– Joe Alexander: If you had expected the Joe Alexander/Scott Skiles marriage to end well for Joe Alexander, then…..well, you’re wrong Alexander is going to be a hollow shell of his former self, destroyed, a broken man, by the time he gets free from Skiles’s leadership. Skiles is a great defensive coach with the permanently contrite face of an “angry-looking man” (a real quote, yet sadly not mine), but if there’s one thing he hates, it’s players who repeatedly make defensive mistakes. And Joe Alexander is a player that repeatedly makes defensive mistakes. John Hammond, do yourself a favour, and trade Alexander while you can still get someone like the calibre of J.J. Hickson for him. Because if you don’t do it now, you’ll only get less later.
(It also didn’t help Alexander that he supposedly receive an in-house suspension from his team for digging all up in one of the cheerleaders, which is depressingly against the rules.)
– Paul Delaney: In part three of my exceptionally long draft diary (no one really read parts two and three; I might have to make it about 9,000 words shorter next season), I mentioned how I had seen Robert Vaden of UAB play one game, a game in which he shot 0-17. Well, Paul Delaney was Vaden’s backcourt mate at UAB, and last year he averaged 16.1 ppg to Vaden’s 17.6 ppg, on 9.8 FGA per game to Vaden’s 15.4 FGA per game, on 5.8 FTA per game to Vaden’s 2.9 FTA per game, on 56% shooting to Vaden’s 40% shooting. Indeed, only one other player in UAB’s small rotation shot over 45% – 6’8 junior forward Howard Crawford. Delaney led his team in field goal percentage, steals and assists, while being second in scoring and fourth in rebounds. Yet Vaden is the one that gets drafted. Alrighty.
– Dominic James: James isn’t actually going to be with the Bucks summer league team. He was initially announced as a part of the roster, but he sprained his ankle sufficiently badly that he can’t now play, and had to be replaced. This is the same guy who broke his foot down the stretch of his senior season, with his team making an NCAA Tournament run, and finally killing his already-tenuous draft stock. He can’t catch a break, it seems. And I totally intended that pun.
– Brandon Jennings: I want to like Brandon Jennings. How can anyone not? It’s the year 2009, yet Jennings still rocks out a hi-top fade with a slight mohawk finish. That’s to be applauded. However, considering Jennings’ poor play last year, his less-than-humble quotes from before draft night and that whole Joe Budden thing, he’s making himself harder to like. Nonetheless, I’m open-minded about this. So wow me, BJ.
– Amir Johnson: Amir Johnson has now played four years in the NBA and he’s still going to summer league. You can argue that this is just so that he gets familiar with the team, and they with he, but perhaps he’s going to summer league because he still plays like a rookie. He still fouls at a ridiculous rate, and his offensive skills still don’t really exist. And that’s a guy you’re paying $3,941,667 to next year. Good luck to you with that, but I’d temper those expectations, because potential has to become reality at some point.
– Luc Richard Mbah A Moute: If Joe Alexander is emblematic of the Scott Skiles regime, then so is the Fresh Prince. Offensively challenged (his eFG on jump shots last year was .318%), Mbah A Moute nonetheless played big minutes at three positions due to his defensive skills, versatility, and ability to not make too many mistakes. Many of these minutes came at the expense of Alexander, whose offensive upside had to defer to Mbah A Moute’s defensive abilities, even when mired in a 34-win season. It’s no knock on LRMAM, who’s a straight baller, but that’s just the Skiles way. It’s going to work, too, when the Bucks make the playoffs next year. But after that, brace yourself, because his shelf life is usually short.
– Will McDonald: McDonald will be 30 before next season starts, and he’s still never made the NBA. He’s had a few summer league stints (the Warriors in 2003, the Heat in 2004, the Celtics in 2005) but he’s never signed in the NBA, not even for training camp. It’s not held him back though, as he has turned in a good European career on some big-name teams. As evidence of that, last year McDonald was the starting centre for Tau Ceramica, and averaged 9.1 points and 4.4 rebounds in the EuroLeague. McDonald is not a good rebounder, but he can score the ball from the mid-range and in. And if you’re an offensively skilled 6’10 American, the NBA will pay some attention to you.
– Jodie Meeks: Meeks has already signed a three -year contract, where he will back up Charlie Bell, the back-up to Michael Redd. Those two large contracts will expire eventually, so there’s hope yet for Meeks ever seeing the court.
– Juan Palacios: Someone asked me for a Juan Palacios update back in January. So I gave them one. (Remember, I take requests.) Nothing really changed since then; Palacios’ end of season averages were basically the same, and he’s continued his four-year long trend of declining production. Palacios also appeared on the Kings summer league roster last year, but he played all of three minutes. They took a few too many players, to be honest. 17 players for five games is a bit much.
– Chris Richard: The Minnesota Timberwolves have had a lot of bigs over the last two years. They currently have eight under contract (Kevin Love, Al Jefferson, Craig Smith, Mark Madsen, Oleksiy Pecherov, Brian Cardinal, Darius Songaila, Etan Thomas), and have Shelden Williams and Jason Collins as unrestricted free agents. They just drafted Henk Norel in the second round, took Nikola Pekovic the year before, and took Loukas Mavrokefalidis in the 2006 draft. They’ve recently had illicit liaisons (however unsatisfying and brief) with Wayne Simien, Michael Doleac, Juwan Howard, Antoine Walker, John Edwards, Paul Shirley and Vin Baker, And in last year’s training camp, they brought in former first-round picks David Harrison and Rafael Araujo to fight for a spot. It’s probably not surprising, then, that Chris Richard got squeezed out.
Richard was waived in last year’s training camp – along with Araujo and Harrison – in favour of Jason Collins and Kevin Ollie, which probably destroyed his soul. He then went to the D-League, becoming the first overall pick of the D-League draft by the Tulsa 66ers. Richard then turned in a couple of months averaging 12.0 points and 8.3 rebounds, got named to the All Star team, before breaking a bone in his back in late January. This represents his comeback. He’s never going to be a Buck, though, because while the Bucks would love to be able to salary-dump Dan Gadzuric, Francisco Elson and Malik Allen, they likely can’t. And therefore there’s no roster spot available for him.
– Salim Stoudamire: Why did the Bucks sign Salim Stoudamire? I don’t know. They signed him in early April, just before the end of the season, and then never played him in any games. He signed through 2010, too, and even though the contract is not fully guaranteed, he’s now on the books for a minimum salary greater than it would be if they signed him this summer instead (due to the league’s reimbursement scheme thingy). More importantly, they simply didn’t need him, and now that they’ve drafted Meeks, they really don’t need him. So why is he still here? I don’t know, but I’m glad he is.
– Szymon Szewczyk: Szewczyk must be a popular surname in Poland, because there’s at least five of them on the professional basketball circuit. (Games of Scrabble must be brilliant over there, too.) Szewczyk was a Bucks second-round draft choice way back in 2003, whom they’ve never signed at any point, and whose draft rights they therefore still own. Most unsigned second-rounders never signed in the NBA because they were never good enough (e.g. Ramon van de Hare), but Szewczyk’s not had a bad career. Last year for Lokomotiv Rostov in Russia, he averaged 12.1 points and 5.9 rebounds in 24 minutes per game, numbers that improved to 14.3 points and 7.1 rebounds in the EuroChallenge. He’s soon to be 27 years old, and his hairline has started to go, but he’s done all right for himself, regardless of the non-existence of his NBA career.
– Mohammed Tangara: Tangara was named as the late replacement for Dominic James, and he’s nothing like James. He’s….well, he’s a hard one to find anything out about.
Here’s what I’ve got: Tanagara is from Mali (it’s a country, geography fans!) and attended Mount Zion Christian Academy from 2003-04, the school more famous for churning out Tracy McGrady amongst others. From there, he went on to spend four years at Arizona, where his best statistical season saw him rocket up the scoreboards with averages of 1.6 ppg and 1.0 rpg. He scored 39 points total in his four-year Arizona career, with 34 of them coming in his sophomore campaign back in 2005/06. Then, via means I’m not entirely sure of (presumably he got a redshirt in there somewhere), Tangara played a fifth season last year with the Chaminade Silverswords, a Division II team that you’ve probably never heard of. Once there, he averaged 14.4 ppg and 8.7 rpg, shooting 57% from the field and 83% from the foul line. He finally did something, even if he had to go to Division II to do it.
Tangara is 25 years old next month, and measures in at roughly 6’8 and 248 pounds-ish. Which part of that back story is NBA calibre? You tell me. But I like the optimism.
Tangara’s official website carries the amusing slogan, “Now Is The Time For Redemption,” which would imply that Tangara is either a devoted Christian or a future homicidal maniac with delusion of religious grandeur. You decide.
– Lorrenzo Wade: Wade is a decent-sized swingman who doesn’t rebound, is a mediocre three-point shooter and who turns it over way too much. He’s a decent athlete and slasher, who gets buckets through strength and guile, but so do many players at the NBA level. And most of them don’t have those other flaws. What I’m saying to you here is that Wade is very much up against making the team.