– Malick Badiane was an exciting thing for Houston Rockets fans for a few years. They could pretend that his underwhelming numbers in less-than-stellar European leagues were not as important as the idea of having a seven-foot young, athletic, defensive minded centre, who could grow into some weird yet perfect merger of Kevin Garnett and Dikembe Mutombo. But it slowly emerged that Badiane wasn’t getting anywhere fast, and was not getting to the top echelons of Europe, let alone the NBA. Badiane’s rights were then meekly thrown into the Mike James/Bobby Jackson swap of last season, and from then on it was Memphis fans who had someone to keep the loosest tabs on. Badiane then accepted Memphis’ tender offer to come to training camp this summer – whether they wanted this or not is another matter – but unsurprisingly, he didn’t make the team. He subsequently signed in China, but left before playing a game, and is now unemployed, probably living it up with Rafael Araujo or something. (I have this idea in my head that all currently unsigned basketball players constantly hang out together. It’s not true, but it’s a fun image anyway.)
– Dalibor Bagaric had reportedly signed a guaranteed contract with the Atlanta Hawks this summer, as Hawks GM Rick Sund once again pursued a player he nearly signed when Sund was with Seattle. But this didn’t happen, as evidenced by the fact that it didn’t happen. Instead, Bagaric went back to Fortitudo Bologna, where he averaged 2 points and 2 rebounds in two games in October. Now, I can’t speak Italian or Spanish, so I can’t tell if he’s still there and/or injured/out of favour, or if he left ages ago, but at the very least I can tell you that he is being pursued by CAI Zaragoza. As is Bruno Sundov. As is Ratko Varda. As is everybody, really.
– It’s all gone south for Vin Baker. After spending part of November 2006 on the roster of the Minnesota Timberwolves – before being waived without playing a game – Baker has only been in the news for the wrong reasons. In June 2007, Baker was arrested for drink driving, a particularly bad situation to be in when you’re a recovering alcoholic, as Vin is. (Baker pled guilty to a lesser charge of reckless driving.) Then it emerged that his seafood restaurant had closed down, with apparent debts of $900,000, compounded by the embarrassing news that Baker’s parents had invested $400,000 into the unsuccessful venture. Worse still, in June 2008, Baker’s home was also foreclosed. And then last month, Baker tried a basketball comeback in China, but his trial with the Liaoning Panpan Hunters ended after two days due to Baker’s poor conditioning. They say that no news is good news, and no news about Vin Baker would be good right now.
– Sean Banks was one of the better players in the D-League last season, and he currently averages 11.5 points, 4.6 rebounds and 2.0 assists for Darussafaka Istanbul in Turkey. Aged only 23 still, Banks had the time and the talent to make the NBA again one day.
– Stanko Barac is in the second year of a five-year contract with Tau Ceramica in Spain. Barac averages 3.4 points and 3.5 rebounds on a stacked team, but we’ll grant him extenuating circumstances seeing as he was also recently elected as the first black President of the United States of America. It’s nice to have a trade to fall back on, though.
– Steven Barber was out of basketball all of last year, before last month making a dynamic return to the CBA with the Albany Patroons. I have no idea what his averages are.
– Omar Barlett signed two days ago with Anwil Wloclawek in Poland. I bring only the best, most important news.
– Earl Barron signed with Fortitudo Bologna (Dalibor’s team) to start the season, but was quickly injured and released. He’s currently unsigned, and no doubt attending weekly salsa dancing classes with Araujo and Badiane.
– Jon Barry is now an ESPN analyst. You knew that already, though, so instead I shall take this opportunity to list all the players that appeared (however briefly) on the 2005/06 Houston Rockets roster.
PG – Rafer Alston, Luther Head, Moochie Norris, Rick Brunson, John Lucas
SG – David Wesley, Keith Bogans, Derek Anderson, Richie Frahm, Jon Barry
SF – Tracy McGrady, Ryan Bowen, Stephen Graham
PF – Juwan Howard, Stromile Swift, Lonny Baxter, Maciej Lampe, Josh Davis
C – Yao Ming, Dikembe Mutombo, Chuck Hayes
Of that list, only McGrady, Yao, Head, Graham, Bogans, Alston, Mutombo, Swift and Bowen remain in the NBA, and only five of them ever get off the bench. The previous season saw similar retreads such as Clarence Weatherspoon, Tyronn Lue, Scott Padgett, Vin Baker, Charlie Ward, Maurice Taylor, Mike James, Bob Sura, Jim Jackson and Rod Strickland take the stand, of whom only James and Lue still remain. Two prime years of young super-duperstars were wasted with a roster of little but retrodden veterans. Back when they needed it, when they had the two stars necessary to make title pushes, they had nothing but a backcourt of OAP’s and a frontcourt of missed layups to do it with. Now they have a balanced team, with youth and experience, offence and defence, athleticism and skill, but they only have a hobbled version of Tracy McGrady left to support, creating problems of a different sort. Did the Rockets waste the best chance of title window? Yes, I think they did.
(Note – that ’06 roster was mainly undermined by the lengthy injuries to both McGrady and Yao. But let’s be honest – it wasn’t going anywhere anyway. I mean, just look at it.)
– Eddie Basden is playing for Mersin in Turkey, where he averages 8.8 points, 4.8 rebounds and 3.2 steals a game. He is also a surprisingly potent source of hate mail for me, so I’d like to take this opportunity to set the record straight, and announce that anyone who perceives there to be any flaw in the delectably flawless basketball player that is Eddie Basden is, frankly, an idiot, and that any weaknesses or vague derogatory statements towards his basketball skillset are in the eye of the beholder only. Such statements are not to be valued as credible or reliable by anyone, and the makers of such damning slants are to be ridiculued mercilessly and to have their email accounts bombarded with anonymous insults. This includes anything that I may ever have written about him, and I have learnt my lesson – Eddie Basden is perfect, and you are to TOTALLY remind me of this at all times.
– Finally, Mengke Bateer has long since gone back to China, where he averages 15.7 points, 10.0 rebounds and 5.3 assists per game for the Xinjiang Gyang Hui Flying Tigers. A further rambling on the subject of the Chinese Basketball Association’s comically lopsided statistical averages will follow shortly.