As of today, January 5th, NBA teams are able to start signing players to 10 day contracts. Up until now, players signed mid-season had to be signed to contracts lasting at least until the end of the season; as of Wednesday, however, you need sign them for no longer than 10 days, either as emergency cover or an extended tryout. This system is widely used every year, and sometimes leads to beautiful stories, such as the successes enjoyed by players such as Reggie Williams, C.J. Watson and Anthony Tolliver (all 10 day contract signees at one part), or the record breaking NBA career of JamesOn Curry (whose NBA career, despite technically being two years long, has resulted in 4 total seconds of playing time earned while on a 10 day contract with the Clippers last year).
Players signed to ten day contracts tend to be young prospects, and tend to be signed by teams destined for the lottery, either by accident, destiny or design. That said, the occasional veteran will sign one or two ten day contracts with a team, thereby enjoying something of a comeback. This has been the case for players such as Alvin Williams, Doug Christie and Darius Miles in the past, and is particularly good news for Antonio Daniels.
There follows a subjective yet comprehensive list of possible if highly unlikely ten day contract candidates, crafted from a combination of the current free agents list, as well as current D-League players (who, more often than not, are the recipients). Listed in no order other than alphabetical.
Blake Ahearn – Ahearn started the year in Italy, playing for struggling Serie A team Bancas Teramo. He averaged 9.3 points and 1.3 assists in 24 minutes per game, but shot only 35% from three point range and 28% from two point range whilst being largely signed for his scoring. He was then released and returned to the D-League for a fourth season, rejoining the Erie BayHawks, with whom he averaged 26 and 6 down the stretch of last season. Ahearn has only 25 points and 19 assists through his first three D-League games of this season, but should have his shooting numbers return to the median in short order.
Ahearn was a recipient of two ten day contracts from the Heat back in 2008, eventually sticking around for the remainder of the season and helping them to a 15-67 record. He hasn’t changed a lot since then, not getting any quicker or becoming any more of a purist’s point guard. But he didn’t lose his jump shot either.
Rafer Alston – Alston’s temperamental and inconsistent NBA career seemed to end last year with him being used as a mere pawn in a trade, a stint on the bench of the worst team in the league, a buyout, a return to Miami, a brief resurgence with a shot as a starter on a playoff team, ultimately followed by an indefinite suspension after losing the starting spot and leaving the team. This won’t have been the way he nor anyone would have wanted their NBA career to end; however, as he heads towards middle age and loses his once significant skills, he probably doesn’t have a choice. Alston tried out for a spot in China this offseason, agreeing to sign with Zhejiang Lions whilst simultaneously trying to secure a spot with Qingdao, yet eventually bailed on both teams by choosing to stay at home in NYC instead to tend to personal matters. All things considered, a comeback looks unlikely.
Chucky Atkins – Atkins went to camp with the Suns this offseason, needing to catch a second wind. He didn’t do this, however, and lost out on a roster spot to undrafted rookie Matt Janning. Atkins managed a full NBA season as recently as last year, but he hasn’t managed a productive full NBA season for four years. There has been no official word as to his employment status, but aged 36 and unsigned, his career may be over.
Andre Barrett – Despite being in the relative prime of his career, Barrett has yet to play anywhere this season. He was one of the D-League’s better point guards last season, averaging 19/7 for the Idaho Stampede, yet he remains unsigned. Israeli team Maccabi Haifa are rumoured to be interested in his services, despite already having Americans Derrick Low, Sylvan Landesberg, Frank Robinson, Larry O’Bannon and Drew Houseman at guard.
Barrett has signed contracts with 9 different NBA teams before now, including 6 ten day contracts. Aged 28 and fresh from a good season, it’s still possible that he could get another one.
Patrick Beverley – Despite a two year fully guaranteed contract, given to him during some champagne induced money-frittering by a giddy front office, Beverley was cut from the Heat roster in training camp and has remained unsigned since. Chicago took a good long look at him, but eventually decided to go with John Lucas III instead. Beverley was another player linked with a move to China, specifically the Shanghai Sharks, but he ultimarely did not sign there.
JamesOn Curry and Scottie Reynolds – The two are listed together because they currently form a high scoring if undersized backcourt for the D-league’s Springfield Armor. Curry averages 18.0 points, 3.8 assists and 2.6 turnovers per game on 44% shooting and 47% 3PT; Reynolds averages 16.3 points, 5.0 assists, 2.2 turnovers, 47% FG and 38% 3PT. Curry is one of the best available shooters, although he doesn’t offer much else from the point guard spot; Reynolds offers slightly more conventional point guard skills, but is still best as a scorer and a shooter, without being quite as good of a shooter as JamesOn.
Antonio Daniels – Daniels’s incredibly surprising D-League comeback trail after missing last season due to knee surgery was off to a fine start; however, the use of the past tense is deliberate. AD averaged 17.0 points, 8.2 assists and only 2.2 turnovers in the Texas Legends’ first 9 games, shooting 49% from the field and 36% from three, while attempting 91 free throws to only 70 field goals. With 153 points on those 70 shots, Daniels led (leads) the league in true shooting percentage with a .695 mark (unheard of for a modern-era point guard), as well as ranking second in the league with 3.7:1 assist/turnover ratio. (Strangely, the league leader in assist/turnover ratio is 6’11 Bakersfield jump shooting centre Luke Zeller, with a 4.3:1 mark. Luke also has 75 three point attempts to only 4 free throw attempts. He is a centre in height only.) Daniels was well on his way to earning a return to the NBA as a heady veteran point guard, with Portland reported to be interested, but he injured his hand in the 9th game and has not played since. He makes this list, however, for the fact that he will be back soon, where once again he will become a front line call-up candidate.
Dan Dickau – NBA veteran Dickau was taking an approach similar to Daniels last year, when he returned from a European career to average 14.9 points and 7.1 assists per game for the Fort Wayne Mad Ants. This year, though, the Polish citizen has not signed anywhere. It is unclear whether he intends do; Dickau now has a basketball academy business venture that appears, from the outside at least, to be a successful and professional operation.
Steve Francis – As mentioned previously, Francis started this season in China, signing a big money contract with the Beijing Ducks and seemingly beginning something of a comeback. But it turns out that it wasn’t. In three games with Beijing, Francis totalled (not averaged – totalled) 11 minutes, 2 points and 4 turnovers. And here are those two points.
For comparison’s sake, Beijing’s other import Randolph Morris averages a league leading 30.4 points, plus 11.7 rebounds per game. Even Sun Ming-Ming and his 2.0 points per game average managed to outperform Francis. And Sun has done it without any bird flipping.
In addition to doing absolutely nothing on the court, Francis had other problems. The long term knee injury that has robbed him of his athleticism remains, joined by a concurrent ankle problem that saw him play 17 seconds while wrapped in ice. Furthermore, Francis drew a fine and a “serious warning” from the league for flipping off the refs whilst on the bench, in protest to a foul call he didn’t like. And here is that gesture.
Francis then failed to attend Christmas Day practice, left at half time during a game after being DNP-CD’ed in the first, and eventually was asked to leave the team. Ironically, he turned up to practice to announce his departure.
Sundiata Gaines – Gaines was waived by the Jazz in training camp, then quickly picked up by the Timberwolves when they needed an emergency point guard due to injuries elsewhere. However, he was once again waived today, before his contract became guaranteed. Gaines didn’t play especially well for Minnesota, with 6 assists to 6 turnovers in 65 minutes, and 21 points on 22 shots. However, he was genuinely good for Utah last season, and remains near the top of the point guard pile.
Orien Greene – Greene is having the best offensive season of his career. Playing shooting guard alongside Kevin Kruger, Greene is averaging 21.8 points per game for the D-League’s Utah Flash, alongside 4.8 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 3.4 turnovers per game. Combine all that, with all this, and all of this, and see how you feel.
Jason Hart – Hart earned a ten day call-up last year with the New Orleans Hornets as emergency injury cover, and it’s not unfeasible that he could do so again. He certainly oozes the necessary qualities of age, experience, and passing first. But he is no longer top of the list and might struggle. He has not played since his Hornets stint.
Lester Hudson – Hudson has had a couple of stints with the Wizards this season, but played only 73 total minutes. He shot only 25% from the field and put up a 6.1 PER, and is yet to bring his jump shot to the NBA.
Cedric Jackson – After failing to make the Cavaliers roster out of training camp, Jackson returned to the D-League for another season with the Cavs’ affiliate, Erie BayHawks. He was averaging 12.1 points, 6.6 assists and 2.1 steals through the BayHawks’s first 14 games, before he was traded to the Idaho Stampede. (It probably hurts to get traded to another city when you’re only earning $25,000.) Jackson has played 2 games. He is a good defensive player, yet Jackson’s offence appears not to have progressed much over the summer, and he turns 25 in March. Nevertheless, Jackson played for three NBA teams last year, his first professional season, and is firmly on the radar.
Mike James – James started the season in China with the Zhejiang Cyclones, marking the first time since 2001 that he has played in a league outside of the NBA. (Miami picked him up midseason from the CBA’s Rockford Lightning, back in the day when the CBA was the primary American minor league. The CBA no longer exists.) James played well, averaging 27.9 points, 4.8 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 3.6 steals per game, but he was released anyway as the team started 2-6. They have won both of their games without him.
Marko Jaric – After being bought out by the Grizzlies this time last year, Jaric signed with Real Madrid to see out the season. He started well, but his play tapered off throughout the campaign, and he was not retained. Jaric has not signed anywhere thus far this season, but he is still being paid about $6 million by the Grizzlies, so he’s probably not in a rush.
Dontell Jefferson – Jefferson has been in the NBA before, spending a part season with Larry Brown’s Bobcats a couple of years ago, used largely as a defensive specialist combo guard. He’s been a good quality D-League player for a few years, and has improved significantly as a scorer since leaving Arkansas. However, he blew out his knee partway through last season, missed the remainder of the campaign, and is still far from at his best. Jefferson averages only 10.3 points and 3.4 assists in 8 games with the Idaho Stampede this season; the Stampede traded for him just after the season began, yet have only this week had to release him due to injury, as Jefferson’s struggle to get back to 100% continues. When healthy, he’s a talent.
Anthony Johnson – Johnson was unable to secure a contract from anywhere this offseason, and remains unsigned. He is now 36 and in danger of never getting back into the NBA, yet strangely, last season was the third best season of his career. According to PER, at least.
Oliver Lafayette – Rumours persisted all summer and all autumn that Serbian team Partizan Belgrade were in talks to sign former Baylor point guard Curtis Jerrells, despite the fact that Jerrells was under contract to the San Antonio Spurs the whole time. Once Lafayette had been released by the Boston Celtics, he moved to Partizan instead to be their replacement for Bo McCalebb, yet the Jerrells rumours persisted regardless. And when the Spurs cut Jerrells a month into the season, the inevitable happened; Partizan released Lafayette and snagged CJ. It was the worst kept secret since Sylvester Stallone’s porn debut.
Importantly, Lafayette had struggled with Partizan. He did fairly well in the Adriatic League, averaging 10.2 points, 4.0 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 2.2 steals per game, but in EuroLeague play he shot only 15 for 68 from the field. After being released, Lafayette returned to the D-League, coming back to the team whose GM said he never should have left. He has averaged 14.3 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.1 assists in the 8 games hence. Rather like Jackson, he is better defensively, a good athlete who rebounds surprisingly well for one so small, and who produces in transition. But he’s turnover prone in the half court, and his jump shot, while improved, remains mediocre and inconsistent.
Lafayette played in the NBA with the Celtics last year, totalling 7 points and 4 rebounds in their regular season finale (his only game for the team) and having a great seat during the team’s lengthy playoff run. If he never makes it back to the NBA, he certainly had one of the best minimal NBA careers imaginable. But he may yet make it back.
John Lucas III – Lucas made it back to the NBA after a four year absence when he joined the Bulls in training camp, joining up with the coach who called him “the perfect third point guard.” The Bulls cut Lucas, then brought him back midseason, but all Lucas managed in the 10 minutes that he played was to miss two very important free throws. With two roster spots open, Chicago still need a third point guard, and Tom Thibodeau’s affinity for Lucas might give him the inside track should they look to add one. Then again, this point guard list is quite long.
Aaron Miles – Miles is currently in the D-League, and he’s the best half court point guard anywhere in it. He leads the D-League in assists per game at 9.2 (Terrence Williams and Jonny Flynn both have more, but played only 5 games total on assignment), and turns it over only 2.8 times per game in the process. Miles also pours in a useful 15.8 points, 4.4 rebounds and 2.5 steals per game as well, while shooting 52% from the floor. The fact that he has 0 made three pointers on the season does nothing to prevent him from breaking down defences.
There can surely only be one reason why Miles, a player clearly capable of playing in the EuroLeague, is in the D-League. It’s the same reason he went to training camp with the Warriors. He’s trying to get back into the NBA. Could he do it, despite his small stature and still-absent jump shot? Quite possibly.
Jannero Pargo – Pargo badly injured his knee over the summer, and was passed over in free agency. He later caught on with the Hornets, and may well have made their team were it not for the injury. Since being released again, he has remained unsigned. Pargo has enough of an NBA calibre legacy to be a candidate again when healthy – however, in order to sign him, teams must overlook how genuinely bad he was last season.
Walker Russell – Russell has never played in the NBA, aside from a training camp stint with the Isiah-era Knicks in 2007. A few trips to Europe have not gone very well, including a tryout in Germany to begin this season, and Russell has returned to the D-League with the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, where he ties with Daniels for third in the league in assists at 8.2 per game. This is particularly impressive considering that he has paired up for much of the season with Lafayette, another premier D-League point guard. As is often the case, Russell struggles from the outside, shooting only 3-17 on the season from three, but he contributes 15.8 points of his own whilst being emphatically a pass first player. But as with others before him, Russell’s size (6’0) and lack of outside shot have thus far negated the passing from an NBA perspective. Also counting against Russell is his age; something of a late bloomer, he turned 28 in October.
Jon Scheyer – Since leaving Duke, very little has happened for Scheyer. He was not drafted, he got injured in summer league, he barely played, and he has not signed elsewhere since. Israeli offers have always been there – as a Jew, citizenship could easily be obtained – and the D-League remains an option. As it is, however, he’s taken none. The freak eye injury he suffered in summer league was rather serious, and required surgery, but he is back working out and is hopefully now beyond it.
Mustafa Shakur – Shakur returned to the D-League this year, but his averages of 15.8 points, 4.6 points and 4.9 assists are down on last year’s. They also seem unbefitting of a man of such strong talent, talent which saw him briefly appear in the NBA last year with Oklahoma City (although he did not play any minutes). Shakur is big, quick, athletic, a scorer, a slasher, a full court player and an occasional defensive pest. He’s prone to silly mistakes, not a great half-court point guard and a mediocre jump shooter, but there’s a lot of talent, and it makes very little sense that someone like Smush Parker has played 7,069 NBA minutes while Mustafa Shakur has played 0.
Curtis Stinson – As ever, Stinson is in the D-League, his fifth consecutive year in the league and his fourth with the Iowa Energy. Stinson’s production is about as distinct as it is consistent; every year he puts up enormous minutes, huge assists, very good rebounding numbers, good steals, decent scoring on terrible efficiency, and very little outside shooting. This year is no different; Stinson is averaging 15.3 points (nominally up from last year’s 15.2), 8.4 assists (down from 10.9), 1.1 steals (down from 2.2), 4.5 rebounds (down from 5.6), and a whopping 5.4 turnovers (up from 4.2), all in 40.1 minutes per game (down from 42.4). Stinson shoots 47% from the field, which is healthy for a point guard, but it’s a number that doesn’t tell the truth; he has 0 made three pointers on the year, and rarely gets to the free throw lines, recording 245 total points on 223 total shots. His weaknesses are still present, his numbers are down from last year, and so is his stock. He also turns 28 next month. Nevertheless, if he can get his numbers back to where he is once again averaging a double double in points and assists, plus some big rebounding numbers for a 6’2 guard, then he’ll be impossible to ignore.
D.J. Strawberry – Strawberry has been playing two guard this season alongside Miles, and has also had to battle for time with Warriors assignee point guard Jeremy Lin. Last year, Strawberry had to come off the bench behind two other good quality D-League guards; Russell Robinson/Will Blalock and Desmond Farmer. He’s therefore not had much run as a full time point guard over the last two years, splitting time between the two guard positions depending on who is around him. Nevertheless, Strawberry is putting up 13.8 points, 3.2 rebounds and 2.3 assists in 29 minutes per contest, whilst playing his usual good quality defence, and had a realistic shot of making an NBA roster as recently as three months ago, when he signed with the Hornets for training camp.
Jamaal Tinsley – One thing that was never in doubt when Tinsley was in his prime was his talent. There were off-the-court incidents, weight problems, contract problems, glaring inconsistency, occasionally terrible shot selection, ball dominance, inefficiency, and some holes in his skill set, but few could deny his ability. He was an elite ball handler, a highly capable passer, a useful scorer and rebounder, and an incredibly capable defensive player when he wanted to be. But two years out of the game seemed to rob him of much of that; last year, in his comeback with the Memphis Grizzlies, Tinsley offered little. He still couldn’t shoot (.307% EFG on jump shots, with 78% of his FGA being jumpers), his turnovers were way up (3.9 per 36), his passing was way down (6.6 assists per 36 minutes with a 1.7:1 ratio), he couldn’t score (.438 TS%), he couldn’t run (there’s no statistic for this), and he couldn’t defend like he once could (his defensive rating of 109 wasn’t terrible, but it was a career worst). Tinsley could still dribble, but that doesn’t mean a lot on its own. He has remained unsigned this year, as have many players who posted a PER of 7.8 last year, and he turns 33 next month.
Maurice Ager – Ager started the year with the Timberwolves, surprisingly (and commendably) returning to the NBA after a terrible first three years. He played 29 minutes in 4 games, and shot 6-11 from the field, one of which was this:
Ager was waived when the Wolves needed a roster spot with which to sign an emergency point guard (Sundiata Gaines). He has remained unsigned since. However, with Gaines now waived, there may be an opportunity to return.
Antonio Anderson – Anderson is having a strangely bad season. Last year he was on the cusp of the NBA, having stints with both the Bobcats and Rockets, and even briefly played in it with the Thunder. When he wasn’t in the NBA, he was in the D-League, averaging 16/4/6 with good defence as a 6’6 point guard. This year, however, his numbers have nose dived. In 30 minutes per contest, Anderson is averaging only 8.1 points, 1.9 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game, shooting 37% from the field and 28% from three, looking considerably more like the player that he was in college. Anderson has been disadvantaged by the stacked Rio Grande Valley Vipers backcourt and wing positions; until recently, Garrett Temple was on the team, alongside the starting backcourt of the aforementioned Mustafa Shakur and leading scorer Jerel McNeal, with Richard Roby, Stanley Robinson and Terrel Harris also getting minutes. But Anderson was still getting opportunities as the starting small forward, and yet he has not responded.
Devin Brown – Brown flumped out of the NBA this summer after a poor season split between the Hornets and Bulls. His combined PER of 10.0 does not look good; his PER with Chicago of 0.4 tells an even less flattering tale. The formerly athletic player who used to be able to do everything but shoot, now does nothing but shoot, and yet is not a good shooter. Having turned 32 last week, the athleticism won’t be returning. An NBA redux looks unlikely.
Mardy Collins – Collins’s rookie contract expired without fanfare this summer, and he was passed over in the free agency market. He signed with the Wizards for training camp, but eventually did not attend due to a wrist injury, and has been unsigned since. Collins’s NBA career did not go particularly well; his positional crisis never got resolved, and in 189 career games, he returned a career PER of only 7.9, indicative of his struggles. He really needs to land somewhere secure, get in a good body of work, and put up significant production for the first time since college.
Joe Crawford – Crawford went to camp with the Kings, but did not make the team. A month after being waived, he joined up with Serie A strugglers Bancas Teramo, as a replacement for Mike Hall, yet he failed his physical and returned to America, where he has remained unsigned. Crawford appears not to want to get stuck with another year of D-League salaries, which is understandable, yet at this stage it would not be a bad idea. That is, unless he can find a way to return to China.
J.R. Giddens – Giddens also signed with Kings, yet too didn’t make it to the regular season roster. He instead found some EuroLeague ball when he joined Polish champions Gdynia. However, Gdynia failed to make it out of the EuroLeague group stages last month, and have thus released several of their imports to save money, one of whom was Giddens. Giddens averaged 9.0 points and 5.2 rebounds in 24 minutes per game in Gdynia’s unsuccessful EuroLeague run, and he took advantage of the shorter three point line to go 9-19 from downtown. That bodes well for a man whose biggest weakness has always been foul shooting. However, Giddens turns 26 next month, and needs to make his moves quickly. As of this moment, he hasn’t done much.
Larry Hughes – The Bobcats had Hughes last season, but in 14 games for the team, he put up career lows in PER (11.1) and true shooting percentage (.467). As has always been the case, Larry bases his game around a jump shot that he just doesn’t have, and with his 32nd birthday in a couple of weeks, it doesn’t look like things will change. Despite his flaws, Hughes is better than some players currently in the NBA, and is good enough to get back into it. Memphis were sniffing around recently. But with Larry Brown ousted in Charlotte, he’s running out of supporters.
Matt Janning – Janning won a roster spot from the Suns in preseason on account of the calibre of his jump shot. He lasted only three weeks before being waived to open up money for Earl Barron, whom Phoenix needed after Robin Lopez went down with injury, and Janning unfortunately never managed to play any regular season minutes for the team. Upon being waived, he went to the D-League to play for the Maine Red Claws, which has proven to be rather an unfortunate location for him. Every big man Maine acquires seems to get injured, yet they survive with an acceptable 8-9 record anyway due to the strength in depth of their backcourt. Janning is a part of this depth, yet the depth also hinders them; he has to share court time and the ball with Mario West, Jamar Smith, Lawrence Westbrook, Champ Oguchi, Paul Harris, Kenny Hayes, and for a while Bobcats assignee Sherron Collins. Nevertheless, Janning is putting up 8.1 points, 2.8 rebounds and 2.2 assists in his 22 minutes per game, shooting a sizzling 49% from three point range.
DerMarr Johnson – Johnson was a surprise inclusion on the Timberwolves training camp roster, but he didn’t even last a week. He quickly moved to the Lebanon to play for Sagesse, but was quickly replaced by Darryl Watkins. He is now unsigned.
Trey Johnson – Johnson is arguably the best player in the D-League. He certainly leads it in scoring, averaging 25.6 points per game, and adding 4.1 rebounds and 4.4 assists to along with it. Despite the name, Johnson doesn’t just cast up three pointers; in fact, he’s not even especially good at them. But every other part of his offensive game is fluid, effective and complete. He can drive, create his own shot, finish around the basket, hit any kind of jump shot from the mid-range, get to the line, isolate from the wing, run the break, lead the break, and even play some point guard. He is no athlete and not much of a defender, but he scores big and he scores efficiently, and is big enough (6’5-6’6ish) to play in the NBA. Trey has had a couple of looks in the big league, and has played in it on ten day contracts with the Cavaliers. But he should probably have had more than that by now.
Damon Jones – Since falling out of the NBA, Jones has continued to play basketball. He started last year in Italy, but the team he joined went bankrupt within about six weeks, then he earned some summer money in Puerto Rico. Jones is currently unsigned, doing a series of endorsements and appearances.
Rashad McCants – McCants’s employment situation is unclear. He signed very late in training camp with the Dallas Mavericks, apparently believing that he had a legitimate chance of making the team. The Mavericks, however, seemed to believe they were signing McCants purely so that when he later went to the D-League, he would be automatically assigned to their self-owned affiliate, the Texas Legends. This is eventually what happened, yet McCants did not report immediately as he pursued other NBA offers, and when he finally did, he left after only three games to allegedly go and sign in China with Liaoning. However, Liaoning eventually settled upon former Hawks swingman Donta Smith instead, so McCants is now once again in limbo, being neither with the Mavericks, the Legends or the Panpan Hunters. Somewhere amidst it all, McCants committed to giving his D-League salary away to charity.
In the three games he played for Texas, McCants averaged 12.3 points in 18.7 minutes per game. He certainly has the ability to get back into the NBA. But as ever, that isn’t really the point.
Ronald Flip Murray – Murray went unsigned this summer after a pretty poor season split between the Bobcats and Bulls. He went to China to look for a contract, but was unable to get one, and was similarly unsuccessful at a workout with the Grizzlies last month. He remains unsigned, and is a reasonable candidate for an NBA return some day.
Kareem Rush – Rush has been out for an extended period after a serious knee injury sustained with the Clippers early last season. He has been rehabbing since that time, as well as releasing some music, but has yet to make his playing return.
Garrett Temple – Temple began the season with the Spurs, but was released after only two weeks. He subsequently went to the D-League, and averaged 12.4 points, 3.4 rebounds and 3.2 assists on the stacked Rio Grande Valley Vipers roster, before being traded to the Erie BayHawks last week. Temple is one on the cusp of the NBA, and has considerably improved his three point shooting.
Kyle Weaver – Weaver signed with the Bulls for training camp, and, in his few preseason minutes, played rather well. He had every chance of making a Bulls roster that had two open roster spots, plus a need for a two guard. However, Weaver undermined his own chances by reportedly being late for practice on more than one occasion, which is just not a good idea when you are fighting for a roster spot on an unguaranteed contract. Weaver has since gone to the D-League to play for the Bulls’s affiliate, the Iowa Energy, and has returned good all around stats. He is averaging 17.4 points, 6/1 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 3.1 turnovers, 1.3 steals and 1.3 blocks in 39 minutes per game, shooting 46% from the field and 43% from three. He remains on the cusp. But with Chicago, he blew a good chance.
|Another bad hairstyle|
Rodney Carney – Carney was just cut by the Warriors, after receiving scant little playing time behind the breakout star that is Dorell Wright. He shot 45% from three point range this season, but the sample size was so small that it probably doesn’t mean anything; until emphatically proven otherwise, Carney is the 33% outside shooter that he was before this season. Carney hasn’t improved in four years, and while he’s decent defensively, it’s nothing exceptional. There’s no one particularly strong facet to his game. Not unless he can sustain the 45% three point shooting, at least.
Ricky Davis – Davis is still going, despite long since departing the NBA. He signed in China to begin this season, proudly announcing his intention so win the championship, the MVP award, and the scoring title. But in reality, he was one of the least effective imports of all. Davis averaged 13.1 points, 3.8 rebounds and 3.0 assists in 30 minutes per game, scoring 118 points on 112 shots; they’re solid numbers, but they pale in comparison to what Chinese import numbers are normally like, and they certainly weren’t what Jiangsu were paying big money for. Davis was released last week and replaced by Antoine Wright. After three mediocre years, Buckets looks done.
Ronald Dupree – Right when it looked as though Doop would never get back to the NBA, he did exactly that when he joined the Raptors last month. However, Dupree has been a victim to both the contract guarantee date, the Raptors record, and their depth chart – with only two point guards on the roster, both of whom are injured, any slim chance Dupree had of sticking around was stamped out to the more pressing (albeit still unfilled) need for an extra point. Dupree is still an athletic defensive specialist, but teams looking for such a player might look for a younger one.
Patrick Ewing Jr – After missing 18 months due to injury, Ewing began his comeback with the Knicks, and would have won a roster spot were it not for Shawne Williams’s rather amazing career resurgence. After being cut, Ewing went to the D-League, where he has had the best season of his career with the Reno Bighorns. He is averaging 17.3 points, 8.1 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 2.0 steals and 1.1 blocks per game, an effective and dynamic player on both ends of the court. He’s even shooting slightly better, pouring in a three a game at 34%. Ewing was always more about potential than production, even when he was drafted, but now there’s a lot of production there. A call-up would be highly justified.
Michael Finley – Finley didn’t secure a new contract over the summer, and fell out of the NBA at age 37. At that age, and with his talents withered away to the point that he is a marginal NBA player, he is not likely to return. But all it takes is one or two major injuries to a contending team, and he could be right back, spotting up for big playoff threes.
Tony Gaffney – Gaffney was an early cut by the Celtics in preseason, and moved to Turkey to play for Turk Telekom. He did not stay long, however; after only two months, averaging 6.0 points and 2.4 rebounds in 8 Turkish league games, he has left the team and gone to the D-League. At the time of writing, Gaffney has yet to join any specific D-League team.
Devean George – Last year was George’s best statistical season of his NBA career, a testament to how Nellieball consistently achieved the unlikely accomplishment of getting the most out of its players while getting the least out of its team. Nevertheless, George was unable to turn this performance into a new contract, and he remains unsigned. However, while Don Nelson was able to get production out of George, Donnie Nelson was always his biggest fan. And with Caron Butler suffering a season ending patella tendon injury this week – here’s a picture of him going for surgery – George’s luck might not be out yet if the Mavericks have any residual love left for him.
Danny Green – Green was waived by the Cavaliers in training camp, but briefly caught on with the Spurs. He scored 6 points in 9 minutes, but was waived in favour of Ime Udoka. After this, Green was in talks to be Joe Crawford’s replacement at Serie A side Bancas Teramo, but they were unable to meet his salary demands. Green remains unsigned, and because he was called up to the NBA as recently as two months ago, another call-up could certainly be possible.
Paul Harris – Syracuse graduate Harris missed all of last season due to injury, but is now back playing. He has joined up with the Maine Red Claws, the D-League team he would have been with last season were it not for the injury, and is averaging 11.5 points and 7.5 rebounds in 16 games. Harris is also shooting 10-26 from three point range – it’s not spectacular, but it’s certainly the thing he needed to work on most. If he can now grow 4 inches, he’ll be primed for a call-up.
Trenton Hassell – Hassell’s $27 million contract expired this summer, and his NBA career seems to have expired with it. He is only 31 years old, yet throughout the life of his contract, Hassell became such a poor offensive player that his defence no longer made up for it. Hassell is unsigned, and offers good if unathletic defensive play, but all he will contribute offensively is one post-up a night and reasonable entry passing. Others in this list will offer more than that.
Jarvis Hayes – Like Hassell, Hayes walked away unchallenged from the New Jersey Nets this summer, and last month got renounced to accommodate Sasha Vujacic. Talks with Boston at the beginning of free agency went nowhere, and Hayes has been unsigned since. He offers decent wing defence, size and some moderate outside shooting, but excels in no individual facet.
Julius Hodge – Since leaving the NBA, Hodge has put up superstar numbers in a variety of leagues. He put up 19/8/9 in the D-League down the stretch of the 2006/07 season, put up 24/8/6 in the same place at the end of the 2007/08 season, and in between the two averaged 25/9/6 in Australia. He went back to Australia for 2008/09 and averaged 26/8/6, but left in acrimonious circumstances, and saw out the season averaging 12/6/6 in France. A further 18/5/6 in Australia followed last year, and this summer he played in the Chinese NBL league – a summertime campaign without the calibre or prestige of the main CBA – putting up 29/9/7. Included in that last stint were statlines like 30 points, 20 rebounds, 7 assists and 6 steals, or 48/17/5, although these say more about the standard of the league. Hodge fell out of the NBA because he wasn’t hugely athletic, couldn’t defend the point guard position at the NBA level, and had a very poor outside jump shot. These things are still true. It also didn’t help that he got shot. But he’s putting up huge numbers regardless, and should probably look for a better quality of employment.
Luke Jackson – Perennial candidate Jackson continues to seek an NBA comeback, which he fleetingly achieved with a training camp contract in Memphis. However, his subsequent trip to the D-League has seen a decline in his numbers. In his fourth consecutive season with the Idaho Stampede, Jackson is averaging 14.9 points, 5.8 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 1.9 steals in 32 minutes per game, but he’s doing so on sub-40% shooting. And while Jackson is shooting 36% from three, there are better shooting specialists out there.
Othyus Jeffers – Jeffers was waived by the Jazz in camp, and returned to the D-League. He is averaging 19.4 points, 9.3 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.8 steals per game, improving his numbers from last year. However, his shooting percentage is down to 44% from 54% two years ago, and while he’s taking more threes than before, he’s hitting only 20% of them. His turnovers are also up to 3.2 per game, the side effect of increased offensive responsibility. But in spite of his subpar jump shot, Jeffers gets to the line, defends in a slightly gambly way, rebounds very well from the wing, and has NBA size.
Marcus Landry – Landry is also in the D-League, playing for the Reno Bighorns. He is averaging 16.6 points and 4.1 rebounds in 37 minutes per game, shooting 42% from the field and 41% from three, while taking almost 6 three pointers a game. While his fellow starting forward Patrick Ewing Jr is doing a little of everything, Landry continues to develop a niche as a shooting specialist. This is fine in theory, and he’s proving to be a good one, but he shouldn’t completely go away from the more versatile game he used as Wisconsin. He could also benefit from improved rebounding numbers, something he’s never been above average at.
Desmond Mason – In the summertime, it was said that Mason wanted to make one last comeback attempt. However, as of right now, it has not happened. Mason is instead making his way as an artist, something that was always a part-time venture during his NBA career. Three months ago, Mason won a year’s free use of an art studio, for the showcasing of his work. No longer the athlete he was, Mason’s previous comeback attempt with the Kings was not pretty. And outside of that one summertime sentence, there’s not a whole lot of evidence that another one is sought. But if it is, Mason will be on the radar because of the pedigree of his CV, moreso than his time with the Kings.
Renaldo Major – Major received a ten day contract four years ago with the Chris Mullin-era Warriors back in 2006-07, but things have not gone so well since. Major was in the D-League at the time of that call-up, and has been there ever since, a consistently productive player on both ends of the floor. However, he also suffered quite a serious heart scare that robbed him of the 2007-08 season, that required open heart surgery. Major is fine now, though, and still productive; he’s averaging 16.8 points and 4.4 rebounds per game for the Dakota Wizards this season, along with some of the best perimeter D in the D-League, and a fine two point jump shot.
Adam Morrison – Workouts with basically every NBA team over the summer eventually culminated in a training camp contract with the Washington Wizards, yet that in turn eventually culminated on losing out on a roster spot to Cartier Martin. Morrison is unsigned, not in the D-League nor anywhere, and would probably do well to suck it up and go to the D-League. The prorated $25,000 salary is a far cry from the $5.5 million he earned last year, but if he treats it like summer league (and produces as if it was summer league as well), then that might represent his one chance at a ticket back. In spite of everything else, Morrison is not talentless.
Stanley Robinson – Robinson’s stock has been completely annihilated in the last twelve months. Even though he showed some improvements in his senior season, UConn imploded around him, and Robinson’s once-surefire first-round draft stock eventually picked with the penultimate 59th pick of the entire thing. He then got injured, failed to make the Magic team, got waived, went to the D-League, came off the bench behind Antonio Anderson, got injured again (or more specifically, ill, with a staph infection in his foot that left him hospitalised), and thus got waived again.
In his brief time with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, Robinson showed the range of his talents, averaging 9.7 points and 2.7 rebounds in only 11 minutes a game. He’s big, athletic, hustles, plays defence, deflects, blocks, dunks, yells, rebounds, runs, passes and posts. The D-League is the perfect place to rebuild his crippled stock, and he certainly has the talent to do so. But a stroke of luck wouldn’t go amiss.
(EDIT – My incredibly close personal friend Scott Schroeder informs me that Robinson’s staph infection has ruled him out for the year.)
Bobby Simmons – Simmons began the year with the Spurs, and helped them on the way to their current 70 win pace with 16 scoreless minutes. He was then waived as the Spurs began an early season end-of-the-bench carousel that saw them eventually settle on Chris Quinn and Ime Udoka. Simmons didn’t appear to have anything left, nor did he appear to have anything left last year with the Nets. He’s only 30, but he’s lost a lot since he was 25.
Jerry Stackhouse – Stackhouse briefly sniffed the NBA earlier this season with the Miami Heat, but shot only 25% in 7 games and was cut for Erick Dampier. Since that time, Stack has been doing work for NBA TV rather than playing. He has already made one comeback from what appeared to be early retirement, but a second one doesn’t seem likely. And at aged 36, I don’t think retirement could be considered “early” any more.
Ime Udoka – Udoka was cut yesterday by the tax-threatened Spurs, just before the contract guarantee date. He was far less successful in his second stint with the Spurs than in his first, averaging only 3.9 points per 36 minutes and missing all of his threes. Udoka was never a particularly adept or versatile dynamic offensive player, but at least he offered a jump shot. Over the last two years, he seems to have lost it.
Damien Wilkins – Wilkins was picked up midseason by the Hawks when Joe Johnson got injured, but he too was released because of the contract guarantee date. He didn’t manage much in his 13 games with the team, putting up a PER of 9.7 and not exactly being an ideal fit for the team already with the fairly similar Maurice Evans. Wilkins can contribute on both ends of the floor, but he turns 31 next week and offers no one particular speciality.
Jeff Adrien – Adrien did well to win a roster spot with the Warriors in training camp, making up for his significant size disadvantage through sheer bloody mindedness and aggressive. He was however waived in December, after averaging 2.9 points and 3.3 rebounds in 16 games, when Ekpe Udoh returned from injury and the Warriors’ priority became point guard depth. (Or conceivably, since they signed Acie Law, small forward depth.) Adrien went immediately to the D-League, where he averaged 11.2 points and 8.0 rebounds off the bench for the Erie BayHawks before being traded to the Rio Grande Valley Vipers (where, with the recall of Patrick Patterson, he immediately became their best big man). Adrien played sufficiently well in his time at Golden State that he’s in position for another call-up later – as Chuck Hayes and Craig Smith have proved, it’s OK to be a power forward with a shooting guard’s height if you’re just better than the bigger guys.
Joe Alexander – After two years of unadulterated fail, Alexander has started to put something together. Failing to make the Hornets regular season roster out of training camp – although picking up $200,000 for his efforts – Alexander went to the D-League, and was acquired by the Mavericks’ affiliate, the Texas Legends. Alexander has gone on to become one of the better players in the D-League, averaging 19.3 points, 11.1 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.4 blocks in a hefty 43.6 minutes per game, shooting 48% from the field and 33% from three. Alexander also averages 4 fouls and 3.4 turnovers per game, yet the rest of the production is there across the board. A lottery team looking to use 10 day contracts to find potential future pieces could find some success with Alexander, if they forget what has gone before.
Jonathan Bender – Bender’s comeback last season was a nice story with an anti-climactic ending. A bench player for an underwhelming Knicks team, Bender went unsigned in free agency and has not caught on anywhere since. In the court time he managed, Bender showed some skills on both ends of the court, albeit without any of the athleticism that made him such a coveted asset before the injuries. He was, to coin a phrase, all right. But an extended comeback has not been forthcoming, and it’s unclear as to whether he even wants one.
Wayne Chism – Tennessee graduate Chism began the season in the Turkey, playing for Antalya, where he was known as Dwayne (which is actually his given middle name; Devon Dwayne Chism. Guess he didn’t like the D. Or the Devon.) He injured his knee in preseason, returned to play four games, averaged 5 points and 3 rebounds, then was released late last month when Antalya decided they would prefer more of a true centre. This has led to a contract dispute between the team and Chism’s agents that, as far as I can tell, has not yet been resolved; when it is, Chism would seem a logical candidate for the D-League, unless he can find good highly paid work elsewhere. In this era of the face-up athletic power forward, Chism has a faint chance.
Shane Edwards – Edwards has capitalised on his breakout season last year by becoming one of the best players in the D-League. The power forward in a small forward’s body has not made any significant strides to becoming a better small forward; rather, he’s focused his efforts on becoming a better power forward. It’s working, too, as Edwards has uppsed his scoring (12.7ppg in 2009 to 19.9ppg in 2010), his rebounding (5.3 to 7.8) and his assists (0.8 to 2.0), with only a slight decline in his efficiency (59% FG from 62%). This was expected with such an enhanced scoring load, yet it also disguises the fact that Edwards gets to the line 8 times a game and hits them at 76%, resulting in a true shooting percentage of .649%. 6’7 220lb power forwards are not the norm at the NBA level, but when you’re good, you’re good.
Marcus Fizer – Fizer’s career has been decimated by knee injuries, starting with the one he sustained as a Chicago Bull in early 2003 and continuing 8 years later. He has spent most of the last few years split between Israel and Puerto Rico – as far as I know, there is no direct flight between the two – and intended to return to the Israeli Superleague this season when he signed with Maccabi Ashdod last month. However, Fizer failed the medical examination because of his long standing knee history, and the signing was never finalised. It might behoove Fizer to lose some of the formidable upper body strength he has always carried in order to prolong his career; the injury history rather confirms that his knees can’t handle it, and he is now 32 years old. Knees don’t improve at 32 years old.
Tiny Gallon – After being cut by the Bucks, picked up by the Celtics, and cut by the Celtics, Keith went to the D-League to play for the Maine Red Claws. As the only decent quality Red Claw big man not to have been injured so far this season, Gallon has had ample opportunity to impress, and has returned decent numbers of 16.3 points, 8.5 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 3.7 turnovers in 31 minutes per game. However, the same problems remain; the 300lb Gallon will still drift outside to shoot jumpers than stand under the basket and throw himself at it, and needs constant coercion to remember to rebound. Still only 19 for another fortnight, Gallon has a very long time to turn it around, and has plenty of skills. He just needs to get his attitude to match his talent. And if he could lose the chip off of his shoulder in the process, this would help.
Marcus Haislip – Haislip was today released by Spanish giants Caja Laboral. He averaged 6.3 points and 1.9 rebounds in ACB play, but was released and replaced by Esteban Batista. Haislip was in the NBA to begin last season with the Spurs, but asked for a midseason buyout to return to Europe as he could not find minutes in their stacked front court. Haislip is certainly capable of playing in the NBA, and gave up doing so only because he wanted to seek high level European basketball employment (which for him offer more playing time, stardom, and money). However, now that he doesn’t have high level European basketball employment – not this week, at least – might he want to come back?
Walter Herrmann – Herrmann negotiated a release from Caja Laboral in the summer so that he could pursue a return to the NBA, yet ended up with no team whatsoever. He is single and looking.
Alexander Johnson – The Rockets waived Johnson in preseason, and he too is unsigned and looking. It is a surprise as to why. He is strong, athletic, aggressive and relentless, with good touch, decent hands, a great rebounding rate, and even the ability to create some offence for himself. He absolutely cannot stop fouling, but since he would not be a big minute player in the NBA, this doesn’t matter as much. Unless he is hurt, Johnson should be signed somewhere, anywhere, and the NBA is as feasible of a place for him as any.
Pops Mensah-Bonsu – Pops made the Hornets roster in training camp, but was waived today because of the contract guarantee date. He played only 35 minutes in total for the Hornets, recording 2 points, 11 rebounds and 11 fouls. As ever, Pops stands to provide plenty of good with plenty of bad, an intricate mix of exciting and excruciating play. By this time, his dye is cast.
Steve Novak – Dallas waived Novak yesterday after giving him a spot out of training camp. His dye is cast, too, and unashamedly so, although the three point specialist managed to get off as many twos (4) and he did threes (4) in his brief stint with the Mavericks. This is probably not evidence of Novak’s development into a more all-around player, however.
Darius Miles – Miles signed with the Bobcats in preseason, seemingly in anticipation of an extended comeback. But he did not make the team and has not yet signed elsewhere. The comeback might be over, but I’m willing to bet that the party isn’t.
Shavlik Randolph – Randolph received $250,000 from the Heat this summer in exchange for absolutely nothing at all. This represents the value of being a midseason pick-up for a team with cap space aspirations the following summer; if they strike gold, they might get drunk and commit money to you, even when knowing you will not make their team. Flush with cash, Randolph inevitably did not make the team, and has not signed elsewhere. He still has not played anywhere except in the NBA since leaving Duke, and looks to be in no hurry to start doing so.
DeShawn Sims – Sims began the year with a training camp invite from the Boston Celtics, but turned it down in order to sign in Greece with PAOK Thessaloniki. He played only three games with PAOK, however, one of which was this truly bizarre event. (All Greek players, except those of Olympiacos and Panathinaikos, were on strike, and PAOK had only their five imports available. Rough night for Donnie McGrath, one assist away from the elusive 40 Trillion.) Sims then walked out on PAOK without telling them and returned to America, where, after a brief contract dispute, he joined the D-League’s Maine Red Claws. Sims has since poured in 17.7 points and 8.8 rebounds per game, shooting 54% from the field, and being the inside/outside scoring threat he was at Michigan to go along with some decent rebounding and acceptable defence. He is not of the forward call-ups list, but he’s on it.
Stromile Swift – Despite starring there last year, Stromile Swift has not returned to China this year. And despite being a good player in it for many years, Stromile has yet to return to the NBA either. Stromile is unsigned altogether, and the comeback doesn’t look possible now.
Kenny Thomas – Thomas attempted a comeback from a progressive yet emphatic three year decline when he signed with the Grizzlies for training camp. However, he didn’t show that he had anything left. If Thomas can rustle up a second wind from somewhere, he will be looked at for his heady veteranness. But a second wind seems unlikely. These days, he is little more than a trillion threat.
Antoine Walker – You probably already knew that Toine was attempting an inauspicious comeback via the D-League, knowing full well that $25k wouldn’t assuage his money worries but hoping it could vault him onto a bigger platform that might. Here’s how it’s going: 9 games, 5 starts, 17.0 points, 6.2 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 3.3 turnovers in 32 minutes per game, shooting 46% from the field, 35% from three and 59% from the line.
Look at some of the D-League numbers above and tell me if these ones would stand out to you if the man who put them up was actually called Spanky McFadden or something. I doubt it. They stand out because they’re the number of fallen giant Antoine Walker, not because they are especially good. Antoine’s comeback might be well intentioned, but he just doesn’t have the skills to be an NBA player any more.
|This is funny.|
Earl Barron – Barron was a midseason pick-up of the Suns, but he struggled badly. In 12 games, featuring six starts, Barron averaged only 3.0 points, 3.3 rebounds and 2.7 fouls per game, shooting only 24% from the field and losing the rebounding interest that he demonstrated for the first time last season. Barron has great size and a (normally) highly effective mid-range jump shot, but he struggles defensively, and he just doesn’t rebound enough. His seven game stint with the Knicks in 2009-10 was an impressive yet anomalous fluke.
Jackie Butler – It has now been four years since Jackie Butler last took the floor in a professional basketball game. And yet strangely, he is still only 25. Butler makes this list anyway because athletic, scoring bigs like he was are permanently difficult to find. But not as difficult to find as Jackie Butler currently is.
Jarron Collins – Collins made the Clippers roster in training camp, but did the usual Collins thing of having no statistical production whatsoever. He averaged 4.1 points, 3.3 rebounds and 5.6 fouls per 36 minutes, shooting 33% from the field and putting up a PER of 1.3. Coaches love the Collins’s for the things that don’t show up in the stat sheet, but when absolutely nothing shows up in the stat sheet, you can’t overlook it all.
Marcus Cousin – Cousin has gone from being a decent player at Houston, to a bad player in Turkey, to a good player in the D-League. There was nothing in his professional career prior to this season to suggest he could have achieved what he has done this season, yet playing for the Spurs owned affiliate the Austin Toros, Cousin (Coo-sawn) has averaged 14.6 points and 8.6 rebounds in 29 minutes a game, shooting 54% from the field and 82% from the free throw line. It’s not the most fluid or exceptional production, but it’s good, and from a hitherto surprising source. Cousin has NBA size as 6’11 and 255lbs, and despite being something of a late bloomer, he’s definitely bloomed.
Jermareo Davidson – Former Bobcats and Warriors big man Davidson began the year in Russia, backing up Primoz Brezec at Krasnie Krylya Samara. However, he averaged only 4.6 points and 4.0 rebounds in the Russian PBL, and was released along with Qyntel Woods after Samara fell out of the EuroCup. Davidson then returned to the D-League to play for the Idaho Stampede, where he has totalled 33 points and 13 rebounds in 2 games. He will score on jump shots and sheer athleticism, while rebounding decently to boot. If Ryan Hollins is a semi-regular NBA player, surely Jermareo Davidson can be too.
Steven Hunter – Hunter’s NBA career probably ended this summer when his five year Billy King special did. The young Steven Hunter that was a athletic 7 foot shot-blocking specialist has been taken from us (and more importantly, from him) due to chronic knee complaints that have effectively forced his retirement, even if such retirement is not official yet. Given the chance of a miracle cure, Hunter would garner interest, but if you want an athletic 7 footer, you might as well have Ryan Hollins. Or Jermareo Davidson.
Chris Johnson – Johnson has taken his training camp contract with the Boston Celtics, and turned it into a hugely productive D-League season. Starting at centre for the Dakota Wizards, Hunter is averaging 17.1 points, 9.4 rebounds and 3.1 blocks in 38 minutes per game, a lone bright spot in the Wizards’s otherwise tortuous 4-13 season. Johnson is only averaging 1.3 assists per game, compared to 3.3 turnovers per game, but this is explainable with a look at the Wizards’s god awful floor spacing. In 17 games, the team has hit only 40 total three pointers, shooting 23.4% as a team from downtown. Starting point guard Darren Cooper leads the team with 10 makes, but he’s taken 50 tries to do it; the second leading three point shooter is his backup, Brandon Johnson, yet Johnson is shooting only 8-36 from downtown. Ironically, the team’s leader in three point percentage is Johnson, who is 1-2. Johnson has always been a good jump shooter, which, combined with his athleticism, height and shot-blocking, makes him an interesting prospect in a modern NBA that favours this skillset.
Mikki Moore – A player Johnson somewhat resembles, Moore has not played since being waived by the Warriors this time last season. Moore is 35, which is never a good sign for a man whose game is predicated on athleticism, yet he was still a fairly athletic player at this time last season, and was an NBA-rotation calibre player as recently as three years ago. There may still be something left. Conversely, considering how mediocre he was for Golden State (and how bad he was for Boston before that), there may not be.
Patrick O’Bryant – O’Bryant signed in China fairly early on this summer, but was replaced in preseason by Chris Porter after Fujian were disappointed with his play. (Porter himself lasted only 2 games.) O’Bryant has not signed elsewhere since, but for him to make it back into the NBA, he would have to start improving. He has not done this for four years.
Courtney Sims – As usual, Sims is with the Iowa Energy. His stock has wavered over the last year, after previous being a highly desired fringe NBA centre, but he’s in the midst of a good season that has put him back in the frame. Sims is averaging 18.4 points and 9.6 rebounds, shooting 59% from the floor and 74% from the free throw line. Alarmingly, he is turning it over 3.4 times per game, and is not much of a defensive presence, yet he is that rare and special creature, the 6’11 scorer.
Brian Skinner – After waiving him in training camp, Milwaukee brought back Skinner as injury cover a month later, but have since cut him again. Skinner put up six trillion for the Bucks, but despite a couple of quiet years, he may still have something left to give. He certainly used to.
Jake Voskuhl – Voskuhl lost out on a spot in training camp to Jarron Collins. He has remained unsigned since, and is increasingly far removed from his last decent NBA season.
Justin Williams – The former Kings project has not played for over two years, since an unsuccessful tryout with Turkish side Besiktas. Now 26, if he’s as raw offensively as he was before, his window will be shut.
Sean Williams – Williams’s disjointed season last year, best described here, has given way to more consistent employment with the Texas Legends. He is averaging 16.5 points, 10.0 rebounds and 3.1 blocks in 35 minutes per game, shooting 64% from the field and an improved 70% from the free throw line. Williams is fouling 4 times a game and has 2.8 nightly turnovers as well, but he is playing well, showing the skills he always had, improving his flaws, and not getting into trouble. It’s been a successful start to his comeback.
Brian Zoubek – Zoobs failed to make the Nets roster out of training camp, and has not signed elsewhere in the two months since. Through sheer size and rebounding alone, he has something to offer an NBA team, and could easily what Aaron Gray does without interspersing the occasional moments of offensive grandeur (and even more occasionally, effectiveness) that Gray does. He could do this for the Nets, who could still use a centre.
Players who would otherwise be listed, but who are not due to long term injury, include Mike Taylor, Jeff Pendergraph, Darington Hobson, Da’Sean Butler, Stephane Lasme, Brian Butch, Chris Hunter and Magnum Rolle.
Not all of the players on this list are likely or viable ten day contract candidates. Not even slightly. There is no way in hell, for example, that Steve Francis returns to the NBA as a player, no matter how short the period of time. The athleticism has gone, the skills are fading fast, and the basketball IQ was never there. The list is nonetheless designed to be comprehensive.
Furthermore, there aren’t a whole lot of spaces for these players to go. At the moment, there are 425 players on NBA rosters, out of a possible maximum of 450. Of those 25 remaining spaces, many are owned by teams such as the L.A. Lakers, Atlanta Hawks and Denver Nuggets, who won’t be using them because of luxury tax concerns. When teams such as Sacramento utilise their payroll flexibility to help these expensive teams dump salary, this may open up potential spots for D-League call-ups and the like, yet it still remains a huge number of people vying for a tiny number of spaces. The chances of any player on the cusp earning a call-up to the NBA and sticking, as Will Conroy will tell you, are somewhere between slim and none.
Signings will happen, however. And by being so comprehensive, it is hoped that it’s a statistical certainty that they will come from this list.