Beginning now, there will be a series of posts detailing the summer league rosters of every NBA team this year. This is because summer league is great fun, and because the lavish descriptions of fringe NBA players gets me going. But you probably knew that already.
– Nick Fazekas: Fazekas should be in the NBA, really. But he’s not. Even though he was paid $711,517 by the Mavericks last season, Fazekas wasn’t on their roster, as they waived him as a concurrent part of the Jason Kidd trade eighteen months ago. This decision would have been forgettable had the Mavericks not had the quad Devean George, Antoine Wright, Jerry Stackhouse and Shawne Williams on their roster last season, but anyway. Fazekas went to camp with the Nuggets last season, as did pretty much every player in the history of the game, and then spent the year with Oostende in Belgium and ASVEL Villeurbanne in France. I’d like to think that the team that has employed Brian Scalabrine for four years could find a spot for a similar but younger player like Fazekas, but it doesn’t seem likely.
– J.R. Giddens: Giddens played all of eight minutes with the Celtics last year. There’s no real need for this 24-year-old non-contributor to be on the roster of a veteran team with championship aspirations, but his D-League numbers from last year (36 games, 17.2 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 3.0 apg, 1.4 bpg, 58% shooting) suggest that there might be something for someone to pursue there. There’d better be, since the Celtics used a first-rounder on him. Giddens still doesn’t have a consistent jump shot, however, which still doesn’t help him.
– Lester Hudson: Hudson was the Celtics’ only pick in the draft, 58th overall, ahead of Chinemelu Elonu and Robert Dozier. He had averaged almost 28/8/4 at Tennessee-Martin in his sophomore season, and averaged much the same in his freshman season as well. Kind of makes you wonder why he went to such a small program if he’s that good. Hudson might make the Celtics roster, but if he doesn’t and Gabe Pruitt does, then you’ll know what stopped him.
– Coby Karl: Karl started last season in the D-League, averaging nearly 19 points and 6 assists for the Idaho Stampede, before leaving partway through the season to sign for DKV Joventut Badalona. He barely played in Badalona, though, and averaged less than five points per game. His chances of making the Celtics roster seem slim, considering Giddens is the incumbent with a guaranteed deal. Karl, an ex-Laker, was last heard of when it was reported that he was giving his dad – Nuggets coach George Karl – inside insight to the Lakers’ style of play and personal before the Western Conference Finals between the two teams. This news made some Lakers fans irate, annoyed that Karl would show more loyalty to the man that brought him into this world than the team that kept him on the inactive list for a year before waiving him for Sun Yue. That was fun to see. NBA fans are great like that.
– Chris Lofton: Lofton went undrafted last season and didn’t sign a training camp deal, instead going to Turkey and signing with a team called Mersin (also the home of Eddie Basden). There, he averaged 20.2 ppg, 2.6 rpg and 2.0 apg, shooting almost twice as many three-pointers as he did twos. Considering he shot 46.1% from three-point range, that doesn’t seem like a bad idea. Lofton also managed to break the Turkish league single-game scoring record when he scored 61 points, making 17 three-pointers in that game. This should tell you how he plays. Lofton had a workout for the Grizzlies back in May, but joined the Celtics for summer league instead, despite Eddie House’s presence seemingly closing the door on his chances here. Chris Lofton fact: Chris Lofton once had testicular cancer.
– Bryan Mullins: It was said that Mullins was going to join the Bulls’ summer league team, but that clearly didn’t happen. Mullins averaged 9.3 points, 5.6 assists and 2.0 steals last year for Southern Illinois, which aren’t huge numbers in a not-huge conference. He did, however, win all kinds of academic athlete awards, who majored in finance, and who had a 4.0 GPA. So if the basketball thing doesn’t work out, he should still be fine for employment.
– Gabe Pruitt: Pruitt played in 47 games last year and shot 31%, as the remnants of Stephon Marbury played ahead of him. To call it a tough year would be being pretty kind, especially since he got arrested for DUI somewhere in amongst that. Pruitt was drafted 32nd overall in 2007 (usually a high value position), and has a guaranteed contract for this season, but it wouldn’t be a surprise if he was dumped somewhere at some point – it hasn’t amounted to anything yet, and the Celtics are competing more urgently than that.
– Kevin Rogers: I watched Rogers quite a bit with Baylor last year (the NIT got a surprising amount of coverage over here), and I never quite figured out what it was that he was going to stand out as. He showed a reasonable outside shot, a reasonable inside game, some reasonable rebounding, the occasional nice bit of help on defence, but nothing really standyouty. If anything, he stood out at Baylor primarily because their other options as big men were Quincy Acy (athtletic, but about as technically refined as a nail bomb), Josh Lomers (no discernible skills profile other than being huge and slow with a tremendously full head of hair) and Mamadou Diene (who had about three minutes of stamina on his pokey knees, and the discreet touch of a drunk Captain Hook touching up a hedgehog). I came away with the impression that Baylor was a jack of all trades, but a master of none. That works in Baylor, but not in Boston.
– Bryce Taylor: Taylor was on the Timberwolves’ summer league team last year, where I watched him lovingly unfurl a good jump shot, and an efficient and pretty solid overall game with no outstanding attributes to it. Taylor spent last season with Premiata Montegrenaro in Italy’s Serie A, where he averaged 13.0 points, 2.4 rebounds and 1.6 steals a game. On the down side, he also only averaged 0.5 assists in 29 minutes a game, which is very low for a guard, even if assists are far harder to come by in Italy’s slightly authoritarian scoring system.
– Mike Sweetney: WOOOOOOOHOOOOOOO!!!! Sweetney’s back!!! Good times. Since his rookie contract expired as a member of the Bulls in the summer of 2007, Sweetney has not been heard from at all. He literally disappeared off the map. Wasn’t even on Facebook or anything. It looked bleak. But a sighting finally came; the Boston Globe reported that he was in the crowd for Bulls/Celtics game seven back in May, and maybe that was the precursor to this. Hopefully he’s found a way to solve his weight problems, and found what was the cause of them in the first place. I am eagerly awaiting to see what shape he’s in, because if he can stay under 280, he can resume an NBA career.
– Robert Swift: Swift showed some signs of life in his second year in the league. He showed some offensive talent, activity (that old chestnut) and defensive mobility, and averaged roughly 6/5/1 as a 20-year-old centre. And that’s not bad going. Then he grew his hair out, got tatted up, started to get weird in lay-up lines, and severely screwed up his knee. There followed only eight games in two years, as the knee recovery was repeatedly set back and not helped by other injuries. Swift played last year with the Thunder on his qualifying offer, but was still only healthy/good enough to play in 21 games, averaging 3.3 points and 3.4 rebounds. Danny Ainge finally gets his man, but by this point, he’s probably not going to see in Swift the very things that used to drive him wild with desire. A year in the D-League to recuperate his injuries and revive his CV wouldn’t be a bad idea for Swift, if he can tolerate going from a $3 million+ salary to the mere pittance that D-Leaguers get. But I can’t say his career options are particularly expansive.
– Bill Walker: It seemed the Celtics would do almost anything to not play Walker last year, even after a series of injuries that made the need for an extra forward become of paramount importance. Walker appeared in only 29 games for the Celtics, averaging 7.4 minutes and three points, while in the D-League, he played in 15 games and averaged 18.9 points, demonstrating a better-than-advertised jump shot. He’s certain to be back next season, as he’s signed for three more years and next season’s salary is guaranteed. I just hope that they’ll value his input more this year.
– Darius Washington: Washington had a great training camp with the Bulls last year, a team who then cut him anyway. Ostensibly, this was to save money for a team very close to the tax threshold, but they went on to sign Lindsey Hunter two weeks later and kept him for the entire year. So I think they just preferred the touch of the older man. Washington took the hint and went off to Russia, signing for Ural Great Perm, a team whose name is so brilliant that I can’t help but point it out every type it crops up. Washington averaged 13.1 points per game in the Russian league, and 16.5 more in the EuroChallenge. Like Lofton, Washington worked out for the Grizzlies last month, and yet like Lofton, he came to Boston instead. Maybe they both had bad workouts. Either way, like Lofton, his chances are minimal.