Summer is here, and players are a-moving. The NBA free agency period has not yet begun – and should be pretty epic once it does – but this hasn’t stopped players moving the world over. Here are some of the transactions that may interest you.
– Teams in Australia’s NBL tend to sort out their rosters nice and early, and so even though we’re several months away from the 2010-11 season tipping off, many rosters are all but complete already. Despite him winning the NBL MVP trophy last season, the Townsville Crocodiles have released Corey “Homicide” Williams, and have not named a replacement import, although they have brought in former St. Mary’s big man Ben Allen (who is also currently trying out for the Australian national team.) The Melbourne Tigers have brought home from America another big Aussie centre (Luke Nevill), and have signed Eric Devendorf to score from them after his hugely successful offseason in New Zealand (at least, basketball-wise; Devendorf managed to get arrested for breach of the peace in there). And the Sydney Kings are returning to the NBL after a season out due to financial difficulties, bringing with them Taj McCullough, who had previously been in Latvia with VEF Riga.
– Arvydas Macijauskas, the star Lithuania shooting guard whose NBA career was a short-lived failure, has retired aged only 30. Macijauskas was an All-EuroLeague first teamer in 2004-05 while playing for Tau Ceramica, which led to a big money three-year contract with the New Orleans Hornets; however, he was barely used, and when he was used, it was only as a third string point. Since that time, Macijauskas has spent the last two seasons on the shelf, rehabilitating an assortment of injuries including left Achilles and calf injuries, as well as a spinal hernia. Macijauskas has also been embroiled in an unpretty contract dispute with Olympiacos that lasted over a year and was only resolved last Autumn. He says he may move into coaching.
– Speaking of Olympiacos, their annual summer turnover has begun. They have announced that they will not bring back backup centre Nikola Vujcic, as well as American point guard Scoonie Penn. Vujcic performed well when given minutes in the twilight of his career, 7.4 points, 2.7 rebounds and 1.7 assists in the EuroLeague, and 6.8/2.3/1 in the Greek A1. However, Penn, also in the twilight of his career, struggled mightily for the team. Despite the presence of Milos Teodosic and Theo Papaloukas in front of him, and with NBA draft Patrick Beverley and hot prospect Kostas Sloukas also fighting for point guard minutes, Penn was in the rotation whole year and even got the start in the EuroLeague Final against Barcelona. God knows why; Penn averaged all of 1.6 points and 0.6 assists in 17 minutes per game in the EuroLeague, alongside 3.9 points and 1.7 assists in 21 minutes per game in the Greek league. For PER fans, that’s 14.8 in Greece (due to his 45% 3PT FG), and 2.6 in the EuroLeague (due to his 16% 2PT FG). The Scoonie Penn of Olympiacos 2010 was not the Scoonie Penn of Olympiacos 2007; he wasn’t even a fifth of him.
– Ex-NBA guard Orien Greene was suspended for two years (with one year considered already served) after trying to avoid a doping test by using a team mate’s urine at the end of the 2008/09 season. (Don’t know the ins and outs of how he did this, nor do I want to know.) The team mate, Teddy Gipson, was also suspended for six months. The team they were both playing for, ABC Amsterdam, have not yet been sanctioned but may be soon. Both players had long since left the team; Jannero Pargo’s friend Gipson averaged 16.2 points and 5.3 assists to lead fallen French giant Pau Orthez back to the Pro A, and Greene spent the year in the D-League with the Utah Flash before going to Venezuela for some summer money. He’ll have to make that D-League salary stretch quite a long way now.
– After a bad season, ASVEL Villeurbanne are cutting salary. To celebrate their first EuroLeague campaign for five years, the team spent Tony Parker’s money bringing in reinforcements with pedigree – Curtis Borchardt, Rawle Marshall, Mindaugas Lukauskis. Unfortunately, they never made it out of the group stage, and they didn’t even break .500 in the Pro A either, finishing in ninth place with a 14-16 record. Therefore, Borchardt and Marshall have been released, Victor Samnick has moved to Nancy, and Ali Traore might soon leave the team as well. ASVEL have already brought in replacements; Clemson guard Cliff Hammonds comes over from Peristeri in Greece, and draft prospect Edwin Jackson has returned from two years on loan, fresh with a new cut fastball that breaks late away from the right hander. But there is no replacement size yet.
– Good news, Oklahoma City Thunder fans! Former Sonics draft pick Paccelis “Patch” Morlende is back in basketball after a year and a half out due to injury. Patch resumed training in the new year, attending practice with Dijon, the team with whom he began his career. And although Dijon did not sign him at any point – probably because they were too busy getting relegated – Hyeres-Toulon have just done so, giving Patch his first playing gig since an unsuccessful run in Russia in December 2008. With Kevin Ollie’s impending retirement, this news could not come at a better time.