In that respect, it rivals summer league and draft night; all three present chances to learn more about players about whom you previously did not know about, and you get to try to understand what the NBA sees in them. If a player makes it as far as training camp, after all, then they must be doing something right, because all these players have signed valid NBA contracts. They’re no longer just here for show; they’re under contract, and even being paid a small stipend. In some cases, the player’s presence is for no reason other than convenience and/or practice purposes, and some are there purely as fodder. Yet even then, it’s intriguing. A contract is a contract. And as Jason Richards has proved in the past, even unguaranteed contracts can be lucrative.
There follows both predictions and analysis, if you will, of the upcoming training camp battles in October 2010. This post is so named because I like to imagine that this NSFW speech by Alec Baldwin in Glengarry Glen Ross actually takes place at every team’s media day. If it doesn’t, don’t tell me otherwise.
The Hawks have already taken the purpose out of any training camp signings. They have already emphatically stated that the 14 man roster they already have is the 14 man roster that they will begin the season with; their three signings (Evan Brock, Ricardo Marsh and Richard Delk) serve only to prove that. Additionally, of those 14 contracts, only one (that of Etan Thomas) is unguaranteed. And the only way Thomas doesn’t make it is if he’s in some way unhealthy. Considering Thomas has played only 396 games in 10 seasons, that threat definitely exists; however, even if Thomas doesn’t make the team, none of those other three will either.
Brock is a 6’8 athletic forward who graduated from Alabama in 2006. (He is nothing like his namesake and current Tide guard Anthony Brock, nor does he appear to be related to him.) In his senior season, Evan averaged 3.8 points, 2.8 rebounds and 1.0 assists in 19.3 minutes per game, shooting 44% and not hitting a three in four seasons. His professional career has been less than substantial, too, beginning in 2007 with a stint in the WBA and then moving to Venezuela in early 2008, where he did stuff like this:
Averages of 16.1ppg, 6.9rpg, 2.2apg, 2.2spg and 1.0bpg during that short season in a mediocre league nevertheless represented the first significant production of Brock’s career, amateur or otherwise. He went back there again this year and averaged 16.3 points and 6.5 rebounds; however, that also represents the sum total of his CV. Brock is 26, and certainly athletic, but that’s about it.
Richard Delk, the nephew of former Hawks guard Tony Delk, graduated from Troy University this summer after spending his first two years at Mississippi State. He rarely featured in Mississippi State’s offence, but was used much more on that end at Troy; however, his offensive game mainly consisted of the three pointer. (Delk played mainly off-guard at Troy to accommodate Michael Vogler, who is basically the perfect point guard. I really like Michael Vogler, and I want you to know this.) Whilst athletic, Delk is not big and not a slasher, and while threes account for about half of his offence, he’s not that good at them (never shooting better than 35% from three in any season at either school). Worse still are his free throws, which have yet to be better than 59% in any season. Delk is a decent defender and willing to rebound, but he hasn’t the physical size for the NBA.
Marsh is an Old Dominion graduate who has toured Europe since 2003. His life story in his own unparagraphed words can be found here; long story short, he’s played mainly in Turkey. Marsh started last year with BC Donetsk before they folded, averaging 10.7 points and 3.4 rebounds in 19 minutes per game in the Ukranian Superleague, before moving to Cedevita Zagreb in Croatia and averaging a further 13.5/4.7 in 20.6mpg. As those numbers suggest, Marsh is a scorer, and as his 6’8 240lbs measurements suggests, he’s a big old boy. That’s pretty much what Marsh does; he’s unathletic, yet he uses his size and skill to make shots inside the paint at a prolific rate. However, he’s not much of a rebounder, and even at lesser standard leagues, he can’t defend. So while he’s a good player, who will go back to Europe and continue to be a good player for a few more seasons yet, he’s not an NBA player.
Prediction: Just Thomas, and no one can really claim otherwise. Even if Thomas gets cut, the other three aren’t sticking. Atlanta brought in a load of capable players last year when there were genuine battles for spots, but this year, there are no such battles.
EDIT: Etan’s contract is actually guaranteed. This changes nothing, however.
Boston were all set to bring in the full compliment of 20 players (which is the maximum offseason roster size), but at the last minute, they waived Oliver Lafayette. Fats had no chance of making the roster, since there were already three better point guards in front of him, and four if you project Avery Bradley at that position (which you probably should in the long run, in a Derek Fisher type of way). The team did keep Tony Gaffney, though, and after already adding Delonte West (fully unguaranteed) and Von Wafer ($150,000 guaranteed), they went on to also sign Jamar Smith, Chris Johnson and Stephane Lasme to boost the camp roster to 19.
For all of the things that count against Delonte – not least of which is the fact that he’ll be suspended for the first 10 games of the season – he’s an NBA rotation calibre player. For obvious reasons, Delonte had a down year last season, yet even then, his PER of 13.8 was right in line with his career numbers of 13.9. Boston is one of the few places where Delonte’s talents are enough for tolerating his dramas to be just about worthwhile; the fact that he’s suspended, gets injured a third of the way through every season, and hasn’t fulfilled the potential he showed in his first two seasons, does not change the fact that he’s a decent player on both ends of the court. He is therefore a worthwhile reclamation project for the Celtics, the place where he also spent his best years. West didn’t do dumb stuff when Paul Pierce was around.
Wafer showed in his fourth NBA season with Houston that he could produce in the NBA in a very select role. Give him shots around screens from off the bench, don’t expect much else from him, and you’ll have yourself a useful contributor. Wafer has the talent to produce in the NBA, and would serve Boston as an entry-level Ray Allen for the times Ray Allen is on the bench. Marquis Daniels certainly can’t do that. For this reason, he’s the only one of the unguaranteed contracts to have any guaranteed compensation.
The infamous Smith played for the Timberwolves in summer league, at which time I had written this about him:
Smith – the former Illinois guard who was suspended for a year and a half after driving into a tree while drunk and fleeing the scene, leaving his teammate for dead, and who was then kicked out of the program after being caught underage drinking again and violating his probation – got a second chance at Division II Southern Indiana. He averaged 21.6ppg, 4.1rpg and 4.6apg there last year – all while playing with an electronic ankle bracelet – and earned an invite to the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament last month. However, he averaged only 5.6 points in 3 games there. Nothing about his resumé suggests the NBA is in his short or long term futures.
In said tournament, Smith put up 9 points, 3 assists and 5 turnovers in 38 minutes. There’s still nothing on the resumé that suggests an NBA future. But by being here, Smith can now be assigned to Boston’s D-League affiliate, the Maine Red Claws, upon his inevitable arrival there. There’s a method to it all.
Johnson is a former LSU big man who graduated in 2009, averaging 7.7ppg, 7.2rpg and 2.7bpg in his senior season. His first professional career was a disjointed affair, featuring only short stays in both Poland and Turkey, and he did not play in summer league this year. Johnson’s shot blocking skills are self-evident, and he’s an athletic 6’11 interior player, which is always intriguing. However, he’s thin, not good at physical play, and not a good offensive player, turning it over too much and being unable to finish at high percentages around the basket. Unless it’s a dunk, of course.
Gaffney and Lasme are similar players who, fittingly, both came from Massachusetts. Lasme has played for both the Warriors and Heat before now, a former second-round pick of Golden State’s, who averaged 5.1 blocks per game in his senior season and who has continued his professional career in much the same style. Lasme piles up the blocks, rebounds rather well, and gets some points through that athleticism as well. He was due to sign with Spartak St. Petersburg earlier this month, but the signing fell through due to some technical issues with his visa, so he’s here instead; the inclusions of all three of him, Gaffney and Johnson should tell you that Boston is looking for a shot-blocker. Not sure why, though.
(EDIT: It transpires that Lafayette was waived to accommodate former Hawks guard, Mario West. West has had a lot of tryouts with teams this summer, including the Celtics and the Spurs, because teams love his athleticism and his defensive hustle. But in 3 years, Mario also showed that he can barely make a shot. In fact, in three years, 156 games and 681 minutes with Atlanta, West made precisely 47 shots. He totalled 132 points, 131 rebounds and 122 fouls. He’s in there for defensive purposes, often in one possession situations, and he isn’t bad at that. But can any team afford to carry a player on their roster with such limited usage? Atlanta thought they could, but Boston surely can’t.)
Prediction: The six players are battling for two spots, at most, since the other 13 players on the Celtics roster (including both Semih Erden and The Skillz Train) have guaranteed contracts. Wafer was signed before West became available, yet the signing of Delonte should make Vaekeaton available; the team does not need both, and Delonte is both better and more versatile. Gaffney and Delonte would be my picks, although the possibility of keeping both West and Wafer exists if Harangody proves capable of playing the small forward spot (at least offensively).
After the slightly crazy Erick Dampier trade, and the hideously-unlikely-yet-actually-sensible Kwame Brown signing, Charlotte have found themselves with 14 guaranteed contracts and almost no financial wiggle room, both this season and in the future. Unfortunately, a lot of that committed money is dead money. The quadrant of Matt Carroll, Eduardo Najera, DeSagana Diop and Nazr Mohammed are on the books for exactly $45.11 million, and of the four, only Mohammed will figure into the healthy rotation. Despite this bad roster assembly, however, there remains a spot that can be won, on a team that certainly has needs to fill. And with Larry Brown being the kind of coach that is always willing to give players second chances – along with Charlotte being the kind of team that needs some under-the-radar pickups – the Bobcats have brought in problem children Javaris Crittenton and Darius Miles to fight for that spot, along with undrafted rookie point guard Sherron Collins.
About Collins in summer league, I wrote this:
As an undrafted pickup, I commend the move. Player’s abilities are all relative to expectations, and by going undrafted, Collins’s expectations crashed. Now that nothing is expected of him by any NBA team, I am more confident in his abilities to play in it.
This is still true, and Collins has had the good fortune/judgement to wind up on a team that needs a point guard. The only current options at the position are D.J. Augustin and Shaun Livingston, and neither is a sure thing. Augustin is not a natural at the position (although it will help to have a ball dominant playmaker in Stephen Jackson alongside him), and Shaun Livingston is yet to play more than 61 games in any season, despite his many attempts.
The same could be said of Crittenton’s prospects, but his chances of winning the third point guard spot could be worse. For one, he’s not really a point guard; there’s more to being one than just being ball dominant and a decent passer. (It doesn’t help that he’s also not a two guard, since he can neither play off the ball nor shoot it.) Crittenton is also coming off of surgery on bone spurs in his foot, as well as that rather embarrassing thing with guns involving then-teammate, Gilbert Arenas – as a result, he didn’t play a single minute last year. And the 1,853 minutes he managed in his first two seasons were far from productive. In three years, Crittenton’s NBA career could be considered nothing more than an unmitigated disaster; traded twice, making no improvements, getting caught up in embarrassing off-court drama, and having major surgery. However, there’s still something to be said for ball handling and passing 6’7 guards, and at age 22, his upside has not fully burnt out yet.
To win a roster spot, Darius Miles will have to go through Derrick Brown. Brown struggled to get minutes in his rookie season behind Larry Brown’s love for the solid but unspectacular Stephen Graham, and while Graham has since moved on to New Jersey, Dominic McGuire has (rather unnecessarily, I feel) been brought in on a guaranteed deal to replace him. Both of those players are behind Gerald Wallace (who plays 80% of the minutes in 80% of the games), and Boris Diaw and Tyrus Thomas make for a strong power forward duo. There’s little scope for Miles to get minutes, therefore, unless he can sufficiently outplay Brown that the team opts to waive him, in spite of his $200,000 guaranteed compensation.
(EDIT: Charlotte have since added Matt Rogers, a 6’11 centre out of Division II Southwestern Baptist, which sounds more like a profession than a university. Rogers is recovering from a torn ACL that he suffered in January, which won’t help his already incredibly limited chances; nevertheless, the Bobcats like what they see. Despite going to such a small school, he didn’t have to; Rogers also had offers from Purdue, Georgia and Iowa State, but turned them down in favour of going to a Christian school. In 2008-09, Rogers averaged 18.3 points, 8.7 rebounds and 4.1 blocks per game, shooting 51% from the field, 40% from three and 76% from the line. He made the MIAA All-Defensive Team in all four seasons, was the DPOY twice, and was the overall MIAA Player Of The Year once. No film seems to exist, but here’s a really big picture of the man.)
Prediction: Just Brown. While the need for an extra guard exists, the money does not. Charlotte has wiggle room under the tax, yet it’s not a team that spent on luxuries under Bob Johnson, and it remains to seen if Michael Jordan will change that. And if Charlotte acquires Devin Harris for Diaw as a part of the Carmelo Anthony deal, as rumours suggest, then the need will no longer exist either.
|In hindsight, this was really obvious to predict. So why did none of us predict it? Whoops.
Chicago went the cap space route this summer, yet wound up with $2.3 million that they couldn’t use. They sat on it, trying to use it via trade, yet when they couldn’t get the deal done for Moody Fernandez – yet – they had to press on with their camp signings regardless. Those signings were former Rockets guard John Lucas, former Celtics forward Brian Scalabrine, former Thunder guard Kyle Weaver, former Timberwolves draft pick Chris Richard, and former Illinois forward Roger Powell.
Powell played with the Bulls in training camp 2008, and has spent the time in between in Israel, Spain and France. He started last season with CB Murcia, and averaged 8.3 points and 3.4 rebounds before leaving in late January due to the inevitability of the team’s relegation. He signed in France to finish up the season with Dijon, and put up 28 points and 8 rebounds in 38 minutes of 2 games before breaking his cheekbone and missing the remainder of the season. Powell is the same player now that he was when he left Illinois; athletic, defensively versatile and capable of the little things, but without a great offensive game (it’s better, but not great), and undersized for a combo forward at about 6’6. He’s here because he’s the home town boy, but the depth chart is against him. The Bulls have way too much money invested in way too many small forward options to be able to find a place for Powell.
Lucas hasn’t played in the NBA since 2007, but has made the Bulls camp roster after a strong summer league performance. He averaged 18.3ppg in 3 games, shooting 71% from the three point range, and very much living up to his billing as a small shooting specialist who doesn’t provide a lot other than that. One thing that counts hugely in is favour is the fact that the Bulls, for all the changes they’ve made this offseason, figure to be a worse three point shooting team than they were last season, no mean feat when you’re talking about the team that ranked 28th in three point percentage and 29th in total makes. If he makes the team, Lucas instantly becomes the team’s second best shooter behind Kyle Korver; the 25% he shot from three point range in his two seasons with the Rockets are the anomalies, not the norm.
Scalabrine is also here for much the same reason – he will default as the Bulls’ best big man jump shooting option. This would be fine were it not for the fact that Scal is only a career 39% shooter from the field and 35% from three point range, numbers he put up while shooting almost exclusively open shots. In his Nets days, Scalabrine was barely productive, topping out at a PER of 11.0 in his final season; in five years for the Celtics, he was even worse than that. Last year – playing at power forward, remember – Scalabrine shot 34%, grabbed 3.7 rebounds per 36 minutes, and blocked 4 shots all year, putting up a PER of 3.6. His career PER of 7.2 is lower than even Jarron Collins’s (9.5), and he has 1,542 career points on 1,446 career shots. Scalabrine makes extra passes and rotates into the right places defensively, but he can’t defend any individual player in this league, can’t rebound, and can’t score. There’s no point doing all the little things if you can’t do any of the big things. And yet regardless of that, here he is again, following the coach who loves him more than most, trying to make a roster through a combination of charm and grit. He probably will, too. But tell me again why Walter Herrmann isn’t here instead.
Chris Richard is similarly unproductive. He is an average-to-decent rebounder, yet offensively, he contributes incredibly little. He has no jump shot, no free throw stroke, can’t catch, can’t move without the ball, dribble, post-up, or make anything consistently around the basket. This would be fine in an NBA centre if Chris Richard were really an NBA centre. But that’s debatable as well. Undersized at 6’9, and not quick, Richard plays defence via the foul. He has a limited use, coming into the game and pushing guys around a bit, which is a role that can be occasionally useful to have even if it doesn’t sound like it. However, the Bulls already have Kirk Thomas. No team ever needs Chris Richard, but the team already with Kirk Thomas definitely doesn’t need Chris Richard, who is like the 38-year-old Kirk Thomas without the jump shot. (And if you don’t know why Kurt Thomas is being called Kirk Thomas this season, then don’t worry about it.) The Bulls have Omer Asik as the project third string centre, so whatever upside the 25 year old oft-injured Richard may be considered to have is upside he’ll have to realise elsewhere. Specifically, the Iowa Energy.
Weaver’s chances of making the team would be very good were it not for the presence of Keith Bogans. Whatever role he could have filled as the versatile and productive backup shooting guard has been negated by the Bogans signing; Keith Bogans has always had an uncanny knack of squelching out 1,000 minutes a season, and he will not stop now. This could put the death knell on Weaver’s chances, since Kyle Korver can (and should, but won’t) play some two guard as well, and the occasional two point guard lineup of Derrick Rose and C.J. Watson might also figure. Then again, even with the Notorious B.O.G.[a.n.s.] on the team, the Bulls need a quality two guard, and Weaver is that. He was given little opportunity in his first two NBA seasons due to a depth chart that was stacked against him and some struggles with injuries, yet he’s a versatile player who is adequate in all facets of the game, a solid playmaker and defender with a sufficient jump shot. If his jump shot was slightly better than adequate, he would be a lock to stick, considering the Bulls aforementioned and well-established jump shooting problems.
Prediction: Scalabrine and Lucas will stick. Weaver might do so, too, even though there doesn’t exist a single minute for him on the depth chart. (Some might become available if James Johnson is assigned to the D-League next year. This probably should happen, but also probably won’t.)
Considering the quite formidable roster desolation that befell Cleveland this summer, it should perhaps be no surprise that they’ve kept their options open, and signed a boatload of players for training camp. In addition to the incumbent Danny Green (whose contract is fully unguaranteed) and the returning Jawad Williams (likewise), the team has brought in Samardo Samuels, Manny Harris, Greg Stiemsma, Loren Woods, Cedric Jackson and Tasmin Mitchell. Of those few, only Samuels ($200,000 of $500,000) has any guaranteed money. The team is also said to have agreed to a deal with Didier Ilunga-Mbenga, although any potential signing there has not yet happened.
Cleveland State graduate Jackson spent some time with the Cavaliers last season on a couple of 10 day contracts. He also played briefly with the Spurs, before finishing out the season with the Wizards. What he did to earn time with three different teams is not immediately obvious; it’s not meant disrespectfully, but Jackson is not an NBA calibre player offensively. He was averaging only 10ppg at Cleveland State, and was shooting less than 28% from three point range in the D-League before his call-up. Jackson is a good defender who is willing to rebound, with good size for a point guard and skills in transition, but he’s not a half court point guard. And Cleveland could kind of use one right now, since no other players on the team at any position have much half-court ability. Not since that guy left.
Samuels should make the team with the level of guaranteed money on his contract, and could be a good centre prospect for a few years. He simply has to start caring about rebounding more, and he will never be athletic or 7 foot tall, but he has great hands, good touch, footwork, shot blocking instincts and strong interior defence. Contrastly, Stiemsma is pretty offensively devoid (save for an excellent free throw stroke), and is a fairly average rebounder, but he’s also a big old boy with fantastic shot blocking rates. Given that their centre rotation currently reads Anderson Varejao and Ryan Hollins (unless J.J. Hickson plays significant time there), the Cavaliers could probably use both. But since roster spots mandate that only one can realistically win a spot, Samuels has the upper hand.
Loren Woods’s return to the NBA for the first time in two years is an unexpected but not unwelcome surprise. Partly because it’s both good and interesting to see that this 32 year old six year veteran is still just about on the NBA radar, but also because it gives us a chance to peel off his slightly patronising yet ultimately well intentioned highlight reel once again.
(And yes, that is Hedo Turkoglu playing for the Magic in garbage time during a 24 point loss to the 10-22 magic. Lots of things have changed since then.)
Since being waived by the Rockets in 2008, Woods has played in Lithuania, Spain and Iran (which must be a difficult gig for any American). With Iranian team Mahram this summer, Woods won the Asian Club Championships, averaging 12.3 rebounds and an undisclosed number of points per game. (Jordanian great Jack Rebel Slims led the tournament with 24.6ppg.) He’s the same player he always was; a nimble if slender 7’1 rebounder and shot-blocker who is very inconsistent and not very good at scoring, but who likes to try to do so anyway. Pretty much the exact same description could be used to describe Mbenga, should he sign there as well, but Mbenga is better offensively, younger, and slightly bigger. Of the two, he has more chance. But still, it’s good to see Loren back here.
In his rookie year, Green played only 115 minutes. A large part of the reason why he sat was the presence of Jawad Williams, who took most of whatever available wing minutes there were behind Anthony Parker, Jamario Moon and the guy who left. Hot Wad played 742 minutes on the season, although he did not play them well, shooting below 40% from the field and rarely passing or rebounding. Yet the Cavs benched Green in favour of Williams at almost every possible opportunity, and have brought Williams back with a view to doing it again. Minutes, again, may be tough for Green to find. Even though that guy with the TV show has left, Joey Graham has been brought in to play small forward, and Christian Eyenga has been brought over to begin his transformation into the next Kirk Snyder. Cleveland’s small forward and shooting guard rotations are not good, but there are nonetheless many options there. For Green to get any minutes – and for him to even make the roster – he’ll need to show he belongs in a mix that already involves Parker, Moon, Graham, Eyenga, Williams and Boobs Gibson. This is even worse news for Manny Harris, who will have the same problem; he’d be an apt fit for the roster, were Eyenga not already in his place. And Tasmin Mitchell (described here, along with Harris) is going to have problems showing that he’s more fitting of the backup forward role that Moon, Graham and even Williams already fill.
Prediction: Samuels and Williams.
Dallas’s roster was set; 14 players all under contract and all guaranteed, with at least three options at every position. But then Tim Thomas decided not to play next season, and a need for a new stretch four was opened up. Dallas looked at Bobby Simmons, but in the end went vanilla with Brian Cardinal and Steve Novak. They also brought in former NBA players Dee Brown and Adam Haluska, although neither can realistically make the team.
Time was when Brian Cardinal was a high quality NBA role player. But Cardinal is now 33 years old, and it’s an old 33. The health of his knees has been in decline for years, and it’s taken his productivity with it. Last year for Minnesota, Cardinal played only 267 minutes, totalling 48 points, 29 rebounds, 24 assists and 56 fouls. He can still hit open threes, and still knows how and when to pass, but he can’t defend, rebound or shoot 48% any more. Sadly, just as that ambitious contract given to him by Jerry West finally expires, Brian Cardinal looks done.
If the Mavericks just want someone to hit open threes, they’d be better off with Steve Novak. Novak is the most one dimensional player in the NBA, doing literally nothing else but taking three point jump shots (usually only just having enough to time to take his tracksuit off as Mike Dunleavy Sr throws him into one possession situations two hours after his pre-game warm-up ends). It’s therefore a blessing and a happy coincidence that he’s very good at it. Novak didn’t shoot the three well last year, shooting only 31% from there and helped in no small part by the incredibly unfair way in which he was used (unfair, and yet, as a specialist, something he’ll have to live with until he ups his total rebounding percentage from 5.3%). His jump shot should not be doubted, though.
Brown was in Italy last year, where this happened. In addition that, Brown averaged 14.8 points and 5.2 assists per game, with the assists per game total leading the league. However, Brown also shot more three pointers than two’s, and hit them at only 32%. Therein lies Dee’s problem, the thing that has kept him on the cusp of the NBA these last four years without ever sticking in it; he’s no half court point guard, nor can he create for himself in the halfcourt, and nor can he hit most open jumpers. Dee’s very, very good at the things he does well, namely the open court game. But until an extra 10-15% appears on that three point percentage, he’ll stay on the fringe.
Haluska was drafted by the Hornets in the second round in 2007, and signed a two year deal with the team, yet only made it as far as the trade deadline in his first season, traded to Houston as salary filler without ever playing an NBA game. In the two and a half years hence, Haluska has played little; a short stint in the D-League to finish off the 2007/08 season, then 15 games in Israel in 2008/09, and then not playing at all last season. He’s an average sized shooting guard out of Iowa with a decent (but not elite) jump shot, who can also slash and finish around the basket in an unathletic, disjointed fashion. However, a combination of his lack of playing time in the three and half years since he left Iowa, and the fact that he’s about to turn 27, haven’t done much for Haluska’s already-limited NBA prospects. If the Mavericks really need to replace the recently departed Matt Carroll, then Haluska could perhaps do that, but they really don’t.
Prediction: Novak. Or, if Tim Thomas changes his mind, none of them.
Denver has only 12 players under contract at the moment (where “at the moment” is used to mean “before any Carmelo Anthony trade”). They therefore need to bring in at least one more player; teams can have twelve man rosters for two weeks at a time, but the mandated minimum roster size is 13. With this in mind, they have brought in five for training camp, although the fact that the team is $12 million over the luxury tax threshold might mean only one makes it. Or, if someone good were to fall into their hands later, then none might make it. The signed players; Shane Edwards, Gary Forbes, Courtney Sims, Eric Boateng and Melvin Ely.
Edwards played for the Nuggets in summer league, and played well, averaging 10.8 points, 4.2 rebounds and 2.0 steals in 5 games. Before summer league began, I wrote this about him:
Shane Edwards was a decent 6’7 forward at Arkansas-Little Rock, who went on to become a decent D-League player. What makes a decent D-League player? Something like 12.7 points, 5.3 rebounds, 3.12 fouls and 0.8 blocks in 25 minutes per game, shooting 63% from the field and 72% from the foul line. Edwards can’t really play away from the basket and is small for the interior, but he is very athletic and is improving as a post-up player.
Summer league is a good place for decent D-League players, since it’s much the same calibre, and Edwards performed decently as a result. But the concern about his measurements and style of play are still true. Edwards didn’t take or make a three in summer league, and went 0-1 from there in the D-League last year. He’s athletic enough to be a small forward, and will run the court, but he doesn’t have a small forward’s ball skills. This makes him the classic tweener – too small for power forward, but without the small forward’s skill set. If you want a tough but possible challenge, name 150 more of these.
Believe it or not, Melvin Ely is now 32. He did not play in the NBA last year, signing with the Kings for camp but failing to make the team, and then never played anywhere else either. Ely’s reputation as an interior scorer persists, even though his numbers tell a less flattering story; for his career, Ely is shooting .457%, with a total rebounding percentage of only 11.7% and average D. He never advanced beyond being an OK NBA player, and with his age being what it is, he’s not about to change that. It’s be quite the feat to even get back to that.
Boateng went to summer league with the Knicks, for which I wrote this:
Boateng is an English centre who played one year at Duke, before transferring to Arizona State, where he just completed his senior season. He barely played at all in his first four seasons, but finally got a chance to play last year, and responded with averages of 8.8ppg and 7.2rpg on 66% shooting. However, even though he turns 25 in November, Boateng is still an incredibly raw player. He turned it over 2.1 times per game in only 27 minutes, despite not taking any dribbles at any point, and shot only 50% from the foul line. He’s also not much of a shot-blocker; essentially, he’s a 6’10 slightly above average rebounder.
Despite his nationality, it’s not possible even for me to conclude from that skillset that Boateng could be an NBA calibre player. His summer league averages of 3.6 points, 3.2 rebounds and 4.4 fouls per game somewhat confirm that. But if you’re American and you’re easily pleased by English people (which happens a lot), you might dig his accent.
Sims has been covered on this site many times before, the most recent of which was here. In summer league for the Lakers, Sims averaged 8.6 points and 5.8 rebounds in 25 minutes per game, helping to bolster his stock that has wavered for a couple of years. Forbes was also covered in the summer league posts; he played with Houston, and averaged 3.8 points and 3.0 rebounds per game. In basically the verse of the norm, Forbes shot 3-4 from three point range but only 2-15 from two. Shooting isn’t normally his thing.
Prediction: Ely, although I’d rather it was Boateng for obvious reasons. Unless he’s traded, Renaldo Balkman lays claim to any spot Edwards might occupy, and the team that just gave a full MLE to Al Harrington has aspirations of winning now, even if they remain unfulfilled. I’m not saying that Ely offers the best chance of doing that, but I do think it’ll be believed that he will be, which is why I am predicting he makes it. If Carmelo is traded before camp breaks, that changes things, but for now, we must assume that that won’t happen. (It’s perhaps surprising that they didn’t look for an extra guard, since they’re not deep in the backcourt. The closest thing to one here is Forbes, and he’s not one. Coby Karl has signed in Spain, though, so he will not be returning.)
|Everyone’s a winner, baby. That’s the truth.
With 15 guaranteed contracts already in place, there’s not a lot for Detroit to do here. After last season’s training camp blunder, Detroit have played it conservative, bringing in only two additional players; Ike Diogu and Vernon Hamilton.
Hamilton is a defensive minded point guard, formerly of Clemson. It helps to be defensive minded if you’re playing at Clemson, and Hamilton was named to the ACC All-Defensive Team in 2006, averaging 12 and 3 that season. However, despite the defence, Hamilton is a bad shooter, very bad free throw shooter, and undersized for the NBA, who is also not a particularly good half court point guard. Nonetheless, he’s doing OK in Europe, averaging 19.0 points and 2.9 assists in the Swiss league last season. He can also now claim to have signed in the NBA twice; he once signed with the Cavaliers for training camp, but did not make the team. Not many can make that claim.
As stated here, Ike Diogu is a much maligned player:
– Diogu missed last season after microfracture surgery on his knee. Because of that, and because of his limited minutes on his rookie contract, Diogu has become overlooked by media and executives alike. But even if he’s not the smartest sausage in the world, Diogu can play. His career PER is 16.1; his career TS% is .577%. Injuries and lack of opportunity have defined his career, yet Diogu is a good and efficient interior scorer (17.7pp36m career) who has become much overlooked. Unless it’s due to the knee injury, there’s no reason why Ike Diogu should not be in the NBA next season.
He’s running the risk of not making it, because Detroit aren’t a team with much “roster flexibility” (the thing cited by GM’s whenever they waiving players with unguaranteed contracts). But Ike’s level of offensive production cannot be questioned. It’s the 2,311 total minutes in 5 seasons that’s the problem.
Prediction: Health permitting, Diogu has the talent to make this team. He has the talent to make any team. But what he’s done is join a team with 15 guaranteed contracts. As much as Chris Wilcox has disappointed in Detroit, he’s being paid $3 million next year. Is Diogu so valuable that it’s worth eating than $3 million and using the roster spot on Diogu instead? No. And so barring a trade, Diogu will likely not make it. Hamilton definitely won’t.
The Warriors started early, nabbing Jeremy LinJeremy Lin after summer league ended to a contract that has $350,000 in guaranteed money. Since this represents almost 75% of his entire rookie year salary, you can safely assumed he’s sticking around for the duration. They also signed ex-La Salle big man Vernon Goodridge soon after that – it was only recently announced, yet it happened ages ago – and signed ex-UConn power forward Jeff Adrien early this month. They’ve now rounded things up by also signing Cheyne Gadson, Aaron Miles and James Mays – those six players are fighting at most only two spots.
Goodridge played for both the Nets and Sixers in summer league this year. Concerning his inclusion on the Nets roster, I wrote this:
Once intriguing, Vernon Goodridge absolutely and completely fell off the map. He enrolled at Mississippi State aged 21, and barely played for two seasons. He then sat out a year while transferring to La Salle, and then averaged 6.7ppg, 5.9rpg and 1.6bpg in 2008-09 for the Explorers at the ripe old age of 25. His professional career since then has involved one stop (in a Dominican Republic minor league with the catchy name of the ABASAPEMA) and one dismissal from the team (for an undisclosed breach of contract). That begins and ends the chronicles of Vernon Goodridge so far.
Ultimately, Goodridge didn’t play a single minute for the Nets, and while he did play in all 5 games for the Sixers, he totalled more fouls than both points and rebounds. Somewhere in there, though, came the training camp offer from the Warriors. Perhaps it has more to do with the potential that he had in 2005 more than the fulfilment of that promise since then. Either way, Goodridge is going to have to stop fouling in a hurry for his rebounding abilities to be any use.
Adrien also played in summer league, averaging 5.2 points and 7.8 rebounds for the Memphis Grizzlies, as well as 8.5 points and 7.3 rebounds for the Orlando Magic. Last year he played in Spain’s LEB Gold (second division), averaging 12.3ppg and 7.7rpg for Breogan Lugo. After somewhat predictably going undrafted, Adrien’s only way back to the NBA was to try and do what Udonis Haslem did, putting up big rebounding numbers and playing good defensive even in spite of his lack of size for the NBA. He’s off to a pretty good start. Adrien will always be a 6’7 power forward; he hasn’t tried (and shouldn’t try) to become a small forward, although adding a mid range jump shot and a free throw stroke would greatly help his chances. If he does not make the team, Adrien has already committed to going to the D-League next season.
Mays was another summer leaguer, and his stints in China and Puerto Rico (two regular ports of call for this website) have made him an oft-chronicled figure around here. He averaged 3.5 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2.5 fouls in 4 summer league games with Toronto this year.
Miles is returning to the team with whom he played the only 118 minutes of his NBA career, way back in November and December 2005. Since that time, he has been in Europe doing what he does best; passing, playmaking, being small, and not making jump shots. He is good in this role, and is a successful player regardless of whether or not he ever makes it back to the NBA, but for as long as he continues to shoot 19% from the European three point line (like he did last year with Aris in the EuroLeague), then he will struggle to ever make it back. Meanwhile, Cheyne Gadson is a 30 year old former Oklahoma State combo guard who is a well travelled veteran of Europe, the minor leagues and Latin America, who even played 7 games in England with the Brighton Bears back in 2005. He went to training camp with the Mavericks in 2008, but last year averaged less than 10 points and 4 assists in the D-League. Gadson is athletic and a great ball handler, but also wild and ball dominant, with not much of a jump shot and no defined position.
Prediction: Lin, obviously. But none of the rest. After the signing of Lou Amundson, there’s no longer any point. The Warriors will probably battle injuries again; with Ekpe Udoh going down before summer league started, they already are. Yet with Amundson, Udoh, Andris Biedrins, David Lee, and a fit-again Brandan Wright, the Warriors have a good many good quality big man options. They even have Dan Gadzuric around for emergencies, and could crank out Vladmanovic at power forward in an emergency situation. The Warriors needed all these power forwards last year, back when Devean George was getting centre minutes; they’ve got them now, and thus don’t now need these new guys.
At the time of writing, Houston have 14 guaranteed contracts. 13 of the 14 are there on purpose; the only one that isn’t is Jared Jeffries, who will be traded at some point to ensure Houston gets under the tax. (That’s not a cast-iron fact, but it may as well be.) With one spot up for grabs, Houston have brought in six players; Mike Harris and Alexander Johnson (signed last season to contracts running through 2011), Patrick Sullivan, Jordan Eglseder, Ishmael Smith and Antonio Anderson.
Smith is the only one with any guaranteed money; $50,000’s worth, to be precise. This gives him the inside track on the roster spot. He’s also probably got the inside track on the roster spot due to him being a point guard, and for all their depth, Houston only has two of those right now. Smith doesn’t have NBA calibre size nor any kind of a jump shot, but he makes some things happen on both ends of the court. And given that he’s now free for a couple of weeks with that partial contract guarantee, he might stick around for a bit.
Anderson can pretend to be a point guard, but he isn’t really one. He’s a passer and ball handler, but he’s best at defending the shooting guard. Shooting is also his weakness, leaving Anderson floating between positions. He’s well and truly on the NBA radar, however, playing briefly with the Oklahoma City Thunder last year and appearing on summer league rosters for both the Bobcats and Nuggets this summer, averaging 4.6 points and 2.4 rebounds for Denver but playing only 1 minute for Charlotte.
Eglseder played with the Pistons in summer league, about which I wrote this:
Eglseder is a freshly graduated senior from Northern Iowa who made his legacy by owning Cole Aldrich in NI’s upset win over Kansas in the NCAA tournament. He was a good player before then, averaging 11.9 points and 7.2 rebounds on the season in only 21 minutes, but that was the game that made his legacy. Eglseder really has nothing in his favour other than that game, his 7 foot 280lbs frame, and his turnaround jump shot. But as Aldrich will testify, it’s a hard shot to stop.
In that competition, Eggs didn’t score a point, and committed 5 fouls in 21 minutes. It wasn’t a glowing endorsement of his already tenuous NBA prospects. With Yao Ming a constant injury risk, and Brad Miller already struggling, the Rockets are actively looking for a centre. It’s why they sniffed around Kyrylo Fesenko recently, and it’s why they’re in the chase for Erick Dampier. But Eglseder will not suffice. They’d be better served playing Jordan Hill or even Charlie Hayes out of position before that.
Sullivan also played in summer league, tacking on with the Memphis Grizzlies. He played only 14 minutes, stuck behind more established players who are either already on a roster, or who have better chances of making them. Sullivan is a recent graduate of Southeastern Louisiana in the Southland Conference, averaging 15.7ppg, 8.7rpg, 2.1apg, and 3.3bpg in his senior season, the blocks per game ranking eighth in the nation. (Five of the seven ahead of him were draft picks this past summer.) He’s a thin but athletic 6’9, who can’t shoot or handle physical play, but who can score through his athleticism alone and (obviously) block some shots. You could perhaps liken him to JaJuan Johnson, but without the 20 foot of jump shot range and the overall poise. And the draft billing.
Harris and Johnson are players who have long been on the cusp of the NBA without ever quite managing to stick. Johnson in particular is a fine talent, a talented scorer and good rebounder who would have stuck by now were he able to just stop fouling. Working against Johnson is the fact that because they signed through 2011 at the end of the 2009/10 season, they aren’t on one year contracts, meaning they aren’t subject to the veteran’s minimum reimbursement thing better described on the Rockets salaries page. As a result, if Johnson makes the team, Houston pay him $885,120 instead of $854,389 next season. Not that it will matter much, because Patrick Patterson just made him superfluous.
Prediction: None of them. Erick Dampier will sign there, taking the 15th spot, and rendering all of these signings temporarily redundant. However, Eglseder, Smith and Anderson will go to the D-League and be assigned to the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, the Rockets’s self-owned affiliate. And then after Jared Jeffries and Jermaine Taylor are traded to Sacramento in the new year to avoid the luxury tax, Smith and Anderson will return to the team on 10 day contracts. You heard it here first. And if it doesn’t happen, you’ll not hear of it again.