I'm back! Coming to you live from the confines of my couch/bed, fresh off of the shutting down of FanHouse and a week-long bout with bronchitis while listening to the musical stylings of David Lee Murphy's Dust On The Bottle. Did you miss me?
Yesterday, Earl Barron announced on Twitter that he was signing a 10-day contract with the Milwaukee Bucks. Awesome for the big fella and well-deserved for a guy that hasn't been able to find a permanent home in the NBA despite solid enough performances in abbreviated stints with both the New York Knicks and Phoenix Suns since starring with the Iowa Energy during the 2009-10 season.
Still, after seeing the news, I was inclined to tweet "So Earl Barron's successfully proven that players that sit at home will get jobs, regardless of dudes trying to get better daily in the D-L."
This isn't spiteful, mean-spirited or anything else from me; It's an observation simply suggesting that some players might be better off hiring a good agent and sitting at home waiting for a phone call rather than playing season after season in the D-League hoping for the ever-elusive call-up.
As my best friend in Europe, Mark Deeks, pointed out on Twitter, "Is the D-League really the place for 29 year olds into their sixth NBA season?" Maybe not, Mr. Deeks. Maybe not. Probably not.
For starters, Barron's game isn't exactly meant for the D-League as I so beautifully illustrated with this post last season. He's a good complementary player that is able to play a role rather well, not a go-to scoring option that's going to do the things he would need to do to standout among the go-to bigs in the Development League.
That said (written?), for Barron to play in the D-League again this season, he would've had to play alongside (or behind) D-League All-Star MVP Courtney Sims; he'd be bound by the D-League's overly-expensive buyout system had an overseas team been interested; and, after averaging 16.2 points and 10.2 rebounds last season, he would've been held to some incredibly high standards that probably wouldn't have been easily upheld considering the amount of talent around him on the Energy (Sims, Othyus Jeffers, Curtis Stinson, Marqus Blakely, Kyle Weaver, Chris Lofton, Stanley Robinson, James Johnson, Gani Lawal, et cetera).
Thinking about this, it made me wonder if the D-League is actually serving its purpose.
"But Scott, you're the D-League's most ardent supporter!" is what you're probably exclaiming.
I know, guys, but the fact that it was easier for Barron to get back to the NBA by not playing in the D-League makes me worry.
Look at big men like Sims, Sean Williams, Patrick O'Bryant and the other bigs with NBAish resumes currently plying their trades and standing out in the D-League without so much as a sniff of an NBA call-up this season. As far as I'm concerned, they're not actually developing -- they are what they are, at this point -- and instead they're just kind of spinning their wheels, waiting for an injury to occur in the NBA. Except, when that injury occurs, its players sitting in the comfort of their own home -- Barron, Jarron Collins, Ike Diogu, Brian Skinner -- and not the players that are playing in the D-League getting those open roster spots.
Apart from longer, if less exciting, NBA careers and names more recognizable -- even if for the wrong reasons -- to the casual NBA fans (we in the biz call this 'experience'), it doesn't really make sense why guys sitting at home are getting multiple looks while players traveling from Bismarck, N.D., to Minneapolis, Minn., to Detroit, Mich., to Portland, Maine and then bussing to Springfield, Mass., the next night while busting their balls for an NBA contract playing night after night in the D-League.
Players in the D-League are, presumably, in game shape; hungry to prove they have what it takes; and more motivated than the guys that know they'll just return to their couches if it doesn't work out rather than a bus on the way to Sioux Falls, S.D.
To me, I guess, all of this is a roundabout way of me deciding that maybe the D-League isn't working. Whether that's because of a perceived lack of talent makes NBA decision makers believe statistics are too inflated to take seriously or something totally above my simple thought process, it seems that many of the players that already are who they're going to be (if that makes any sense) are better off sitting at home rather than playing in the D-League.
I'm open to any other view points on this topic, but to me, it seems that there needs to be some sort of retooling of the D-League before more players opt to go the Earl Barron route instead of the Courtney Sims route. And, of course, this is all assuming that there will be an NBA season next year.