– James Augustine: Something weird happened to James Augustine last year, something which took me a while to figure out. He was drafted by the Magic in the 2006 Draft, and signed a two-year rookie minimum contract with the team. He stayed with the team for the whole two years, barely playing, and was then tendered a qualifying offer when the two years was up. The second year of his first contract was only 25% guaranteed until July 30th, and the rule with qualifying offers is that they have to be at least the same amount of guaranteed money, with the same guarantee dates, as the final season of the previous contract. So when Orlando tendered him a qualifying offer, Augustine accepted it immediately, and was thus under contract for the 2008/09 season for $972,581 (the amount of the QO = minimum salary + $175,000), of which $243,145 (25%) was guaranteed, with a guarantee date of July 30th 2008. Orlando waived him before that date, meaning that they essentially paid Augustine a quarter of a million dollars to have him under contract for two weeks in mid-July. Way to do that “creative financing” thing that you do.
Augustine then went to Spain, where he averaged 7.7 points and 6.1 rebounds in the Spanish league for Gran Canaria.
– Tyrell Biggs: I saw a lot of Biggs in Pittsburgh last year, and it’s tough to say what he was good at. He had a decent set shot, but little interior offence, no finesse, and a bad rebounding rate. He was a decent defensive player, fairly aggressive and physical, but he’s also 6’8 and not of NBA size, so his NBA chances don’t much exist beyond this level. However, I wrote all this in a piece last week, and someone responded by telling that I “didn’t know anything” and that I should “just shut up,” for I did not acknowledge Biggs’ magnanimous and gallant willingness to sacrifice all personal goals for the overall benefit of the team, something which he supposedly did by being a role player for four straight years. I guess one of us is right, at least. Maybe we both are.
– Brandon Costner: Costner averaged 13.3 points, 6.0 rebounds and 1.0 blocks in 29 minutes per game for NC State last season, which isn’t that great compared what his 17/7 sophomore year suggested he might become.
– Chris Davis: Davis averaged 14.8 ppg, 4.3 rpg and 3.1 apg for Southern University last season. He shot 41% from the field. He will play pro, but he’s not making this team. Let’s move on.
– Taj Gibson: Gibson will make the team, no doubt, but he’s going to have to play well to win over Bulls fans, who remain bitterly mad at him for not being Dejuan Blair. (And if you’ve read my draft diary, you’ll know that I’m one of them. I’ll back off of this stance soon, though.) If he can show some offensive skill, some pick-and-roll defence, and the ability and/or desire to rebound, then we will begin to cope accordingly.
– Taurean Green: Green spent one year in the NBA, splitting the 2007/08 season between Portland (the team that drafted him) and Denver (who traded him for Von Wafer to save some money at the deadline). Denver traded him to New York last summer as a part of the Renaldo Balkman deal, but New York wanted him only for his salary and he was waived instantly. Green then spent last year in Spain playing for CAI Zaragoza, averaging 10.7 points and 2.0 assists functioning largely as a specialist shooter. The Bulls could use a specialist shooter, which gives Green a chance, but they also already have Anthony Roberson, which might wee on Green’s strawberries.
– Julius Hodge: Hodge was playing like LeBron James in Australia last season, averaging 26.3 ppg, 8.0 rpg and 6.0 apg for the Adelaide 36ers, before leaving the team due to a pay dispute. That was his version of events, at least; his team doesn’t necessarily agree. Although given Australian basketball’s current problems with solvency, I tend to believe him. Either way, it ended acrimoniously, and Hodge closed out the year in France, averaging 12.4 ppg, 5.7 rpg and 6.1 apg for Besancon in France. His shot is still broke, though – he hit only two three-pointers combined in the Australian and French leagues (who employ the shorter three-point line, remember), and was also a combined 55% shooter from the free throw line between the two. This probably keeps him out of the NBA once again.
– Linton Johnson: Johnson was a signing for the Bulls late last season as some emergency playoff depth, and played a few minutes decently. He started his career with the Bulls, and was better with them this time around than last time, so that was nice. However, he doesn’t have much chance of coming back to the team – Luol Deng’s return from injury, as well as the draftings of Johnson and Gibson, just took any potential minutes that the old Lintonian could have had.
– Nick Lewis: Lewis has been a professional for three years, and has spent at least part of all three of them in the D-League. Last year, for the Bakersfield Jam, he averaged 15.0 points and 7.2 rebounds, while shooting 48% from the field, 38% from the three-point line and 83% from the foul line. He also has a nice full head of blonde hair. If he could play defence at this level, he might have had a shot in the NBA before now. But he is not an NBA athlete. So he hasn’t.
– Lorenzo Mata-Real: Mata-Real played on the Lakers’ summer league team last year, as did about 48 other people, where he challenged Ruben Wolkowyski for the “most foul-prone summer league performer of the decade” award. He showed size and that he could board, block and box out, but it all looked a little quick for him. Prior to that, Mata-Real had averaged more rebounds than points in two of his three seasons in college, not a good thing when you consider that he only averaged four rebounds. In Mexico last year, Mata-Real averaged all of 9.0 points and 5.3 rebounds, and remember that that was in the Mexican league. He’s a 6’8 interior player to boot. The Mexican league will be an option for a decade, but, where’s the NBA resumé here?
– Bryan Mullins: Mullins, a good defensive guard with a jump shot, was briefly covered in the Celtics round-up. Then again, I didn’t really say anything there either.
– DeMarcus Nelson: Nelson has an unguaranteed contract with the Bulls next season, even though he didn’t play in a single game with them last year. He was brought in at the very end of the year as defensive cover at the shooting guard position in case of emergencies, but wasn’t needed. The Bulls are supposedly renewing their focus on defensive abilities with their personnel this season, and could as always use a bigger defensive-minded guard. So Nelson has a chance of making the team again, unless his lack of half-court offensive usage is deemed too painful on a team that was never great at offence in the first place and that just let its leading scorer of the last four years walk away in free agency. (It still stings a bit, this. Although I wouldn’t have paid him $11.6 million a year either.)
– Anthony Roberson: I fleshed out Roberson’s chances of making the roster in this Chicagonow.com piece. And remember; you can catch all Bulls news and views, including Anthony Roberson goodness, at chicagonow.com. Go go go go go!
– Josh Shipp: Shipp just finished his fifth season at UCLA, getting a medical redshirt in 2005/06 due to a bad hip injury. In his senior season, he averaged 14.5 ppg on 50% shooting, which is pretty good from a shooting guard.
– A.D. Vassallo: Considering that the Bulls need shooters (see the Roberson link), Vassallo has a chance. Vassallo averaged 19.1 points, 6.2 rebounds and 2.6 assists in his senior season for Virginia Tech, shooting 45% from the field, 37% from three-point range and 83% from the line. His major assets are his good size and strength, and a jump shot that has legitimate NBA three-point range. Since leaving school, Vassallo has been back in his native Puerto Rico, averaging 12.5 points, 6.7 rebounds and 4.3 assists for Caguas in the Puerto Rican BSN league (which takes place during most other league’s offseasons). If he was 6’8, he’d probably in the league, and if he was as fast as John Salmons, he’d probably in the league. But he’s neither of those, so he’s not in the league. Europe will love him, though.
– Luke Zeller: Zeller did little at four years in Notre Dame, rebounding badly, playing little defence, and being a specialist jump-shooter. He turned a fine high school career (he was formerly Indiana’s Mr Basketball) into an underwhelming college career; Zeller averaged 4.9 points and 2.8 rebounds in his senior season, both of which were nevertheless career-highs. He worked out for the Bulls before the draft, albeit only because Gonzaga’s Josh Heytvelt missed a flight, yet went undrafted anyway. Shooting fives are rare, but given he has not proven he can defend at levels below this, let alone this one, Zeller’s NBA prospects are even slimmer his left leg. His best chance in the NBA seems to be if some team out there gets confused and thinks that his first name is spelt with a “Tyler” (his superior younger brother currently at North Carolina). Or if his last name is spelt with a “Schenscher“.