Four pretty good players are expected to make their way to the D-League in the coming days, three of whom have been here before. They're coming at the perfect time, when a string of call-ups has...well not necessarily diluted the talent in the D-League, but at least has thinned out a few rosters. Three of these guys have played in the NBA, while the other has gotten some run in the Summer League and preseason. Let's meet our contestants!
(Yes, I know that Welcome Back, Kotter wasn't a game show. Just pretend this is Battle of the Network Stars or something.) (And yes, I know that's not really a game show either, but to that I say, "Ayyyyyyyyyy, sit on it, Potsie.")
- Contestant Number 1 is point guard Andre Barrett! Mr. Barrett has spent parts of four seasons in the NBA as well as two in the D-League. Barrett has been a very good three-point shooter here in the D-League but hasn't been able to make it translate into success higher up. He's put up some pretty good assists numbers, though. Barrett will more than likely land with the Idaho Stampede, a team in desperate need of a point guard, which will allow Donell Taylor and Coby Karl to spend more time at their natural positions. I would expect to see some three-guard lineups with those players, as Bob MacKinnon used them fairly often in Colorado last season. With Barrett's (D-League) outside shooting success, this is a pretty good fit of player and team, and Barrett's previous NBA experience could put him on a few radars.
- Contestant Number 2 also is a point guard, let's hear it for Maureece Rice! After wondering aloud whether the Cavaliers might be interested in the former BayHawk, it appears that Erie is looking to bring him back into the fold after trading Taylor and seeing Cedric Jackson called up. Rice is still under contract with his Ukrainian team, but if the BayHawks can work out a release he'd be a big help. He's only been a point guard for a few years (he transitioned to that position as a senior in college), and last year's Erie team had a point-center (no, really) so he didn't have to do much distributing. What he can do, though, is score. His shot doesn't look great, but it goes in. A lot. As I said he's probably more of a combo guard, so Erie coach John Treloar could play him next to CLIFF CLINKSCALES at times. At this point, though, that team needs people who can put some points up; Rice is that guy.
- Contestant Number 3 is Paul Davis, a power forward/center who joins the D-League player pool after spending three seasons with the Clippers, about 10 games with the Washington Wizards (playing in two of them), and one episode on the Bravo show Millionaire Matchmaker. I don't know if there's a Five-Figure Matchmaker show in the works or what, but I don't think Davis has been playing anywhere since being cut by Washington. He's a pretty good rebounder, and while he didn't score much outside the paint with the Clippers he reportedly was able to go out to the midrange a little bit this season. Even so, if all a team gets is another Dwayne Jones, that's a solid pick-up. I believe that Rio Grande Valley is next up (after Idaho) in the player pool, and with Joey Dorsey in Houston, they could use some additional help in the middle. With Idaho's recent front court issues, Davis is theirs to lose.
- Our final contestant is D.J. Strawberry. Strawberry played in five games for the Albuquerque Thunderbirds and 33 for the Phoenix Suns a few seasons ago, but has dealt with injury problems for most of his pro career. A combo guard known mostly (if not solely) for his defense, Strawberry has improved a bit at handling the ball and running an offense over the last few years, and while he isn't known as much of a shooter he did pretty well in the D-League in that regard. If he can use the D-League to keep improving his offensive game, he might become an attractive NBA bench option once again.
As far as who is going to get them, we're told the top teams in the waiver wire order goes Idaho, RGV, Iowa, Reno, Bakersfield and last, but not least, the Thunderbirds. I would assume these guys don't fall further than this.