Michael Sweetney Continuing His Comeback in the NBA ... D-League

The person that made the above video deserves a gold medal or something. Not lying.

Last I'd heard about Michael Sweetney, ShamSports reported that he signed in China after failing to earn a roster spot with the Boston Celtics this preseason (I'm fairly certain that the above video shows everything Sweetney did with Boston, so you can be the judge if that was deserved or not).  I assumed this would be the last anyone in America would ever hear from the ninth overall pick in the 2003 NBA Draft. 

I was wrong.

Sources close to the situation have told Ridiculous Upside that Sweetney will join the NBA Development League and is expected to clear waivers at noon today.

The D-League's player acquisition system works a lot like your fantasy leagues since players sign contracts with the league itself and not individual teams: player signs contract, player sits on waivers for two days and then either goes to the team with the highest waiver priority that put a claim on him or sits in the D-League player until a team decides to add said player to its roster.  In the case of Sweetney, I'm going to assume that he'll be claimed.

Who, then, has the top waiver priority?  The Boston Celtics D-League affiliate Maine Red Claws, oddly enough.

While I've tried to figure out if the Red Claws have put a claim in on Sweetney since learning of his entering the D-League, I haven't been able to confirm anything.  Thus, I'll simply say that it seems awfully likely that Sweetney resumes his playing career in Portland (Maine) considering how much Doc Rivers fawned over him and the fact that Maine has the first crack at picking him up.

Here's the problem I have with Sweetney joining the D-League - None.  Sweetney is an NBA talent according to almost anybody that's watched him play (even looking at him in the highlights, he's still able to effectively score), but it comes with a caveat: if he's in shape.

After not playing basketball from the end of the 2007 NBA season until the Celtics somehow found him and put him on their Summer League squad, it's understandable that Sweetney's not in the best shape, though still a bit disappointing.  He was apparently working out with Mick Smith, former trainer for the Orlando Magic, but it's hard to be in basketball shape without actually playing basketball for two years (and nearly three years if you discount the few Summer League/preseason games he played with Boston).

The biggest benefit with joining the D-League for Sweetney is the opportunity to get into basketball shape while staying mostly outside of the limelight.  He'll also be able to focus solely on playing basketball without the media pressure that comes with being a former lottery pick - unless a Thabeet-like media storm happens again.

I assume it will also be easier to deal with the stigma of  essentially eating himself out of the NBA, something his predecessors (Oliver Miller, Thomas Hamilton, Stanley Roberts, Robert Traylor and John Williams) all struggled to deal with.

As a bonus, if Sweetney's claimed by the Red Claws, the Celtics will have easy access to keep tabs on the big man.  Aside from being the D-League affiliate, Maine employs Danny Ainge's son, Austin Ainge, as head coach as well as former Celtics assistant coach Jon Jennings as general manager. 

Considering the Celtics seem to be the NBA team with the most (only?) interest in the big man, this can only help his cause as long as he works hard both on the court and to get into shape.

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