At the start of the month, over the course of three posts united by the overused theme of Alec Baldwin’s monologue from Glengarry Glen Ross, I attempted to analyse and predict the training camp rosters of every team in the NBA.
For the hell of it, here’s the monologue again:
Preseason is now over, and rosters have been set. Here are my predictions again, along with a depressing look at their whimpering inaccuracy and some half-baked excuses for my own failings as a person.
Predicted to make it: “Dixon, Wilks, Siler. Or any two from three.”
Actually made it: Hunter only.
Excuses: The Hawks needed an extra guard, hence why they signed four of them. So expecting them to sign at least one of them seemed logical; I guess they decided Dixon hasn’t enough left. As for the Siler/Sims thing, it never did make a whole lot of sense for the team with Randolph Morris at fourth string centre to be bringing in two more for training camp, but Siler and Sims represent two of the best American centre prospects not currently in the NBA, so I figured one of them had a chance. Guess not.
Excuses: Reports came out that stated that the Celtics really liked Sweetney, and tried to find a way to keep him on the roster, but they eventually decided that he wasn’t worth eating someone else’s guaranteed money for. And they’re probably right. If ever Sweetney gets it together, loses all the weight and finds a mentor that gets him to dedicate himself to the game, some team will have themselves a fringe starter/quality backup, the kind of player that shouldn’t be readily available. But it’s not happened yet.
Excuses: When I said “neither,” I was referring to Anderson and Graham, and hadn’t factored in Jefferson. I should have done, really, especially after the Bobcats signed Ronald Murray. Why they want Stephen Graham, I don’t know; they already have enough small forward options, and Graham will do no better of a job masquerading as a power forward than the rest of them. But at the very least, he’s the most talented of the bunch.
Excuses: Byars made it briefly, but was waived on opening day. He still hasn’t appeared in an NBA game. He did as much as he could do in preseason, and played well enough to win the spot, but the finances of the situation got the getter of him. And they were always going to, in fairness.
Predicted to make it: “Jackson gets cut, Williams and Green survive, Karl and Kurz make the team.”
Actually made it: Williams, Green, Jackson, Karl.
Excuses: Three for four’s not bad, but the Cavaliers decided to keep Jackson over the rangier power forward Kurz. I’m not sure they should have done, since Kurz fills a role that the Cavs don’t otherwise have, while Jackson somewhat replicates a slower J.J. Hickson. But since they’re vying for the 14th-man spot, it’s probably not important anyway.
Excuses: Dallas apparently wanted to keep Voskuhl, and tried to open a roster spot for him. They got halfway there when they traded Nathan Jawai to the Timberwolves, but they didn’t complete a trade/buyout of Shawne Williams’s contract in time, so Voskuhl lost out. He’s rumoured to be headed to the Kings.
Excuses: The Nuggets need an extra shooter, and Graham is a poor one. White isn’t much of one either, but he’s nonetheless comfortably better at it than Graham, and would have cost the same. Graham also doesn’t really bring anything different to what Renaldo Balkman does, and so that’s why I didn’t fancy his chances. But then the story came out about how the Nuggets were at one time willing to trade Linas Kleiza for Graham. And at that point, it was over.
Predicted to make it: “Probably neither, unless Atkins shows there’s still a spark on the fire. If there is, he needs to throw a log on it.”
Actually made it: Atkins did, Washington didn’t.
Excuses: As described here, Washington shouldn’t have been a candidate to be waived. But he was, as Atkins apparently showed there was still a spark in the fire, enough of one for Washington to be needlessly waived.
Excuses: This one was a bit obvious. The Warriors’ only non-guaranteed contract is that of Anthony Morrow, and not even the Warriors could get that one wrong. By the way, have you noticed that their four acquisitions via trade and free agency this summer were Mikki Moore, Devean George, Acie Law and Speedy Claxton?
Predicted to make it: “[Brent] Barry waived, Pops makes the team.”
Actually made it: Barry was waived, Pops made the team.
Excuses: The downside to this, as mentioned, was that it leaves the Rockets with only two point guards, and none of the players on the roster can really masquerade as one. Shane Battier did it a tiny bit in his rookie year, but that was a long time ago, and it wasn’t a good idea even then. Nonetheless, that’s not a need until it’s actually a need. And since the Rockets are a team made up of glue guys with few offensive creators anyway, what good would keeping an inactive list point guard do for that?
Predicted to make it: “None of them will make it, because the Pacers already have 15 contracts.”
Actually made it: None of them made it, because the Pacers already had 15 contracts.
Excuses: The only possible way in for the camp invites was if they could outplay Luther Head and/or A.J. Price, whose contracts are not fully guaranteed. But a slew of injuries at the guard spots saw those two play big minutes in preseason, and they played them rather well. So even though Benson did well in his audition, the numbers were against him once again.
Predicted to make it: “If Gelabale proves his health, he will make the team. If he does not, none of them will.”
Actually made it: None of them.
Excuses: Tony Gaffney put on a damn good charge for the spot, but unfortunately, his minimum salary was deemed to be too much. Here’s the thing, though; the Lakers stated their intentions early to have only a 13-man roster this season, due to them currently having the biggest payroll in the league. As such, the camp invites never really a had a chance. Why, then, did they bring so many in? Even when someone (Gaffney) won you over enough to want to keep him as a player, you still couldn’t do it, because the finances dictated the situation. So then why bring in players like Fey, who have no chance of making the roster, since all they can do is get injured and hamstring your finances? Don’t get this.
I also don’t get why a team that absolves itself of all youth chooses to own its own D-League affiliate; the Lakers currently have no players eligible for assignment down there.
Predicted to make it: “If they [do not buyout Marko Jaric], I predict Gilder will make it; if they open a second spot, I predict Gilder and Taylor make it.”
Actually made it: They didn’t buyout Jaric, thus keeping only one; Gilder.
Excuses: Sorry about completely missing out on news of the Thomas Gardner waiving for the best part of three weeks. I’m not as good at this as I was in my youth, and am just simply not eighteen years old any more.
Also, it appears that Steven Hunter is actually healthy to play, appearing in multiple preseason games and playing nine minutes on debut tonight. He hasn’t played well at all yet, but he’s playing, thus making me responsible for yet more misinformation. Sorry about this as well.
Excuses: I chose that order pretty much solely on the basis of the Heat’s depth chart; they needed help at the point guard and power forward spots, and while Randolph was the best power forward option, Lucas was the only point guard option. The Heat clearly saw that too, and surprised us all by bringing in Arroyo partway through preseason. Didn’t see it coming. A good move, though.
Predicted to make it: “If and when the buyouts with [Antonio] Daniels and Mark Blount are finalised, the Wolves will have two roster spots. At that point, they’ll need a point guard, which bodes well for Hart. Releasing Blount will leave the Timberwolves with only five big men, two of whom are Brian Cardinal and Oleksiy Pecherov (whom, since they’re expiring, are also slim possibilities for being released, as is Damien Wilkins). So that gives Reiner a chance. I’m predicting him and Hart.”
Excuses: Apparently I can’t count; they needed only to release Daniels to open two spots, which they did. A buyout of Blount wasn’t finalised in time, but my logic was at least right; Minnesota opted to keep a point guard and a big. They kept Hart, but decided to bring in Jawai over Reiner. Hadn’t considered that a possibility at the time. But it’s probably best.
Excuses: The Nets didn’t have any roster space, they won’t spend any money this year, and none of the three has obvious NBA talent. They liked Hamilton, in the same way that all teams love defensive-minded athletic forwards, but they didn’t have any roster space. So this one was self-explanatory.
Predicted to make it: “The Hornets could use someone with centre size, particularly if they’re going to pawn [Hilton] Armstrong off to the Clippers as I’m predicting they’ll do between now and February. As such, they could use Barron, and any and all frontcourt offence is welcome. But despite all their cost-cutting moves this summer, the Hornets are still over the tax (hence the Armstrong suggestion). So even if they freed up a roster spot by salary-dumping Devin Brown or whoever, any additional signing would then cost them double. And is Earl Barron worth that? No. So for that reason, he’s out. (Owens is out too, and I guarantee I’ll be right about him this time. Hopefully.)” [A long-winded way of saying ‘neither of them.’]
Actually made it: Neither of them.
Excuses: Same as the Nets; the Hornets have no roster space and no money.
Excuses: Strangely, the free-spending Knicks opted to keep a roster spot open instead of keeping an unguaranteed 15th man. This was kind of unexpected. Also unexpected was Marcus Landry’s blazing-hot three-point stroke; he first demonstrated one in summer league, but after a four-year career of only decent shooting on few attempts at Wisconsin (with the shorter three-point line), him being such a fine shooter is perhaps unexpected. But it’s what’s kept him around.
Predicted to make it: “It should be just Harris, but for some I suspect it’ll be just Ruffin. Maybe I’m too cynical.”
Actually made it: Bowen only.
Excuses: Not cynical enough, apparently. I respect Ryan Bowen, because any man who can keep getting jobs in an athletic field where he’s athletically underqualified is clearly doing something so very very right. But why he keeps getting these gigs, and why NBA executives are so enamoured with players who understand the nuances of defence in lieu of having any offensive talent, I will never understand. Good luck to him, though.
Predicted to make it: “I’m going to go ahead and say they’ll keep them, even though they probably won’t. (If that makes sense.)”
Actually made it: Neither of them.
Excuses: No idea what I just said here, but apparently Orlando isn’t willing to spend any more on luxuries after all. And why should they? They’ve got enough talent right now to win the NBA title. A strong inactive list will change nothing.
Predicted to make it: “In spite of needing a shooter more urgently, they’ve got to keep Swift. It matters not that they have [Primoz] Brezec, Marreese Speights and the returning Jason Smith: you can never have too much frontcourt depth. And even if he didn’t show it for the Suns, Stromile is great frontcourt depth. This is more of a plea than a prediction.”
Actually made it: No one.
Excuses: Stromile was injured in preseason, which will have factored, but seemingly the Sixers don’t rate him as much as I do. Apparently not many people do. Has he really fallen off this much between the ages of 28 and 29? I find it hard to believe. We’ll wait and see, though.
Actually made it: None of them, as Patrick Mills was unexpectedly signed towards the end of preseason.
Excuses: Nate McMillan wanted to keep Udoka really badly, and if the Blazers had been able to foresee Nicolas Batum’s injury, then maybe Udoka would have stayed. As it is, Mills gets a spot, despite currently being injured and having no short-term role on the team. (I still think it’s possible that Mills accepted his tender offer without the Blazers wanting him to, as this would explain the very weird timing of the signing. If this is true, or even if it’s not true, please let me know.)
Predicted to make it: “As a result, neither player will make the team, as the Kings are already carrying the minimum of 13 players. It also doesn’t help that neither is NBA calibre.”
Actually made it: Neither of them.
Excuses: Once again, I can’t count; the Kings had 14 players at the time, and still do. Desmond Mason made the team even in spite of his unguaranteed contract, and although he joins a stacked small forward rotation (weakened a bit by Francisco Garcia’s freak physio-ball injury), he always had the talent to make it.
Predicted to make it: “There’s not enough room for Jones, and after the signing of [Keith] Bogans, the Spurs’ wing positions just got full as well. Jerrells might be the least dynamic of the bunch, but the depth chart is most in his favour, so I vote for him.”
Actually made it: Hairston.
Excuses: Jerrells’ position and amount of guaranteed money certainly made his chances look promising. Instead, though, it seems he’s going to join Hairston and Williams in the Spurs’ juggling act between the big league team and the Austin Toros, getting pay checks here and there as incentive to hang around with the Toros and essentially extend the Spurs’ roster to 18 players. It’s sneaky, but it’s totally legitimate. This, Lakers, is how you’re supposed to use an affiliate.
Predicted to make it: “If [there’s] only one [spot available], I vote for Matthews. If it’s two, I vote for Matthews and Suton. If it’s three, I vote for Matthews, Suton and Dupree. If it’s none, shame.”
Actually made it: It was one, and it was Matthews.
Excuses: Utah had the same sort of thing going on as the Lakers – open roster spots, but a huge payroll, and not a whole lot of incentive to keep someone on. However, unlike the Lakers, the Jazz had injuries; Matt Harpring will almost certainly never play again, and C.J. Miles is out for a while after thumb surgery. As such, they needed an extra player, which is where all the auditions came in. And Matthews did enough of everything
It’s going to look like I’m just saying this because he’s made the team, so please trust me that I’m not; I always thought Matthews was underrated at Marquette last year. Maybe he does nothing exceptional, but he does everything pretty well, and he doesn’t look as athletically disadvantaged as advertised. There should always be a place for players who are solid at everything. There should be less places for players who are only good at the defensive “little things.”
I am continuously intrigued by the esoterica and minutiae of all the aspects of building a basketball team. I want to understand how to build the best basketball teams possible. No, I don’t know why, either.