A few relatively big moves happened (in our world, at least), but before I get to those, I realized that I never discussed the D-League trades from a few weekends ago at any length, so here we go:
At least as it stands now, before any games have been played, this looks like a pretty good trade for both sides. Fort Wayne returns Chris Hunter and Sean Sonderleiter in the middle, so as talented as Aminu is the team was already set at center. Sure, Aminu most likely would've been an upgrade over Sonderleiter, Hunter gets the bulk of the minutes there anyway, and since he's a very good D-League center the Mad Ants were able to flip their pick to address other issues. The team also has several other forwards back from last year, but they're mostly defense or rebounding specialists. Rob Kurz should allow the team to stretch the defense a little more, to use that cliche, and because I assume he's going to start, it will be interesting to see if his presence at power forward pushes Anthony Kent to the bench, or whether Kent moves over to the 3 and Ron Howard, last year's starting small forward but 6'5", heads to the backcourt. If the latter is the case, then Kurz's shooting skill will be even more of a necessity as Howard's not much of a shooter (or scorer generally, come to think of it). Fort Wayne also had been angling to get Kurz as a local allocation player because of his time at Notre Dame, so the team is hoping that bringing him in (along with other Notre Dame players) will help them at the gate as well as on the court.
For the Bayhawks, Alade Aminu seemed to be one of the most sought-after players in the draft, at least among teams looking for raw talent. Aminu didn't play a whole lot for Washington's Summer League team, though his defense was alright when he did, and the Miami Heat gave him a look during the preseason. Aminu was a bit turnover-prone in college and needs to develop some post moves (along with some strength), but he's very athletic and handles the ball fairly well for a 6'10" guy. Erie needed a center to replace the departed Erik Daniels, and as I wrote around the draft, bringing in actual centers like Aminu, John Bryant and Jeff Skemp is a step in the right direction. Erie already had some guys sort of like Kurz (Ivan Harris is a three-point shooting forward, Jarvis Gunter is an okay rebounder but doesn't do much else), so they didn't need to duplicate efforts there.
I've given some brief comments on this one, but to recap, I like this trade for both Idaho and Iowa, but I'm a little baffled by what LA is doing. To elaborate, let's start with Idaho. Last year Bob MacKinnon's Colorado team liked to run, and they led the league in pace. Sure they had Joe Dabbert and Kentrell Gransberry in the middle, but each of those players' proclivity for fouling meant that Josh Davis saw a fair amount of time at center. Anthony Tolliver isn't the same player Davis is, specifically in the area of three-point shooting (Tolliver is okay but not great there), but he's a good passer, a pretty good rebounder and post defender, and he can score a little bit (in the D-League, anyway). Tolliver should be a solid anchor for the Stampede, at least for as long as he's around (he has a history of leaving the D-League either to play in Europe or the NBA).
Iowa-wise, Earl Barron is a solid center with some shot-blocking talent and NBA experience (specifically with Miami). Barron upped his per-36 minute scoring averages and lowered his foul rates every year that he played for the Heat, so he's been improving. He's 28 years old now, though, so this may be his last go-round in the D-League. The Energy drafted a lot of scorers and wing players, and while Tolliver is a good player (see above) he likely would've taken up a lot of possessions that can now be distributed a little more equally.
As for the D-Fenders, it's not that Dar Tucker isn't talented, it's just that his shot selection is shaky. He made less than 30 percent of his three-pointers last year at DePaul, which wouldn't be great even if he hadn't averaged more than six three-point attempts per game. He shot just 39 percent overall, so it's not like he was great inside the arc either. He also averaged more turnovers than assists and can't really go left. Tucker is athletic, does a decent job of getting to the rim and is a decent rebounder, but his offensive game has a lot of negatives. Plus there's the fact that he's a shooting guard, and that LA already has Joe Crawford and Charlie Parker, who are nominally point guards but are more scorers than distributor, Ryan Forehan-Kelly, who's a swingman who can do a lot of things but who also probably got accustomed to having the ball last year, Deron Washington, who's another (more efficient) slasher, and Jeremy Wise, a shooting guard. As for big men, let's see...how does Longar Longar strike you? It's entirely possible that Barron asked for this trade, but as it stands now the D-Fenders have a glut of shooting guards and/or backcourt scoring without a ton of guys who can rebound or defend the post. This team could be really fun to watch, or it could be a horrible mess.
Rio Grande Valley Vipers traded Marcus Hubbard to the Reno Bighorns; Reno Bighorns traded Haminn Quaintance to the Rio Grande Valley Vipers
Here's the thing about Marcus Hubbard - I make snide comments about his game, but he's a decent player. At least he could be. He certainly has his moments. He's athletic, he can rebound a little bit, he stays out of foul trouble. But, somewhere in his career (it may have been at the beginning, who knows) he started viewing himself as a mid-range/perimeter player, and he's not very good at it. He likes shooting threes, and he's about as good at it as Dar Tucker is. Now that the Rockets are running the show, he really didn't fit what they look for in a big man, so it wasn't a surprise to see him go.
Quaintance, on the other hand, does seem like a Houston-type guy. I don't know much about him, and called him a "three-point shooter" around the draft based on last year's EuroChallenge, but he's actually a power forward who was an excellent defender in college (he was MAC defensive player of the year as a senior) and gets steals blocks as well as blocks, plus he can score a little bit and passes pretty well for his position. Oh, and he's athletic. He profiles very well, so I'm curious as to why Reno gave him up. He likely wouldn't have gotten a ton of minutes behind Boom Tho Rod Benson and non-boom tho Cezary Trybanski, but he could've slid into the lineup in the event of a Benson call-up just as well as Hubbard can.
Moving on to this week's, uh, moves, after the jump...
Well, White said he wasn't coming back to the D-League, so this is just a guy keeping his promise. Spartak just signed Goran Suton last week, so they have a pretty solid (American) inside-outside combo now. The question becomes whether White will come back next year for Summer League and/or the preseason, or whether he's fed up with the entire enterprise. He may cool off after a year, but if the NBA isn't going to seriously invest in him he may not see the point. Dupree goes to Telekom Baskets, also the current team of former RGV point guard Jared Jordan. He's in a similar position to White (but without the relatively-modest NBA success) in that he's ready to move on with his career. As he said in that interview I linked to yesterday, there comes a point in every player's career (the D-League/marginal NBA players anyway) where he has to seriously consider playing in Europe, essentially for the money. This was a tougher year than most for a lot of these players, but if someone has plans, or has plans to have plans, to settle into some kind of routine, live comfortably, start a family, whatever, as it stands right now the D-League/Summer League/training camp circuit just doesn't provide that.
My interest in this move (other than as a Wizards fan) is to see what Davis will do. He could make a pretty good salary in Europe, and do pretty well on the court leading to future pretty good salaries, but one doesn't go on the "Millionaire Matchmaker" show and talk about how you're looking for someone to settle down with your millions of dollars if you're then planning on leaving the country. Of course, that was a while ago, and he probably wasn't planning on barely making a roster on a nonguaranteed deal, and playing in the D-League definitely isn't what people on "Millionaire Matchmaker" have in mind (I'm guessing), but I could see Davis sticking around here for a few months and using his Clippers years as a way to get another shot.
I don't have much to say about Douby being waived, as from my read on the situation his position on the team was already somewhat tenuous even before the team drafted DeMar DeRozan (and, hopefully, traded for Sonny Weems). He could do extremely well in Europe, obviously, but he has enough of a name that another NBA team is likely to take a shot on him at some point (hi Memphis!).
Gill, though, is sort of a big deal because he represents yet another talented, high-profile player (D-League-wise) who the Springfield Armor took in the expansion draft and who won't actually be suiting up for that team. Gill may or may not have been looking to head overseas for awhile, but his leaving right before training camp would seem to put the team in a tight spot. They may not have been counting on him being there, but they didn't really bring in any strong point guards through allocation or the draft, so one would assume that they were. Oh well. This leaves JamesOn Curry as the team's starting point guard, I'm guessing, even though Curry's not much of a distributor.
Goodbye, Pops. You were enjoyed. I have no idea if Mensah-Bonsu will return to the D-League, as he's in a similar position to Paul Davis (but without the whole "appearing on TV" thing), and also Earl Barron. Mensah-Bonsu is younger than I thought, but 26 years old is starting to approach the "maybe I should just go to Europe" age. His national team coach Chris Finch is in the D-League now, and with the Rockets' affiliate no less, so he could wait around until they're at the top of the list and join the D-League player pool, at which point he'll do so well (he was a monster for the Toros last year) that the NBA can't keep ignoring him (again).
I also thought Dorsey was older than he is, or at least had been in the NBA long enough not to be eligible for the D-League, but that probably speaks to the fact that I need to brush up on this stuff. Even without Mensah-Bonsu in the picture, frontcourt minutes are scarce in Houston at the moment. Dorsey posted some decent numbers in RGV last year, around 10 points and nine rebounds per game (11 and 11 per-36), but his free-throw shooting was so awful it actually dragged his True Shooting percentage down a fair amount. Dorsey played well in Summer League this year, and I expect him to do very well for the Vipers. Assuming, that is, that he and Kurt Looby find a way to both play in the middle. They'll probably both start, but Vipers fans should probably get used to seeing those guys fighting each other for rebounds.