Last week after Malcolm Thomas made the sudden leap from the D-League to the NBA with the Golden State Warriors after playing one whole game with the LA D-Fenders, the Los Angeles Lakers D-League affiliate wasted little time in filling the void with another overseas transplant.
But instead of searching for former Israeli League (Thomas began the season with Maccabi Tel Aviv) players, the D-Fenders searched the waiver wire coming out of Italy and found a free agent big man with prior NBA and D-League experience that should help solidify their front line and remain on the scene more than for a 13 point and 17 rebound outing like Thomas.
Craig Brackins is no stranger to moving around the league, regardless if it is the NBA or the D-League, or even overseas for that matter.
In fact, the 6-foot 10, 230 pound power forward's basketball resume reads more like an entry from Trip Advisor.com with so many different stops along his novice basketball journey: Philadelphia (drafted 21st overall in 2010, acquired by Oklahoma City Thunder -- appeared in 17 games with the Sixers), Springfield (5 games with the Armor), Maine (7 games), jumping overseas to Israel during the NBA lockout (4 games with Maccabi Ashdod B.C.), and then cruising over to Italy this season (10 games for Angelico Biella) before being waived back in December.
Did we forget the summer league stints in Orlando and Las Vegas with the Boston Celtics?
Translation: Brackins has size and will travel.
Probably the greatest asset Brackins' carries around with him these days -- aside from his ability to supply toughness and scoring down in the post -- is the experience gained since coming out of Iowa State three years ago. Take his time in Philadelphia for example. He didn't get a tone of run in those 17 games, averaging just 1.8 points, 1.1 rebounds in 7.1 minutes per game. Yet Brackins gained much respect, especially from head coach Doug Collins, by approaching Collins and requesting to head down to Springfield to get some floor time and get better.
"He actually asked for that; I respected that a lot," Sixers coach Doug Collins said back in 2010.
"He just said, ‘You know, I've made a position change and we're winning and there's really no place for me to play, and I'd like to go down and play.' I was proud of Craig. He wants to play and he wants to be in this league and there just weren't any minutes there for him this year."
After bouncing between Springfield, Maine and Philly for two seasons, Brackins capitalized on expanding his credentials and game to the international level signing in Israel during the NBA lockout and while he was only overseas briefly (4 games, where he averaged 13. 8 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game) Brackins did make an impact on the floor. And at that stage in his very young career, that's exactly what Brackins needed at that time -- to play consistent minutes and show there was more to his game than shuttling between the NBA and D-League.
Italy was a bittersweet experience for Brackins when he signed with the club last August.
He was voted to the Italian Serie-A All-Star Game and averaged 12.8 points and 5.4 rebounds per game, while shooting 63% from the field in 10 games this season for Angelico Biella. But there was some uncertainly hovering around his departure that still remains on clear depending on which reports you read coming out of Italy since December. That's when Brackins was waived by the club.
According to Court-Side.com, "the announcement was made at a press conference on Friday with the reason given that the club can't wait for an injury he suffered to his hand."
Other reports suggest the organization was not pleased with Brackins' production.
Somewhere along the lines there is a chance financial reasons were involved in the decision process. Some clubs in Europe prefer not to continue paying up for costly American-import players if that amount doesn't translate to wins. And considering Angelico Biella was heading for their current 5-17 record and occupying last place in the league, you can draw your own conclusion.
Regardless of the reason (or reasons) for Brackins and Angelico cutting ties, the D-Fenders are simply in the right place at the right time bringing in this new addition. Brackins supplies solid numbers from his combined D-League stops and is averaging 19.7 points, 8.8 rebounds and 2.2 assists in 25 career games between Springfield and Maine and now looks to build upon such positives.
The D-League has been very good for Craig Brackins and that could be the case this time around too in Los Angeles.