Here it is; the long-awaited (okay maybe not), oft-promised look at who got waived and who made an NBA roster. I'm breaking this up into three parts, and here's what they'll look like: for each team, there will be a list of who got cut and who got kept (and yes I know the grammar isn't great, but that's what I've decided to go with). To make it interesting, I'll look at one Eastern Conference team and one Western Conference team each day. I probably won't discuss every player, since at this point in his career Juan Dixon can do whatever as far as I'm concerned, but I'll try to hit most of the players who either previously spent time in the D-League or might be considering it as an option this season. I'm also operating under the assumption that the vast majority of guys that I talk about will be playing in Europe. The season's already started over there in a lot of places, but there's usually room for one more skilled American player. Nonetheless, I'll try to keep the D-League optimism up. Okay? Okay. So here we go. First up: the Southeast and Pacific Divisions, below the jump.
Who got kept: No one.
Sims and Siler are the main guys to know here, as Dixon, Wilks and West are all veterans at this point who will jump into the pool of emergency guards for less thoughtful teams to sign in case, I dunno, Eric Gordon gets hurt or something. Sims has admirers around the team, and he's showed off his scoring in the preseason, but the rebounding that was so good in the D-League last year has been largely absent thus far. That kind of game (among other reasons) makes me think he's bound for overseas despite the fact that he intrigues front offices. If they really cared, he'd have a contract by now. Siler, on the other hand, is just coming onto the scene and has nice touch and solid rebounding ability. He's just, let's call it "large." If I had to guess I'd say he's a more likely candidate for the D-League, where getting "large" guys into shape seems to be the stock in trade. He's already pretty effective as it is, and he doesn't seem have the foul problems that plague other "large" gentlemen like Mike Sweetney or Kentrell Gransberry, so if he can shed the weight then he might start garnering more serious interest.
Who got kept: Stephen Graham
I was actually kind of shocked at this one. Jefferson is a great man defender (and an all-aaround good guy) who the Bobcats seemed to like (they called him up last year), plus one of their better (if not their best) perimeter defenders with a guaranteed contract just got hurt. So why wouldn't they keep him? Stephen Graham is fine as a player, and he's a D-League success story of sorts so I shouldn't knock him too hard, but while he's a better rebounder than Jefferson, he's not as good of a defender. Hopefully Jefferson comes to the D-League and gets called up quickly, but either of those happening is unlikely, let alone both of them.
Who got kept: No one
Simpson is raw. Really, really, really raw. But intriguing (at least to me). I thought so when he was on Washington's Summer League team, but he got cut before they played any games and I don't think he played any in the preseason for Golden State, either. It would behoove him to go to the D-League, but who knows if that will happen. He's a Dominic McGuire-type, if McGuire is good enough to have his own type, but it boils down to this: a lot of hustle, the tools to be a very good defender, a very good rebounder, undersized as a PF but no offensive game to make up for it. Who doesn't like that kind of player? Anyway, he'll need to learn some offense somewhere, so why not the D-League? ASSUMING he enters the draft, I could see Rio Grande Valley drafting him and developing him for the Rockets, who are enamored with 6'7" power forwards who rebound really, really well. But what I think should happen and what does happen are usually two different things. Example: Fernwood 2Nite is still not on DVD.
Who got kept: Kareem Rush
Sorry Mike Wilks, Juan Dixon and Mario West, your fellow Brotherhood of Mediocre Shooting Guards member Kareem Rush got this. Roberson is likely headed back to Europe, with all the rest of the good three-point shooters. So is Gray. Jerel McNeal could stick around this neck of the woods, because he's a.) younger and b.) still could use some work on his offensive game. His DraftExpress "best case" is supposedly Shannon Brown, so there's some D-League-to-NBA precedent for a guy like McNeal, and he's solid enough all-around that if he continues to cut down on his turnovers he could draw some real interest.
Who got kept: No one
Somewhat off-topic, but at this point I'm wondering what the point of the Lakers having their own D-League affiliate is. I know I'm not supposed to say that, but...who was the last player they developed in-house? Jordan Farmar, I guess? Does Josh Powell count since he never plays? I know that they're in "win-now" mode as long as Kobe Bryant is on the team, but heck, trading for Adam Morrison? They could've found someone else, put him on the D-Fenders for two years, and still eventually have gotten more out of him than Morrison will end up giving them. And no, this isn't about cutting Sun Yue. Okay, maybe it's partially about cutting Sun Yue. But that was the plan with Mickael Gelabale, I assume, who has a lot of talent and a knack for scoring. But he couldn't earn a deal and DJ Mbenga could? Mbenga is good for something, right? I mean, he is, right? I could've sworn he did something well at some point. David Monds played very well for the Lakers' Summer League team, so that likely got him some attention even if his preseason didn't. I'm willing to bet that he comes back to the D-League, just not heavily.
Sigh. Siiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiigh. Not that Arroyo is still around, I guess, since he's not the worst option out there and can run the pick and roll adequately, but Lucas really can play, size notwithstanding. I'm pretty sure Lucas has had some problems with not being paid by his European employers in the past, so it could be that he's soured on the enterprise, and if he comes back to the D-League he'll join the Maine Red Claws, but my best guess is that he'll try going overseas again and hope to get his check on time. Aminu may try his hand at the D-League, since his younger (and more talented) brother is still in college. Aminu played some decent defense for Washington's Summer League team, and he's pretty athletic along with being a decent ball-handler for a 6'10" guy. He needs to work on not turning the ball over and acquiring some post moves, and the D-League is as good a place as any to do that.
Who got cut: Morris Almond
Who got kept: Linton Johnson
I'm a little surprised that Johnson is still around, although Adonal Foyle got hurt so there's room for another frontcourt player. Sort of. I mean with Brandon Bass, Ryan Anderson, Rashard Lewis, Mickael Pietrus, Vince Carter and Matt Barnes around I'm not really sure how much playing time Johnson will get, even in practice. Some of those guys can play guard, true, but this team is apparently committed to the Jason Williams Reclamation Project and not, you know, keeping a guard who can actually help the team out. It's a good question where Almond goes from here, as he's "done with the D-League." Maybe he joins Dixon, et al. or maybe he just cuts his losses and heads yonder, but either way I can't shake the feeling that he never really got a fair look this offseason.
Who got kept: No one.
Well, at least our long national Dan Dickau nightmare is over. Powell played very well in the preseason, and the team spoke well of him which should help combat some old on-court character issues. He's a strong call-up candidate this season should he go to the D-League, and he's been working hard to get to the NBA so he may go that route. I've already linked to it once, but for more on Powell's play I recommend this Bright Side of the Sun post.
Who got kept: No one.
I would bet that Smith returns to the D-League. He's not that far removed from breaking his foot in college, and he was a backup in Idaho last year, so he still has a lot to show. He can play, though, and it shouldn't be too surprising if he becomes a top point guard in the D-League this year. That's assuming he goes there, however, and not overseas. He played for the "NBA Generations" team that played in Korea and the Philippines, so he's gotten some international exposure, and non-US teams could come calling.
Who got cut: Vincent Grier
Who got kept: Paul Davis
Grier never really played, so this isn't a shock. He's a pretty good combo guard and scorer, but the Wizards have a ton of shooting guards on the team so this was always going to be a longshot. Paul Davis is sticking around because Antawn Jamison will be out for at least a month, and the team was already thin up front. As in, Fabricio Oberto who was signed to be the end-of-bench veteran presence, is now the starting power forward. Davis is now the fifth big, and he's defied my expectations by playing pretty well this preseason, averaging about 18 points and nine rebounds per 36 minutes while staying out of foul trouble. He shot 5-10 from the floor, and I have no idea where those shots came from exactly, but one reason I was skeptical is that last season his eFG percentages were .333 on "close" shots and .344 on jump shots (as determined by 82games.com), which are pretty bad. As long as the Wizards don't expect much from Davis on the offensive end other than dunks and tip-ins, they should be fine.