Where Are They Now, 2010; Part 5
January 5th, 2010

I was going to write a separate post to describe ways that the Hornets can avoid the luxury tax without trading away David West or anyone important, but I’ve decided that I won’t. Here’s a shorthand version:

1) On trade deadline day, trade Hilton Armstrong and $1.1 million in cash ($922,748 to cover his remaining salary, the rest as an incentive) to the Clippers in exchange for changing the protection on their 2016 second-rounder – already owed to the Hornets from the Rasual Butler deal – from top 55 to top 50. The Clippers gain a free player who may or may not see the court, whilst more importantly earning some cash for their troubles and giving up quite literally the least significant thing imaginable. Meanwhile, the Hornets dump the $2.8 million salary of a player that managed to lose an unloseable backup centre spot to Darius Songaila. That can’t ever be a bad loss.

2) Also on trade deadline day, trade Ike Diogu and $400,000 to the Hawks for the rights to Alain Digbeu. $271,928 of that covers Diogu’s remaining salary; the rest is the Hawks incentive to use an inactive list spot on a player that’s out for the season. And all they lose is a 34-year-old Frenchman. If not the Hawks, Diogu could also be sent to the Grizzlies, Kings, Pistons or Sixers. Whichever.

Trading two surplus players and $1.5 million will save them about $9 million, once tax payments are substituted and rebates added. And you can do so without moving one of your only good players or taking on future salary. If those two deals happen, or ones very similar to them, then expect misplaced bravado.

Failing that, someone competitive will think too much of James Posey, just like the Hornets once did themselves. Ask Dallas. Even if they won’t give you Drew Gooden’s unguaranteed deal, there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot coming between a Shawne Williams and Kris Humphries package. The Lakers might want to know, too, at which point your foundation for a deal is Adam Morrison. Maybe San Antonio bites, using some of their expirings. Either way, you get the idea; the tax is highly dodgable without giving away one of the only three good veterans to do it. Devin Brown’s unnecessary trade kicker need not be a sticking point.

And now for some Where Are They Now action.

Marko Banic

Banic is a Croatian big man playing in Spain. He scores really really ridiculously efficiently, has great touch around the basket, and can hit a jump shot, yet is often out of shape, is a bad rebounder, is not physical and is a poor defensive player. But even though I just made him sound like it, Banic is not really like Eddy Curry. Curry is big, athletic and more awkward. Whereas Banic is short, grounded and smooth.

Playing for Bilbao, Banic is averaging 27.5 minutes, 17.5 points, 4.3 rebounds and 72% shooting in the EuroCup, and 26.0 minutes, 14.3 points, 5.0 rebounds and 67% shooting in the ACB. He doesn’t just do it on layups, either.

So that’s where he is now.


Sean Banks

Banks spent last season in Turkey, signed with Darussafaka. He averaged 13.0 points, 4.9 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game, which are good all-around numbers, but he also shot 21% from three-point range. This wouldn’t have been too bad had three-pointers not accounted for a third of all his shot attempts.

This season, Banks has not played anywhere. He signed in Jordan a couple of weeks ago to play with a team called Zain, who seem to be pursuing lots of former NBA talents this year (more on that later). However, Banks was released soon afterwards as he needed another month to recover from an injury. I don’t know what injury.

Nothing seems to have materialised about Banks’ chances of playing for the British national team. Banks’ father was born in England and still lives there, which entitles him to apply for a British passport, something which he expressed an interest in doing 18 months ago. However, as far as I can tell, he either still hasn’t done it, or it didn’t work out. It would be great if it did.


Stanko Barac

Barac, whose rights are owned by the Pacers, is playing for Caja Laboral in Spain’s ACB. They’re the team that used to be known as Tau Ceramica. Barac tends to get a wriggle on in the ACB; in only 11.8 minutes a game, he averages 7.9 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.5 fouls per game, slowing to a more sedate 5.6 points, 3.9 rebounds and 2.1 fouls in 14.8 minutes per game in the EuroLeague. The number of minutes played isn’t ideal, but when you’ve got Tiago Splitter in front of you, it makes sense.

Stanko Barac’s nickname should be Spanky. Stanko “Spanky” Barac. I like that. Admittedly I like Spanky as a nickname for pretty much everyone – Pau “Spanky” Gasol and Rajon “Spanky” Rondo in particular seem to work will – yet it works particularly well with Barac. In unrelated news, I feel this website is more desirable when it’s a worldwide basketball news aggregator and a not a crap comedy vehicle.


Steven Barber

Barber, who turns 30 in 10 days time, is playing in Mexico. For the Libertadores de Queretaro (which translates as “the Liberators of Queretaro,” I think), Barber averages 14.8 points and 2.7 assists. He takes nine three-pointers a game and hits only 29% of them. Sounds like a bad idea.

The general rule is that we don’t cover 30-year-old 5’10 shoot-first journeyman point guards from the Southland Conference. But Steven Barber appeared on the Knicks training camp roster of 2005. This has obligated me to follow him ever since. It’s a one-off thing.


Omar Barlett

Barlett is signed in Cyprus with a team called Achilleas Kaimakliou. This means there are no statistics for him, because there aren’t any from Cyprus that I can find. I also don’t really know much about Omar Barlett, which kind of craps on any possible trivia ideas. So here’s his back story instead.

Barlett went to college at Jacksonville State, making him possibly the only Jacksonville State player that you’ve ever heard of. He transferred there from junior college, and averaged 15/7 in his senior season. After graduating, he spent two years in Portugal, and three years in Poland, before somehow winding up on the Heat’s 2008 training camp roster. Inevitably, Barlett did not make the team, and he went back to Poland, where last year he averaged only 5 points and 4 rebounds per game. So an NBA redux does not look likely.

How did a 28-year-old 6’8 forward with no NBA-calibre history of success of strength in his CV go from averaging 12/7 in the Polish league to being briefly on an big league roster? I don’t know. But, as both Barlett and Barber have shown, these things can happen. (It’s particularly weird in Barlett’s case, as he wasn’t on any summer league roster, for the Heat nor anyone. Barber was, however, which explains his presence somewhat. Therein lies the advantage of summer league; even if no money is involved, a good performance can get a client to a training camp. And when you’ve got “NBA training camp” on your resumé, you’re going to do better in your non-NBA career. Or, in the case of Omar Barlett, you’re going to go to Cyprus.)

Here is Omar Barlett in a Polish three-point shootout in an arena that didn’t have any available ball racks.

(video removed by uploader)


Jimmy Baron

Rhode Island product Baron took his one major skill – jump shooting – and brought it to a Turkish audience. Baron is Mersin’s designated American shooter this season, taking over from Chris Lofton. That’s not an easy thing to do, because Lofton was awesome in that role last year, averaging 20.2 points per game with both 47 and 61-point outings (shooting a combined 30-42 from three-point range across those two games). However, Baron has been pretty damn good at it himself, averaging 18.8 points and 3.3 rebounds per game in the Turkish league. Baron is shooting 48% from three-point range while taking ten and a half of them a game, and while he’s had no massive Lofton-like explosions (with a season high of only 29), he has shot consistently well. He always does. He probably always will.


Andre Barrett

Barrett was back in the NBA this autumn when he joined the Cleveland Cavaliers for training camp. He then lost the role of inactive list ball-handler to Coby Karl, and could have lost it to Russell Robinson as well. After being released from there, Barrett has not signed elsewhere. It was rumoured that he might go to Napoli in Italy, but…well, that’s not happening any more. More on that Napoli story later.

Does Americans call Autumn “the fall” because of the way “the” leaves “fall” from the trees? If so, oh.


Earl Barron

Barron is in the D-League, waiting for an NBA call-up. He almost got one from the Blazers the other day, and will probably be heard from again at some point. For the Iowa Energy, Barron is averaging 15.1 points and 10.3 rebounds in only 32 minutes per game, with particularly good rebounding numbers for a man who’s always been a bit average at that.

His rebounding numbers may be helped a bit by the Energy’s lack of size, as, despite their team being pretty stacked, their second-biggest player is perimeter orientated Cartier Martin. The starting point guard, Curtis Stinson, is second on the team in rebounds with 6.1 a game. Nevertheless, the Energy also have a rebounding differential of +3, so it’s not a Biedrins-like situation. Barron is shooting only .434% from the field, and was suspended this week for hitting Jared Reiner in the face, but the NBA can probably overlook that second indiscretion.


Jon Barry

Jon Barry retired after the 2006 season. He now works as a commentator for ESPN.

The last time I heard Jon Barry commentate was during the Hawks’ blowout of the Bulls about a month ago. Barry tried to convince the audience that Luol Deng had not realised his superstar potential, while simultaneously highlighting his inability to take anybody off the dribble. Apparently the dislogic between the two things did not hit home. He was also convinced that the reason for the Bulls’ struggles is a lack of post-up offence, seemingly because someone told him this three years ago. “You’ll never get anywhere as a jump shooting team,” says former jump shooting specialist Jon Barry, as Joe Johnson stretches the lead to 32 with a three-point jump shot. Ho hum.

(For the record, you can get absolutely everywhere as a jump-shooting team. You just need to a) be good at jump-shooting, and b) play good defence. The Bulls are only point B intermittently, and they’re woefully short on point A. So there’s your real problems, Jon Barry.)


Brent Barry

Brent, like Jon, is retired. Brent, like Jon, is now a media personality. Brent, unlike Jon, works for NBA TV. Brent is good at it.


Eddie Basden

Basden played last year in Turkey for Mersin, averaging 8.1 points, 4.7 points, 2.1 assists and 2.6 steals per game. The all-around numbers are pretty good, but Basden shot only 24% from three-point range, taking three threes a game. He took 174 two-pointers, 84 three-pointers and 56 foul shots, and ended up totalling 244 points on 258 shots. That’s not good. But then, he always was defense-first.

This year, he waited until December before joining the D-League, acquired by the Austin Toros. The result have been much the same, however; through three games, Basden has averaged 8.0 points, 4.3 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.3 steals, but is shooting only 35% from the field, with 24 points on 26 shots. That’s pretty much how he rolls. He has his uses defensively, but offensively, he doesn’t have many at all.


Macy O’Baston

Baston’s NBA redux over the last three years saw him not play a whole lot, but he did do quite well in the time that he did get. Last season was his worst season, yet even Baston’s worst season was pretty good; he averaged 2.5 points and 2.0 rebounds in 8 minutes per game, and his PER was 12.3. His career PER is 14.4, too, which makes you wonder why he’s only played 831 NBA minutes in three and a bit seasons.

Baston went to camp with the Pistons, but did not make the team. The Pistons decided they wanted both Chucky Atkins and an empty roster spot more than both him and Deron Washington, regardless of how many early season injuries they had. The Pistons are about $11 million short of the luxury tax, have a roster spot open, have had many injuries and need more depth, yet they won’t actually sign anyone to help. They even waived Washington when keeping him cost them nothing until tomorrow. I just…….don’t see the logic.

After being waived by the Pistons, Baston has not signed elsewhere, although there’s rumours of a possible move to Aris in Greece.


Mengke Bateer

Finally, our first of many Chinese Basketball Association updates.

For the most part, the astronomical statistics put up in the CBA are by the import players, almost always American (and almost always black; of the 33 CBA imports this year, only one, Frans Steyn, is white.) The Chinese players don’t really do much; most of them can’t compete in the athletic and physical brand of NBA-style ball that the CBA is trying to recreate. Chinese players largely dominate the point guard spot, but when it comes to scoring and rebounding, they’re almost all overmatched physically.

Bateer is one of the few exceptions; he ranks as one of the few native players that can compete with the import’s statistical domination. Last year for Xinjiang, Bateer averaged 15.5 points, 10.2 rebounds and 4.1 assists; this year, he’s averaging 41.2 minutes, 9.8 points, 11.0 rebounds and 5.0 assists. Three-pointers make up half the shots he takes, and he’s not shooting them well so far this year (24%), but those passing numbers are pretty awesome. Just this very night, Bateer did a Kidd and totalled 7 points, 9 rebounds and 9 assists, and that’s while weighing 300lbs. Bateer was never an NBA talent because he was so damn slow, but he was pretty cool.

Mengke Bateer fact: despite me calling him a native right there, Bateer kind of isn’t. He’s actually an ethnic Mongol, which is why his name doesn’t play by the Chinese rules of naming. This is also why you’ll sometimes see Sun Yue referred to as the first Chinese player to win a championship, even though Mengke was a member of the 2003 Spurs.

Another Mengke Bateer fact; Mengke Bateer has used his immense size to launch a second career in the film industry. The following YouTube clip is a trailer for a film called “Bodyguards and Assassins,” a huge budget film starring many big time Chinese and Hong Kongish stars. In it, Bateer plays a bloody enormous monk.

And here he is in character.

Now that’s a big frigging monk.

Posted by at 9:58 PM