderon, max cap room and the #1 overall pick. He didn't earn those things; he already had them when he got there. Three years later, the Raptors had Chris Bosh, Jose Calderon, their balls grazed against the tax threshold.....and all of 33 wins. That is not. Good. Sure, they won the Atlantic division title the year before, but there's a reason they went so far backwards, and that reason was Colangelo's dire 2008 offseason. He did nothing to improve the already-weak wing positions (Hassan Adams doesn't count); instead, he took every trade chip he had (T.J. Ford, their first rounder, the combined $11 million expiring of Rasho Nesterovic and Macy O'Baston) and used it to acquire Jermaine O'Neal, a man who had the second biggest contract in the NBA, who had declined for three straight years and who had played more than 51 games only once in the previous 4 seasons. Unsurprisingly, O'Neal got injured and arseholey, the Raptors imploded, and Colangelo had to use two more assets (Jamario Moon and another first round pick) and take one one more liability (Marcus Banks) just to get rid of him. That's how bad the initial deal was. Colangelo either didn't do his homework (which isn't likely, considering how easy it is to do; it took all of about 30 seconds to Google all that information, and it's not hard to see the size of that knee brace), or he didn't respect it enough (more likely). And that's why the deal was so bad. If you don't think there were 20 million better ways to use those assets, you're lying to yourself. And thus you're probably a Raptors fan.

Colangelo has had a good offseason this year. Not a great one (we'll come to that later), but a good one. They're a 45 to 48 win team again. Whoopee. Yet let's not forget quite how bad the one before was. Just shocking. Stop using Sam Mitchell as a scapegoat for Colangelo's bad moves. They BOTH sucked.


- 18th pick: John Wallace (New York) - Wallace was kind of a disppointment in the NBA after averaging 22/9 in his senior season at Syracuse, but there's no denying that he was fun. He played 7 seasons in the NBA, the last of which was with the 2003/04 Miami Heat. He retired with NBA career averages of 7.6 points and 2.8 rebounds, which isn't bad. He played one more season, in 2004/05 with Snaidero Udine in Italy's SerieA, before retiring. There's scant little information about what he's done since then; all I know is that he lives in Rochester and served as an assistant coach at the 2008 AAU 15-and-under National Championships. Probably doesn't pay well. Bonus info: His godson is Javon McCrea, a high school star who has given a verbal commitment to Georgetown.


- 19th pick: Walter McCarty (New York) - McCarty's last stint in the NBA came with the 2005-06 Clippers, where he didn't do much. Since then, he has worked his way up through the coaching ranks, and he's now an assistant coach to dirty sexpest Rick Pitino at Louisville. (Before that whole nailing-someone-that-wasn't-his-wife-over-a-restaurant-table story broke, I used to instinctively think of Al Pacino in 'People I Know' when I saw Rick Pitino. But not now. He has only himself to blame for that.)


- 20th pick: Zydrunas Ilgauskas (Cleveland) - I won't make some smart arsed comment about the Z/Shaq quandry that they're faced with in Cleveland, and the sheer pointlessness of it, because I can't be bothered. Instead, let's reminisce; remember when Zydrunas Ilgauskas was a terrible health risk, and it looked as though his career was over? That's how bad his foot injury was; he played only 5 games in the 1998/99 season, missed all of the 1999/2000 season, played only 24 games in 2000/01, and managed only two thirds of the 2001/02 season while backing up Chris Mihm. That's a total of 91 games played, out of a possible 296. Not good. But since then, his games played have read thusly; 81, 81, 78, 78, 78, 73, 65, a total of 534 games played out of a possible 574. Much better. God bless modern medical science. Also, did you know that Zydrunas Ilgauskas averages only 29 minutes per game for his career? Me neither. This makes his career offensive rebounding average of 3.1 per game look pretty damn good.


- 21st pick: Dontae' [sic] Jones (New York) - Jones' NBA career was short but not sweet, totalling a mere 15 games and 91 minutes with the Boston Celtics in the 1997/98 season. Since then, he's done a world tour of the minor leagues, one that's still going on today. With stops in Greece, Italy, the CBA, Venezuela and the ABA to his name, amongst others, Jones played last year in China. Did he put up huge numbers? Did he ever. Maybe even the biggest of the bunch; Jones averaged 31.6 points, 14.6 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 2.7 steals per game. If we were to nitpick, we could point out that those 1487 points came on 1356 shots, which is pretty poor efficiency, not helped by Jones taking 11 three pointers per game and making only 29% of them. But for a 34 year old to post 32/15 at any level of professional basketball is pretty damn impressive. Here's to another year.

Quick trivia question; what common bond do three of the previous four players share between them, along with Dennis Rodman? Answer to follow.


- 22nd pick: Roy Rogers (Vancouver) - Rogers' NBA career peaked pretty early. He played in all 82 games his rookie season, including 50 starts, but only played in 55 more NBA games in his lifetime. He was in and out of the NBA until 2002, making stops with the Grizzlies, Bulls, Cavaliers, Rockets, Kings and Nuggets along the way, with a couple of stints in Europe (Russia, Slovenia, Italy) thrown in. He can also claim to have once been traded for Scottie Pippen, which is quite the boast. Rogers' last playing stint came in Poland in November 2003, before he went into coaching. He has now worked his way up the ranks to become an assistant for the New Jersey Nets.


- 23rd pick: Efthimios Rentzias (Denver) - Rentizas was covered back in April. Remember, I take requests. Fun fact: the two second round picks that the Sixers gave up in 2002 to acquire Rentizas's rights were the 37th pick in 2004, and the 42nd pick in 2006; those two picks were later used on Royal Ivey and Daniel Gibson. Whoops. Still, at least Ivey is a Sixer himself now. That numbs the pain. (Wait, no it doesn't.)


- 24th pick: Derek Fisher (L.A. Lakers) - Still going strong. If things were different, Fisher would be being paid $7,354,500 this season by the Jazz to back up Deron Williams. As it is, though, he'll be earning $5,048,000 to backup no one at all for the Lakers. I wonder if this will be his last year.


- 25th pick: Martin Muursepp (Utah) - Muursepp is still the only Estonian to have ever played in the NBA. He played two years and 83 games in the NBA, putting up a PER of 14.9, which is pretty good going. He left the NBA in 1998 after playing with European clubs during the NBA's lockout while still under contract to the Suns, and he's not been back. He was still playing as of the start of last season, when he signed back in his native Estonia with BC Kalev/Cramo Tallinn, but he didn't play a game for them. This Estonian article breaks the news that Muursepp is about to become a father, and also boasts an up-to-date picture of him; the article's title, when run through Google Translate, comes out as "That's true! Martin is the father of Müürsepp!"


- 26th pick: Jerome Williams (Detroit) - Williams retired prematurely in 2006 and went back to his beloved Raptors to work as a community liaison assistant person thing. I'm assuming he was still there, or is at least a Raptor in some capacity, because unless Gene Keady has crapped in his kitchen or something, nothing is breaking Jerome's undying love for that franchise. This is a man who wore Raptors shorts under his Bulls shorts while a member of Chicago, because he was so upset at being traded away. What a jessie.


- 27th pick: Brian Evans (Orlando) - Evans' NBA career lasted for three years and three teams, culminating in a stint with the Timberwolves in 1998/99. He signed with Fenerbahce in Turkey in April 1999, but left after only one week "because of the situation in Kosovo." (Not sure how that works. It's not my quote.) Evans then spent four years in Italy and two years in Japan, before retiring in 2005. He then joined the real world, and used to be a senior vice president for Mesirow Financial, where his job was to drum up business for the insurance unit; however, he's been removed from the company's website, which presumably means he has left them. (This is a genius obseveration.) Before that, Evans worked in insurance and real estate. He's also done lots of things associated with Indiana University, from talking to the players to helping out at a camp to hosting some tournament draw or something. Exciting stuff.


- 28th pick: Priest Lauderdale (Atlanta) - Priest Lauderdale is still going, because 7'4 is still a commodity in the professional basketball world. In addition to being the worst player in the history of the NBA Live series of computer games, Lauderdale is also a minor league veteran, whose professional career has read thusly; Greece, Hawks, Nuggets, Bulls, CBA, CBA, Spain, Venezuela, China, Blazers, Cyprus, Philippines, Bulgaria, Bulgaria, Bulgaria, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Saudi Arabia, China, and finally Iran, where he is signed up to play next year with last year's champions Saba Mehr. Gotta catch them all.

Priest Lauderdale fact: In his Philippines stint, Lauderdale was ejected from the league for being "too tall"; a really pointless rule stipulated that teams could bring in two imports, but they couldn't average more than 6'8 in height, and the team's other import (Jermaine Walker) was 6'4. Strange times. Another fun Priest Lauderdale fact; as you can see above, Lauderdale played three years in Bulgaria, and he was subsequently awarded Bulgarian citizenship in 2004. This nationalisation also saw him become - and I'm not joking - "Bulgaria's Tallest Man." That's a life well led right there.


- 29th pick: Travis Knight (Chicago) - Travis Knight never played professionally outside of the NBA, which is a real rarity. He didn't need to, considering the highly ambitious seven year contract that the Celtics gave him back in 1997. He played 7 years in the bigs before being waived by the Knicks in October 2003, after which he's never played again. He now runs a charter fishing service in Nicaragua. True story. Here's what he's done to his appearance:



Knight still holds the record for the quickest foulout in a playoff game, fouling out in 6 minutes in a 1999 Western Conference Finals game. He is also still the only person that I know of drafted in the first round whose draft rights were renounced by the team that drafted him because they didn't think he was worth of the salary of a 29th pick. That's quite the kick in the junk there. Speaking of junk, Knight presumably still has his massive penis, although given that there's a porn star of the same name, I don't advise you go to Google "travis knight penis" too often.


(Trivia question answer: John Wallace, Walter McCarty, Dontae' Jones and Dennis Rodman were all named as compelling protagonists in a "Free Sex For Famous Athletes" scandal that didn't rock the world a few months ago. Doesn't seem like too big of a news story, really. But there it is anyway.)


- 30th pick: Othella Harrington (Houston) - Harrington was let go by the Bobcats last summer, and sat out most of the following season. Then, bizarrely, he went to the D-League in late March, and played three games with the Los Angeles D-Fenders. However, he was crap in them, and was soon released. He is currently unsigned, and, given that he hasn't been any good for four years, he's probably done. He might not know it, though, and still speaks of a comeback. Good luck with that. [I think I use too many commas.]


- 31st pick: Mark Hendrickson (Philadelphia) - Hendrickson was a bit part player in the NBA for four seasons, playing 114 games and rocking a career PER of 10.6. After that, he gave up basketball and went to play baseball, where he's played for a variety of major league teams, perhaps most notably including my Tampa Bay Devil Rays [as were]. He is now a reliever for the Baltimore Orioles, where he throws remarkably average pitches to remarkably average effect. At least we managed to get one season of All Star-calibre freakishly-lucky singles hitting out of Dioner Navarro as a result of our Hendrickson trade, which was something.


- 32nd pick: Ryan Minor (Philadelphia) - Minor is another baseball player, who never played professional basketball despite his draft position. He must have really liked baseball, because he was picked with the 2nd pick in the 2nd round of the NBA draft, went in the 33rd round of the MLB draft, and yet still favoured the baseball. Minor only barely cracked the majors, hitting .177 in his big league career with 5 home runs and a slightly severe strikeout problem. He retired in 2006 and is now a minor league hitting coach with the Orioles.


- 33rd pick: Moochie Norris (Milwaukee) - Mooch was last in the NBA in July 2006, when the Hornets waived him for his unguaranteed contract. That wasn't the end of his basketball journey; he spent two seasons back in his old stomping ground, the Continental Basketball Association, and led it in assists. There was also a brief stint in Italy in there somewhere. But he didn't play anywhere last season, and even though I'm pretty certain he's going to have gone into coaching at some point, I can't seem to find anything that confirms where he might be. Sorry about that.


- 34th pick: Shawn Harvey (Dallas) - Harvey's professional career was not successful. He never played in the NBA, being waived in his first training camp, and his ensuing tryouts in the American minor leagues were not especially successful. He spent most of the next five years in the CBA, with small sojourns into the IBA, IBL, USBL and Italy thrown in. He was last heard of in 2001, when he tried to make the Roanoke Dazzle's D-League roster. He failed. The internet is literally devoid of more Shawn Harvey information, but I'm 99.99999% sure that this is his Facebook account. So if you want to find out what he's doing, there's your starting point.


- 35th pick: Joseph Blair (Seattle) - Joseph Blair used to be so cool that he had two websites. Now, he has no websites. It's bad times right here. Blair didn't sign in the NBA until the Bulls signed him for training camp in 2007. (The fact that Scott Skiles and Joseph Blair have the same agent couldn't be connected to this, could it?) Blair appeared in a couple of preseason games for the Bulls, and missed a shedload of fourth quarter free throws, so that was fun. In the 11 years between those two NBA flurries, Blair has been a minor league whore, mainly in Italy, Turkey and Russia. And it's Russia where he spent last year, playing in a few games for Spartak St Petersburg and averaging 8/8. His most notable contribution to last season was initiating a 16-man brawl in an October Russian Cup game that saw so many players ejected that the game eventually ended as a 3-3 affair. Blair was not one of the players ejected. That's veteran savvy, that is.


- 36th pick: Doron Sheffer (L.A. Clippers) - Sheffer never played in the NBA, but his rights were traded five years after he was drafted in exchange for Will Perdue. And that's got to make any man feel good. Sheffer has spent his whole professional career in his native Israel, where he was one of the better players in the country from 1996 through until 2000, winning four consecutive national championships. Suddenly, he retired out of the blue, and embarked on a world tour. It turns out he had cancer, which he successfully beat. He returned in 2003, and saw out the rest of the 2002/03 season with Maccabi. Then he joined Hapoel Jerusalem for two years, and signed with Hapoel Tel-Aviv in October 2005, only to retire again, claiming that basketball was a "waste of time." Again he came back, with this retirement lasting only two months; he rejoined Tel-Aviv for the remainder of the season, but managed only 5 games before breaking his hand. This prompted him to retire again, something he was increasingly familiar with doing. Equally familiar with unretirement, Sheffer unretired once more in summer 2007 for one final go-around (we think), spending the season with Hapoel Galil Elyon and averaging a meagre 4/2. He says he is now retired for the fourth time. Fair enough, but can we believe him?


- 37th pick: Jeff McInnis (Denver) - McInnis's wildly inconsistent NBA career trundled to a stop in February 2008 when the Bobcats waived him. Since then, I have absolutely no idea what he's been doing. Believe me, I've looked, but it's hard to find basketball player Jeff McInnis information when there's a TV chef of the same name who seems to have about 45 times more press coverage these days. But I do know that a few days ago, he played in a North Carolina alumni game thing. So we know he's not dead, at least.


- 38th pick: Steve Hamer (Boston) - Hamer's professional basketball career was brief. Like, really brief. He played 35 games with a pissweak Celtics team in 1996/97, and thats literally all I've got. If he played anywhere else in the world, then I don't know about it. Hamer is now an assistant coach for the girl's team at Apostolic Christian School in Knoxville, something which he presumably does in conjunction with a day job. I would have looked harder for information about him, but once I found myself reading an online tribute to his dead mother-in-law, I realised quite how weird and excessive what I'm doing here is. And so I stopped with Steve Hamer and moved onto Russ Millard.


- 39th pick: Russ Millard (Phoenix) - Millard never played in the NBA, or anywhere really. He split the 1996/97 season between Italy and the CBA, spent the next couple of summers in Puerto Rico, had one more go around in the CBA, then found himself in the French second division in 1999/2000. And then that was it. It's really hard to find a single thing about Russ Millard, but he did go to a special food giveaway held by Ryan Bowen last July, and he was inducted into the Iowa High School Athletic Association’s Basketball Hall of Fame back in March. He is now a gym instructor. This is a picture of him and his hairline, freaking the shit out of a kid that is not his own. Hot socks.


- 40th pick: Marcus Mann (Golden State) - Mann's story is pretty freaking unique. He signed with the Warriors for the 1996/97 season, but he didn't play a game for them, leaving the team at the end of training camp. And then he left basketball. Seriously. He just got up and left it behind. Forever. Well, sort of forever; he came back in late 1998 to play for the La Crosse Bobcats in the CBA, but injured his knee in only his second game. THEN he walked away for good, ne'er to return. As good as he was as basketball, he didn't want to play it as much as he wanted to help kids, so he gave up the game and went to work as a chaplain at a correctional facility for 13-20 year olds. And if you don't believe me, read this.


- 41st pick: Jason Sasser (Sacramento) - Sasser played only 14 games in the NBA, 8 in the 1996/97 season split between the Spurs and Mavericks, and 6 in the 1998/99 season with the Vancouver Grizzlies. He's still playing, showing up as recently as this January with the awesomely named Pusan KTF Magic Wings in the [South] Korean Basketball League. Sasser averaged 15.2 points and 6.5 rebounds in 11 games. He's clearly still got it.

Jeryl Sasser information [his brother] will appear in the 2002 roundup, which we'll hopefully get to within the next 8 months.


- 42nd pick: Randy Livingston (Houston) - Randy Livingston was 95% sure that he was going to retire in the summer of 2006. But he didn't. Not even close, really; he played two more years in the D-League with the Idaho Stampede, averaging 12.3 points, 4.7 rebounds and 10.6 assists per game in 2006/07, and improving to 16.5 points, 4.2 rebounds and 10.5 assists per game in 2007/08. He even got called up to the Sonics for 4 games in April 2007, just to complete the comeback. Only after the 2008 season did he retire and go into coaching, like he had threatened to do a long time before. He spent last year as an assistant coach for the Stampede, and has now moved to the expansion Maine Red Claws to be an assistant there instead. He'll be a head coach one day, and probably an NBA head coach one day at that.


- 43rd pick: Ben Davis (Phoenix) - Davis turns 37 in Boxing Day, but he's not done with yet. He played 40 games over four NBA seasons, and has spent the rest of his time since then doing the minor league tour. His stops have included the CBA, Puerto Rico, Spain, CBA again, Puerto Rico again, Greece, CBA again, ABA, Venezuela, Dominican Republic, Spain again, Philippines, Italy, USBL, France, Dominican Republic again, Portugal, Uruguay, Venezuela again, Syria, Costa Rica, and finally Mexico, where he played last season and averaged 6 rebounds per game. Davis also signed up for a number of training camp spots in that time, including with the Rockets in 2003 at the ripe old age of 30. He's put work in, definitely.


- 44th pick: Malik Rose (Charlotte Hornets) - Rose was in the NBA up to and including last season, where the Thunder weirdly traded Chris Wilcox for him. Even if you don't want Chris Wilcox and have no intention of bringing him back, do you really want/need to trade him for Malik Rose? Didn't get that. But it's all inconsequential anyway. Rose is unsigned, and I haven't seen anything about a single team being interested in him.


- 45th pick: Joe Vogel (Seattle) - The Sonics had given up the 28th pick in this draft (Lauderdale) in exchange for the 45th and 47th picks, but they got absolutely nothing with the 45th one. Vogel never made the Sonics roster, or even the NBA in general; he spent the years between 1996 and 2000 in other leagues, starting with Turkey and moving onto Japan, Saudi Arabia and the Lebanon. In 2000, he signed with the Clippers for training camp, but didn't make the team, so he went to the CBA, and then back to Lebanon for another year. In 2002 Vogel tried again for the NBA, signing with the Jazz for training camp, but again he didn't make the team. He split the 2002/03 season between China and Puerto Rico, then moved back to the Lebanon for the 2003/04 season, where he's been ever since.

Counting fans will have noticed that that's 8 total years he's spent in the Lebanon, and it's more than enough to have earned him a Lebanese passport. But the passport isn't just a token gesture to Vogel; he's been the Lebanese national starting centre for many years. Last year he averaged 10.7 points and 7.0 rebounds per game, numbers quite dramatically down on the previous year's averages. But he's 36 next week, so that's probably a reasonable thing to expect.


- 46th pick: Marcus Brown (Portland) - Brown is still going as well, signed through 2010 with the remnants of the once great Lithuanian team, Zalgiris Kaunas. His NBA career lasted only 27 games, 21 in 1996/97 with Portland and 6 in 1999/00 with the Pistons, but the rest-of-the-world career has been pretty biblical. He's won the French league twice (1998, 2000), the Spanish ACB once (2006), Russian Superleague title twice (2004, 2005), the Turkish league championships (2002), the Lithuanian league (2008) and the Israeli league (2009). You'll notice that that's one for almost every year right there; in fact, the only two non-NBA seasons for Brown in which he DIDN'T win the domestic league were 2001 (when he was injured and missed several weeks), 2003 (when his team finished a shitty second) and 2007 (in which his team, Unicaja Malaga, still managed to make the Euroleague semi-finals.) Even last season, at the ripe old age of 35, Brown was still able to average 12 points per game in the Euroleague. Marcus Brown makes teams win. Zalgiris are lucky to have him.


- 47th pick: Ron Riley (Seattle) - Zalgiris would be less lucky to have Ron Riley, who has never really done anything. Riley never played in the NBA, which means that Seattle traded Priest Lauderdale for literally nothing whatsoever. And whatever you may think of the world's tallest Bulgarian, he's better than nothing.

Riley spent a few years doing the rounds, but never did anything impressive; his only big year came in 2000/2001, when he averaged 23 points per game, but unfortunately that was in Austria. And no one ever plays in Austria, because Austrian basketball sucks. Riley played a few games in the D-League in 2003, averaging a sizzling 4.5 points per game for the now-defunct Huntsville Flight, and then he went to Syria. His last professional outing came in the ABA with the Las Vegas Rattlers, for whom he played 1 game in November 2004. And then that was it.

After giving up the game, Riley went back to school to complete his psychology degree at the University of Great Falls; while he was there, he took a job as an assistant coach for the basketball team. The head coach at Great Falls was the equipment manager at Arizona State University at the same time that Riley was the team's star player, so that's an interesting switchaloomba they've got going on there. (He also doubles as the golf coach, which says something about NAIA standards.)

Ron Riley fact: Ron Riley's cousin is permanent burden NBA point guard, Marcus Banks. It's all good information.


- 48th pick: Jamie Feick (Philadelphia) - Feick was a baller, who could flat out rebound if nothing else, but his body didn't want to know. His last NBA game came in early 2001, before he had to retire prematurely with a heel injury. He stayed on the roster for two more years due to the injury exception rule thing, but there was no more basketball left in him. He's now a professional bass fisherman, of all things. Do you want his Facebook? Course you do.


- 49th pick: Amal McCaskill (Orlando) - Amal McCaskill is still playing. It's been four years since he made a training camp roster, but he's still trying. Last year he played for Igokea in Bosnia, and before that he's played in the Philippines, the UAE, what's left of the CBA, the Lebanon.....all the big names. He was recently drafted in the KBL Draft, which should mean he's got at least one more year coming.


- 50th pick: Terrell Bell (Houston) - Despite four training camp appearances, Bell never played in the NBA. He spent most of his career in the CBA, venturing out to Spain, Turkey and Poland at various times. He finished his career in Argentina in January 2005, where he played 5 games and averaged 1.0 points per game. That wasn't a typo. I can't find any information about his post-playing career, mainly because there's a Virginia Tech guard called Terrell Bell who also came from Georgia, and it's damn near impossible to filter through all the information about him. They broke me on this one.


- 51st pick: Chris Robinson (Vancouver) - Robinson appeared in 76 NBA games between 1996 and 1998 with a career eFG of .467%. The rest of his career was unexciting; some CBA here, some ABA there, one small stint in Italy and a short turn in the early days of the D-League. Robinson's last gig was in the ABA in the 2004/05 season, where he averaged 10.1 points per game for the Carolina Thunder. (A great name for a team, but a greater name for a girl.)


- 52nd pick: Mark Pope (Indiana) - Covered this a few weeks ago.


- 53rd pick: Jeff Nordgaard (Milwaukee) - Nordgaard, too, was briefly touched upon not so long ago. Giggidy. He raised his scoring average by 0.1 of a point since that post was written, to a scintillating 0.5 points per game. That's two made field goals in a season, folks. Nordgaard has spent the last four years in Poland, and......he's clearly run out of juice now. This is probably it, unless he has a third wind in there somewhere. It might do him good to get out of Poland.


- 54th pick: Shandon Anderson (Utah) - The Knicks finally got rid of Shanderson in 2004, over three years after the pointless Ewing trade that brought him in in the first place. Shandon then spent two years with the Heat for no real reason, and managed to win a ring in that time through almost no work of his own. I can't find anything that Shandon has done in the three years hence, but considering all the money he 'earned' in the NBA, he has no real reason to get out of bed these days, so I wouldn't be surprised or disheartened if he just didn't bother.


- 55th pick: Ronnie Henderson (Washington) - Henderson went from being a blazing shit hot recruit to being absolutely nothing at all. He was drafted near to last in the draft, never played in the NBA, walked out of his only NBA training camp, and played only three professional seasons before jacking it all in. (Giggidy.) Henderson played in an LSU alumni game in February, so he's not dead, but he sure is quiet. Apparently he now works with a housekeeping firm in his native Gulfport. It took me 45 minutes to find the material for that last sentence. I'm wasting my life.


- 56th pick: Reggie Geary (Cleveland) - Geary played 39 NBA games with the Cavaliers in 1996/97, played 62 games with the Spurs in 1997/98, and posted a combined PER of 7.3 between the two. After that, he did the usuals (CBA, USBL, etc) and was briefly a Harlem Globetrotter. He wound up his career in the Ukraine in 2003. After that went he went back to school to complete his degree, and then went behind the scenes, working as a director of basketball operations for Arizona University in 2005/06, later moving to the Anaheim Arsenal to work as an assistant coach. He then became the head coach of the Arse, but moved back to Arizona for the 2008/09 season to be an assistant there. Geary is now an assistant coach at Southern Methodist University, which seems like a backwards step.


- 57th pick: Drew Barry (Seattle) - The Barry brother that no one cared about, Barry played in the CBA in the 1996/97 season, then squeaked out the next three years as a bit part player in the NBA. Germany, Italy, Poland and China followed, before Barry's basketball career dribbled to a stop in 2004. He is now a commentator on ESPNU.


- 58th pick: Darnell Robinson (Dallas) - Robinson never played in the NBA, and his professional career lasted only four years. He managed to visit all of France, Italy, Puerto Rico, Greece and Israel in that time, which is not bad going, but he was also released once for disciplinary problems (he failed to attend the All-Star game) and battled weight issues and subsequent foot injuries for his entire career. Robinson was once thought of as hot shit, but it never amounted to anything significant, and he remains one of the biggest busts in McDonalds All-American history. (I've just realised how little sense that last sentence makes to people who don't know what it references.) He now lives in Oakland.

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"The brain behind ShamSports could have been featured in a number of these Twitter lists, but because his website often spends our entire working day lodged in one of our browser tabs we decided to take the boring route and place Mark amongst the professors. Deeks might be the funniest man you've never met, he does exhaustive work with the NBA's salary minutiae and transaction follow-ups, and he's a stone-cold must-follow. Stone-cold fox, too, ladies. Or, some gentlemen."