Macedonian sensation Darius Washington stayed close to his homeland this season when he signed with Turkish team Galatasaray. He averaged 21.6 points (third-best in the league) and 4.5 assists (eighth-best) per game in the EuroCup, alongside 15.4 points and 3.0 assists per game in the Turkish league. Last month, with Galatasaray out of the running in the Turkish league, Washington moved to Italy to join Lottomatica Roma for the last few games of the Serie A regular season, but didn’t play as much, and averaged only 5.0 ppg as Roma were swept 3-0 by Caserta.
Washington was drafted by the Pistons with the penultimate pick in the 2008 draft, and signed in 2009. Detroit then waived him before the season started in a move that made absolutely no sense on the surface. Washington subsequently went to the D-League – you can afford to do that when an NBA team is cutting you a $250,000 check – and was drafted third overall in the D-League draft by the L.A. D-Fenders. Only eight games later, though, Washington was traded to the Tulsa 66ers for backup big man Keith Clark; in 49 combined games between the two teams, Washington averaged 11.1 points, 4.5 rebounds and 1.9 assists in 26 minutes per game. He also shot only 30% from three point range, and also committed 1.9 turnovers per game, a high amount of turnovers for a man who doesn’t really dribble.
This was basically a gap year for Darryl Watkins. He started it in camp with the Cavaliers, and was one of their last cuts before moving to the D-League and being assigned to the Iowa Energy; however, he started to suffer from plantar fasciitis before the season began and never played a game for the team. He never played for any team, in fact, and has missed the entire season.
Darryl Watkins fact: Darryl Watkins’s middle name is Finesse. That’s pretty awesome.
Veteran Watkins has spent quite a lot of his career in Asia, and spent another year there this time around. He played for Jiangsu in China, and averaged 15.6 points and 9.6 rebounds in only 29 minutes per game. He has not played since the CBA season concluded, however; despite playing in Puerto Rico last summer, Watkins has not done the same this time. Not yet, at least.
Since leaving Virginia in 2003, Watson has never made the NBA in any capacity beyond summer league. He’s had a decent European career, though, mostly in Italy and Greece. This year, Watson moved to Lithuania to play for Zalgiris, and that move led to his finest achievement yet; he led the EuroLeague in rebounds. Watson averaged 10.6 points and 9.5 rebounds in only 24 minutes per game, beating Aleks Maric into second place at only 8.4 rpg. The rest of the top ten is rounded out by former NBA players or former NBA draft picks; Lawrence Roberts, Linas Kleiza, Robertas Javtokas, Viktor Khryapa, Qyntel Woods, Mario Kasun, Mike Batiste and Antonis Fotsis. Watson also averaged 14.2/8.3 in the Baltic league, 7.0/5.8 in the Lithuanian league and 12.8/10.2 in the VTB United League, and is pretty much good for a double-double whichever European league he’s playing in. In fact, he kind of resembles a slightly taller…
Weatherspoon was waived by the Rockets in training camp 2005, which marked the end of a 13-year career. In retirement, he’s created a record label, 35*35 Entertainment. And unlike most other labels started by former NBA players, some of Clarence’s artists have Wikipedia pages. Because that’s when you know you’ve made it; when you have a Wikipedia page. That’s my aim, at least. It also unfortunately only has two Facebook fans, but who uses Facebook these days anyway?
Webber retired from basketball in March 2008 after an unsuccessful short stint with the Warriors. He now works as an analyst for NBA TV, along with the occasional TNT appearance. Webber’s restaurant outside the ARCO Arena in Sacramento abruptly closed in November, but he’s supposedly writing a book, and he’s also active in business, owning both Maktub LLC (which builds things) and Full Bloom Marketing (which markets things). He also released an album back in 1999. I would love to know what that’s like.
Weis is into the twilight of his career now. In much the same way that salmon return to their place of birth before they die, European basketball players often go back to their first team to finish their careers. This is what Weis has done. He played with French team Limoges between 1995 and 2000 (and was there when he was drafted in the NBA in 1999); now, after nine years in Spain, Weis has returned to Limoges to end his career.
Limoges are not a strong French team any more; they went bankrupt in 2000 (a precursor to Weis’s departure), were relegated because of it, and even though they won promotion back to the ProA almost immediately, they got relegated again in 2004 and simultaneously went bankrupt again, this time resulting in demotion all the way down to the N1 (which is essentially division three). They are now back into the ProB, though, and with a little help from Weis, finished second only to the fallen giant Pau Orthez. In the playoffs, they are currently 1-0 up over Nanterre in the semi-final stages, with a Limgoes/Pau match-up looking inevitable.
However, to give you an example of what has become of Weis, he received a DNP-CD in game one, and has averaged only 4.1 points and 5.6 rebounds on the season while backing up journeyman John Ford. Weis is only 32, but it’s an old 32, and he never developed an offensive game. The Rockets still own his draft rights, and could use a big defensive centre, but I don’t think Weis will be it.
If things were different, Bonzi Wells would be under contract in the NBA for about $8 million right now. As it is, he’s out of basketball.
Wells last played in the NBA in the 2007-08 season. He started the year with the Rockets in the second season of the two year, $5 million deal he signed with the team in summer 2006, the best offer he could get after declining a five year, $38.5 million extension from the Kings a few weeks earlier. (Whoops.) He was traded to the Hornets at the 2008 deadline, in a move that had far greater ramifications for the Hornets than is perhaps realised – for a two month rental of Wells, New Orleans traded Adam Haluska, Marcus Vinicius, a 2008 second-round draft pick and Bobby Jackson, receiving Bonzi and Mike James in return. Haluska, Vinicius and the pick (later used on Maarty Leunen) were irrelevant, but the inclusions of Jackson and James were very significant. Put simply, Jackson was expiring in 2009 and James wasn’t.
The addition of James’s contract to Nawlins’s already hefty salary bill was the precursor to the Hornets’ recent series of salary-cutting moves. Whereas Jackson’s expiring contract would have put them under the tax, James’s non-expiring put them back into it. Over the course of the last 12 months, the Hornets have had to make a series of moves to gift away players, just to stay under the tax. The Hornets have had to move Rasual Butler, Hilton Armstrong, Bobby Brown and Devin Brown to save money; none of those players are very good, and are not rotation calibre (Butler excepted), yet it is representative of the problematic fact that the Hornets can’t afford to improve, and as such, they’ve gotten worse. (Even their big moves, such as Tyson Chandler for Emeka Okafor, saved short-term money. This was not a coincidence.)
The Hornets already had a fragile salary structure after their novelty oversized contracts to Peja Stojakovic, James Posey and Morris Peterson. They knew they didn’t have much to spend, yet they took on Mike James’s contract knowing that it would inhibit their ability to spend any more. James himself was turned into Antonio Daniels, which didn’t really change anything as his salary was almost identical; however, Daniels too had to be traded to save money, and was dealt in the offseason for Darius Songaila and Bobby Brown. That trade saved New Orleans about $1.2 million this season and provided another valuable step to avoiding the luxury tax, which they eventually did – however, Songaila’s contract was a year longer than Daniels’s. This means that two years have now been added to Bobby Jackson’s initial contract. This will mean a third straight season of frenetic luxury tax dodging, thrifty spending, Sean Marks and minimal depth. They’ll be bailed out soon when Peja expires, but until that time, it’ll be more of the same.
And they got themselves into this hole purely for Bonzi Wells, who played 34 games for them.
Anyway. Moving on.
Since falling out of the NBA in the 2008 offseason, Wells has played in China and Puerto Rico only. He averaged a whopping 34.3 ppg, 8.9 rpg, 4.1 apg and 3.8 spg in 14 Chinese league games before a premature release (giggidy), and playing in only three games for Capitanes de Arecibo in the Liga Americas tournament, averaging 19.7 ppg. He is now claiming to be, in his own words on his Twitter bio, “damn near retired.” The lesson, as always; negotiate hard, but don’t lose perspective on what your true market value is. Doing so has cost Bonzi over $30 million.
Welsch left the NBA four years ago and has been with Unicaja Malaga ever since. This year, he averaged 6.9 points and 3.3 rebounds per game in the EuroLeague, and is averaging 6.1 points and 2.4 rebounds per game in the ACB. His minutes went down however when Malaga picked up Gary Neal for the stretch run; in game two of their semi-final playoff series against Barcelona yesterday, Welsch played only two minutes. Malaga lost and are now 2-0 down.
Wesley fell out of the NBA in October 2007. His non-guaranteed contract was traded twice; first by the Cavaliers to the Hornets for Cedric Simmons, and then onto the Nets for Bernard Robinson and Mile Ilic. The Nets then waived Wesley; in fact, all four players are out of the league now.
In late 2008, Wesley returned to Baylor to complete the degree he was just short of completing back in 1992. He simultaneously worked as a student manager. Wesley completed his degree a year ago, and apart from the continuing efforts of his foundation, news is scarce.