There's a huge project I've been working on behind the scenes regarding what happened during the first few weeks of the 1998-99 season following the last significant NBA lockout. It will stay on the back-burner until David Stern cancels our Christmas, too, but Springfield Armor head coach Bob MacKinnon summed up my reasoning for the research during an interview last week
"I think this is a great year to be in the D-League," MacKinnon told the Springfield Republican. "With the lockout, once things get settled and solved, I think the NBA is going to need players and they're going to want guys who are in shape and ready to go. It's going to be easy for them to look to the D-League and I think the D-League is going to be a great source."
As I reported a few weeks ago, 39 of the players invited to NBA training camps during the lockout-shortened season were playing in either the Continental Basketball Association or the International Basketball Association -- the two primary minor leagues at the time. Another 44 had played at least a portion of the season abroad prior to going to training camp, according to my research, though the new out-clauses and such will probably lower that considerably this time around -- adding to the number of NBA Development League players heading to training camp.
Of course I would prefer that none of this actually happens and the NBA season is saved by Tuesday, but my optimism has slowly dwindled as the news seems to get worse and worse after each passing deadline. If nothing else, though, the above notes represent a bright spot after I wrote about the downside of the NBA lockout and the D-League last week.
Moving on from that, here's a quick look at what has gone on since Rick Majerus apparently had a temper tantrum when the Cleveland Cavaliers' D-League team hired his assistant as their head coach.
Mike Gansey still holds his spot at the bottom of this very blog as "Best Ever D-League Blogger." According to a story ran in the Erie Times-News this weekend, I might be able to convince the sharp-shooter to reprise his role this season as he's deciding on either returning to the Erie BayHawks or taking his talents to Europe for a second straight season.
Even if that part of the story isn't interesting to you, dear reader, I encourage clicking through to see Gansey's thinking pose. Let's just say that Gansey's former coach during his time with the Idaho Stampede, Randy Livingston, has more of a future as a model if that's the route they choose to pursue.
The Dakota Wizards held their local tryouts in Hayward, Calif., this weekend under the watchful eye of new head coach Nate Bjorkgren. According to CSN's Matt Steinmetz, about 50 guys showed. As one participant noted in Steinmetz's column, though, trying out for the D-League is a whole 'nother ballgame -- it's like pick-up basketball, except if you're good, you earn a chance at making it to the next level in your career rather than the winner's court at the Bismarck YMCA.
"It's a little challenging to be honest," Shiller said. "Having played in college and then coming out to something like this is hard. In college, it's a team unit. Everyone is on the same page, it's really five guys on a string, you know exactly what they're going to do. Here, it's just a free for all. I'm trying to talk on defense, trying to get involved and make the right play."
This could be good advice for me if Coach Bjorkgren gives me a chance to workout for the Wizards when they host their tryouts in Bismarck, N.D., next weekend.
The Canton Charge also held a round of tryouts this weekend, with about 80 participants looking for a spot on the expansion D-League team, according to the Canton Repository. They also got a quick bit of information from one of those involved on how to stand out at the typically hectic events.
"It can be tough," Former University of Akron point guard Steve McNees told the Repository. "You try to be yourself and stay within your limits, but also showcase what you can bring. "Often, the little things stand out. Everybody wants to hit the pull-up 3. But who wants to get back on D or help on another guy's man?"
The biggest name to attend the Canton tryouts -- a full list is provided at the above link -- is former Pittsburgh big Tyrell Biggs. Biggs has played in Greece, Cyprus and Israel since playing on the Chicago Bulls' Summer League squad as a rookie in 2009.
Last, but not least, let's have our weekly check in with the Mad Ant, the mascot of the Fort Wayne Mad Ants. I nearly didn't post this since Sebastian Pruiti wasn't involved, but to tell you the truth, I'm a bit aftaid of that thing after their video last week.