Scanning the Summer Rosters
Posted Jul 24 2007 5:57AM
SECAUCUS, N.J., July 12 2007-- I started by checking the Sixers roster.
I wanted to see how their summer league squad is doing and check out how my fellow Orangeman, Gerry McNamara, fared on a bum ankle (to be honest, not that well -- three points and three turnovers in eight minutes) in his summer league debut.
Before I left the page, my eyebrows raised when I noticed a couple local guys whose names I recognized from growing up entrenched in the Philly hoop scene (Christian Burns - Philadelphia University, Dustin Salisbery - Temple).
Then I went to the Celtics roster to see how Rajon Rondo has been doing at the point now that Delonte West and Sebastian Telfair are out of the picture, and again I lingered on the page when I recognized a trio of guys who played against Syracuse in the Big East (Torin Francis - Notre Dame, Eric Hicks - Cincinnati, Allan Ray - Villanova) and another Philadelphia guy (Pat Carroll - St. Joe's).
As I unearthed all of these hidden gems and experienced so many, "So that's where that guy is!" moments in a row, it really felt like Christmas in July and I even started humming the prelude to "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer":
You know Rudy, and Boobie, and
I started taking notes and before I knew it, I had a column on my hands. There weren't just guys from 'Cuse and from Philly that were noteworthy, there were guys from all over. Opening up each new roster page was like opening up a box of my old stuff in my mom's basement and discovering where everything went.
And now, these are the 10 things I learned from rifling through the summer league rosters (click on a player's linked name to see his summer league stats) ...
1. Is that the same Lamond Murray?
Yes, that is in fact the same Lamond Murray who already has 11 years of experience in the NBA, amassing over 8,000 career points with the Clippers, Cavs, Raptors and Nets.
The 34-year old forward out of Cal, who has only played four games with the Clippers last season before being cut, is looking to fill Denver's seemingly never-ending need for outside shooting help. Anybody remember Voshon Lenard? So far he has been up and down -- 17 points on 4-for-7 shooting from downtown in his first game and two points on 0-for-4 shooting from deep in his second.
There is something endearing about Murray still lacing them up with a group of neophytes who are 10 years younger than him purely for the love of the game and to prove to himself (and the Nuggets) that there are still shots to be hoisted, cuts to be taken and defensive stops to be made in that body of his.
2. Former Champions
I already mentioned G-Mac, whose six threes in the first half of the 2003 NCAA Championship Game helped lift Syracuse over Kansas but there's another guy playing for the Timberwolves who didn't just win a chip in 2000, he was named Most Outstanding Player of the tourney in the process.
The player I'm referring to is Michigan State's Mateen Cleaves, who had stints with the Pistons, Kings, Cavs and Sonics in the NBA and on several teams in the D-League and is still fighting to continue his NBA career.
Funny enough, McNamara and Cleaves were actually teammates on the Bakersfield Jam last season in the D-League.
Then there's the Tarheel-heavy Bobcats with Raymond Felton, Jawad Williams and Jackie Manuel on a team run by UNC's Michael Jordan, plus another alumnus in Reyshawn Terry on the Mavericks.
Talk about the back-to-back winners and you obviously have Al Horford on the Hawks and Joakim Noah on the Bulls (both playing in the Orlando summer league), but don't forget Florida's backcourt of Lee Humphrey on the Wizards and Taurean Green on the Trail Blazers.
3. Former Runners-Ups
Their names might not ring a bell with you quite as much as the ring wearers mentioned above, but back when their teams made their runs to the NCAA title game, their names were as household as Mr. Clean. Check it out:
2000 Runner Up Florida: Donnell Harvey (Spurs)
4. Disney Sponsoring the Kings?
Is it possible that the Maloof brothers are in contract negotiations with Disney to start a cartoon themed casino and in order to sweeten the deal they are using the Kings summer league roster to promote Mickey & Co.?
OK, this is a completely fictitious claim on my part, but look at some of the names on their roster:
Come on, what are the odds? If they pick up James Alladin or Bob Mulan off of waivers, I am going right to the Wall Street Journal with this scoop.
5. New Beginnings
Julius Hodge was on the Nuggets and the Bucks last season, now he's giving it a go with the Sonics. P.J. Tucker was a second round draft pick by the Raptors a season ago and is trying to latch onto the Cavs. And Kareem Rush spent last season out of the NBA after playing for the Bobcats in 2005-06 and is now on the Pacers' summer squad.
All three of these guys went to big name schools (N.C. State, Texas and Missouri respectively) and their talents were well chronicled in college. Now they'll all share the tough task of re-establishing themselves as players that belong in the league.
6. Best Names
Not much to this one other than these are two cool names.
The Cavs are giving Kevin Pittsnogle a chance which is great just for the single reason that fans will get to hear play-by-play announcers turn his surname into a verb again -- "Oh my! You just got Pittsnogled!" -- and Scooter McFadgon is running with the Grizzlies. Scooter McFadgon? Seriously? It sounds like it should be the name of the protagonist in a Matt Christopher book, and even then it would be unbelievable.
7. From Lottery Locks to Summer League Hopefuls
Rodney White and Nikoloz Tskitishvili, they're linked in their NBA careers in more ways than one.
First they were both top 10 draft picks in the early '00s (White No. 9 in '01 by Detroit, Tskitishvili No. 5 in '02 by Denver).
Then they were both part of a joint deal when they were traded from the Nuggets to the Golden State Warriors in exchange for Eduardo Najera, Luis Flores and a future first round draft pick in 2007 (from Dallas) on Feb. 24, 2005.
And now they are both trying to re-invent themselves and fulfill the lottery promise they showed a half decade ago, White with the Lakers and Tskitishvili back with the team that started it all for him, Denver.
8. UCLA Blasts from the Pasts
Jelani McCoy and Toby Bailey both left UCLA at the same time and entered the NBA in the 1998-99 season meaning that these guys were in college back when Party of Five was popular. Yeah, exactly, they're ancient.
Well, apparently not that ancient. Bailey is making a comeback attempt with the Warriors and McCoy is hoping his route back to the L will start on the Nuggets summer league roster. Much like with Lamond Murray, you have to respect their journeys and never-say-die attitudes.
9. D-League Dreamer
You might remember Darius Rice for his 43 points against UConn when he was at the University of Miami, or for him being Jerry Rice's cousin, or even for his record-setting 52 point explosion in the D-League Championship Game last spring.
But now the 6-10, 215 pound forward, with a body like Darius Miles and an outside touch like Dirk Nowitzki, is with the Cavaliers in Vegas, trying to make you not just remember him for all that, but to know him as an NBA player.
10. From NBA TV to NBA Summer League
A couple of weeks ago, just before the Draft, Randy Livingston was here at our office in Secaucus along with Felipe Lopez completing an internship of sorts with NBA TV. Livingston and Lopez both showed interest in a life after basketball on television and the folks at NBA TV were more than happy to show them the ropes and impart some knowledge to them.
The "after basketball" part will have to wait for Livingston, as I found him still giving hoops a go on the Pistons roster. Livingston, like all the guys I mentioned above, has basketball in his blood and the opportunity to continue a life on the hardwood is a joyous task, much the same way going through all the summer league rosters was a joyous task for me.
Have a question or comment for The McTen or care to share what you learned this week? Send an e-mail.