Pops Mensah-Bonsu has the physical gifts, work ethic, and focus to be an effective NBA role player, but for some reason he’s never been able to find a place to hang his hat in the States. After the Mavericks unveiled Mensah-Bonsu in 2006, they had to cut him in the following season due to a roster crunch, and since, Pops has never had anything resembling an NBA home. He’s made a few stops — in San Antonio, in Toronto, in Houston — but despite playing well in this city or that one, the impermanence of each has been obvious.
Now, Mensah-Bonsu will go overseas again to find work. According to Scott Schroeder of Ridiculous Upside, Pops will be playing professionally in Spain next season, even if his home should be in the United States. There’s clearly something in Mensah-Bonsu’s game that turns off NBA coaches and GMs (I’d wager it’s his disappointing field goal percentage), but he’s been a productive player in the minutes he’s been given. Most of those minutes have come in garbage time, mind you, but without a better NBA sample to draw from, that’s all we have for quantitative evaluation.
Mensah-Bonsu is an NBA player, even if his paycheck this season doesn’t show it, and those with power in the NBA don’t quite know it. At 26, it’s not like Pops is running out of time. He’ll have plenty of chances to impress scouts over the next few years. However, for a player reliant on standout athleticism (as Mensah-Bonsu is), it’s typical that as the months and years fly by, the chance to secure a legitimate NBA spot dwindles.