A previous post showed a tizzy featuring Charles Gaines and Du Feng in game two of this year’s CBA Finals. What looked initially to be Gaines dropping Feng cold with a swift and well-placed right hand later emerged to be a flop of the highest order; after a lame headbutt on Gaines, Feng then went down to the ground like he’d been knocked clean out, whereas pictures of the incident showed that Gaines actually open-handed Feng in the mandible. It was a shove more than a punch, and a valid retaliation to a headbutt. So far from being an inevitable suspension, Gaines was absconded from blame. And Feng looked like a big wuss.
Both played in game three. Gaines was not suspended, and Feng (amazingly!) was not dead. Guangdong won the game and took a 3-0 lead in the first to four.
Even though he spent quite a lot of his UCLA career deferring offensively to NBA-calibre scorers, Josh Shipp has plenty of offence of his own. He is currently second in the Turkish TBL in scoring, averaging 19.3 ppg for Bornova (along with 5.6 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 2.0 steals). The Turkish league is not the best in the world, and it’s not got a lot of parity in it, but it’s not a bad one, and scoring 19.3 ppg in it is no small achievement. Shipp is second only to Quincy Douby (23.6 ppg), and ranks just ahead of Mire Chatman (Besiktas, 18.4 ppg), Kedrick Brown (also Bornova, 18.1 ppg), Quinton Hosley (Aliaga, 17.9 ppg) and Lonny Baxter (Besiktas, 17.4 ppg). That list is made up of all Americans, which alludes to the self-fulfilling prophecy that the best Turkish players don’t play in Turkey. But Josh Shipp does, and he plays well.
Shirley has been out of basketball since November 2008, and says he has no desire to get back into it. He now writes a lot, mainly for his own venture, FlipCollective.com. The most viewed entry on the website is the one that describes Paul’s view on Haiti and Haitians. You may have heard about that. It caused a slight ripple, and lost him his part-time freelance music writing gig at ESPN.com.
Siler turned down a training camp invite from the Minnesota Timberwolves, with whom he had played in summer league, to instead sign with the Atlanta Hawks. In hindsight, this may not have been the best decision, since the Hawks had the deeper frontcourt (and had Randolph Morris’s contract guaranteed whether they wanted it to be or not), and after losing out on a roster spot to Jason Collins and Othello Hunter, Siler went to China.
If you didn’t already know, Garret Siler is a ridiculously efficient scorer. In his four seasons at Division II Augusta State, Siler shot no lower than 69% from the field in any season, with his highest being the 79% he shot in his senior season. It’s probably no real surprise then that Siler shot 76% in the CBA this year, averaging 14.1 points and 9.3 rebounds in only 23 minutes per game. I know of no one else that does that.
Siler struggled with fouls all year, averaging 4.2 per game and fouling out in four of Shanghai’s eight playoff games. But the efficiency and offensive rebounding (4.2 per game in such little time) are still there. Just as long as you overlook the 59% free throw shooting.
Wayne Simien played in Spain’s LEB Gold last year. Playing for Caceres, he averaged 16.8 points and 8.2 rebounds on 62% shooting. Then he retired, aged only 26, to become a minister. He also does a lot of keynote speaking now, mainly to impressionable kids.
Simmons fell out of the NBA this past summer without so much as a training camp contract. He first went to Greece to play for Peristeri, but was released before the season started. Simmons then returned to America to join the Idaho Stampede of the D-League, and averaged 14.8 points, 7.1 rebounds and 2.9 blocks in 13 games. He then was bought out of his contract to go to China, where he played 20 games for the Dongguan New Century Leopards and averaged 18.7 points, 8.9 rebounds and 1.8 blocks in 35 minutes per game. After completing the season with the playoffless Leopards, Simmons returned to Greece to try to help Kavala avoid relegation. In two games with the team he has totalled 26 minutes, 8 points and 7 rebounds. Kavala lost both.
Simmons has spent the whole season with Hapoel Jerusalem. He has averaged 13.5 points, 3.4 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game in the Israeli league, alongside a basically-identical 13.6 points, 4.2 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game in the EuroCup. Hapoel were knocked out of the EuroCup at the quarter final stages, and are currently only fifth in the Israeli league. By all accounts, their Israeli head coach (with the least Israeli name ever) Guy Goodes is going to be fired this offseason, blamed for the losses because of his refusal to use his depth adequately. It probably didn’t help anyone that Simmons’ main backup at shooting guard has been the 5’8 Pooh Jeter.
Saint Mary’s graduate Simpson started the year in training camp with the Golden State Warriors. The Warriors seemed to understand how terrible of a rebounding team they are; despite the pace they play at, Golden State grabbed the fewest rebounds per game of any team this season (38.4 rpg, 11th-worst of any team in the last 40 years), with a huge -9.7 rebounding differential. To put that into context, only four other teams had a rebounding differential of worse than -1.8 this season; New Jersey (-4.3), New York (-4.5) and Indiana (-5.1). Golden State grabbed only .444% of all available rebounds, far below Indiana’s second-worst mark of .474%, and even worse than their 2008-09 mark of .472%. And so that’s partly why they brought in Simpson and Shaun Pruitt, two very good rebounders, for training camp.
However, they didn’t make a roster spot available for either player. Nor did they really attempt to. Both were cut. Simpson therefore joined the D-League and was assigned to the L.A. D-Fenders, for whom he averaged 15.5 points, 9.6 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 1.8 steals and 1.4 blocks per game in 30 contests. He was later bought out of his contract to play for the Alaska Aces in the Philippines.
The Philippines basketball season is a bit odd, in that it doesn’t have a regular season like all other leagues do. Instead, teams play a couple of competitions throughout the year, which, while technically of an equal footing, do not have equal prestige within Philippines basketball. The most prestigious one of the two, the Philippines Cup, runs from October to early March. In this year’s Finals, a Simpson-less Aces team (no imports are allowed in the Philippines Cup) lost 4-0 in the finals to the wonderfully-named Purefoods Tender Juicy Giants (who, unfortunately, will be known as the B-Meg Derby Ace Llamados from next season onwards).
The Aces are now playing in the second tournament, the PBA Fiesta Cup, which runs from late March until July. Each team is allowed one import in the Fiesta Cup (or Fiesta Conference), but that import can’t be taller than 6’6. I guess Simpson wore no socks on measuring day. Simpson had a whopping 36 points and 25 rebounds on his debut in the competition, but no statistics can be found for other games.
(As is perhaps obvious, Philippines teams are often if not always named after their corporate sponsors. While looking some of the above stuff up, I found a team called the “Licealiz Shampoo Hair Doctors”. Before that, they were known as “Fash Liquid Detergent”. And before that, they were known as “Hapee Toothpaste”. It simply does not get better than that. God bless the Philippines. Could you imagine if NBA teams started taking the same approach? We could have had the Charlotte Dishcloths, the Toronto Whole Wheat Biscuits and the Oklahoma City Fabric Softener. Tell me that’s not better a million times better than naming teams after television channel owners, mid-90’s film motifs and aggressive weather patterns. You just can’t do it.)
Sims joined Siler at the Hawks’ training camp in October, and, like Siler, he lost out on a roster spot to Hunter and Morris. Like Siler, Sims then went to China, but unlike Siler, Sims dildn’t win a roster spot in tryouts.
Since then, he’s been around the houses. Sims first went to Russia and signed with the fabled CSKA Moscow, but was released after only one game and was replaced with Pops Mensah-Bonsu. He then returned to his former stomping ground when he joined the Iowa Energy of the D-League, but wasn’t as good there as he has been in the past, averaging only 12.4 points, 6.6 tebounds and 3.1 fouls in 19 minutes of 14 games. Sims left the D-League in March to play for the Capitanes of Arecibo – the Puerto Rican team who for some reason have juggled both Puerto Rican BSN play and American minor league PBL play – averaging 9.0 points and 4.4 rebounds in five BSN games. While there, Courtney’s name was erroneously listed on latinbasket.com as something extremely NSFW, which was amusing. However, he again moved team earlier this month when he left Puerto Rico to sign with Charleroi in Belgium. He has averaged 7/7 in his two Belgian league games so far.
Blazers draft pick Sinanovic is being kept far away from Ha Seung-Jin, signed as he is in Spain. Sinanovic has bounced between Unicaja Malaga and their LEB Gold feeder team, Clinicas Rincon Axarquia. He has played all of two games and eight minutes for Malaga, and 31 games for Axarquia. In those 31 games, he has averaged 26 minutes, 13.5 points, 9.1 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game, shooting 62% from the field and 75% from the foul line, making him one of the best players in the LEB Gold. But Sinanovic turns 27 in less than two months. If he was ever going to be NBA ready, he would be doing this with the big league club by now.
Singletary signed with the Philadelphia 76ers for training camp, but had little chance of making the team. He then signed with Spanish EuroLeague team Caja Laboral, on what was initially supposed to be a short-term contract; however, Singletary has ended up sticking with the team for the entire season. This was due in no small part to his January 13th performance; after shooting only 6-27 in his previous six EuroLeague games with the team, Singletary shot 6-8 for 16 points in the final EuroLeague regular season game against CSKA Moscow, also putting up 5 steals in only 15 minutes. Caja Laboral lost anyway, but it was enough to get him the extension.
That was his only double-digit game of the season, however, in all competitions. Singletary has averaged only 3.4 points, 1.7 rebounds and 1.4 assists in 12.6 minutes per game in the EuroLeague, alongside 10.7 mpg/2.4 ppg/1.9 rpg/1.5 apg in the ACB. He is shooting a combined 36% from the field, 33% from three and 52% from the free throw line.
Lithuanian wingman Siskauskas is into his third season with CSKA Moscow, making him Sims’s teammate for about four days. He is averaging 10.9 points, 3.1 rebounds and 1.7 assists in the Russian league (while not playing every game), alongside 13.2 points, 4.1 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game in the EuroLeague. Also, Siskauskas has shot 44% from three-point range in the Superleague, alongside a whopping 56% from there in the EuroLeague. Now aged 31, it’s increasingly less likely that he will ever join the NBA. But just know that he could have done.