Winderman: Still time to add good player (or Eddy Curry) to playoff roster


Yes, there still is time.

With all of its deadlines, be it the mid-February trading deadline or the March 1 buyout deadline, the NBA is surprisingly lax when it comes to its playoff-roster deadline.

Spend at least one game on the roster prior to the postseason and you’re playoff eligible, provided you were not on another team’s roster beyond Match 1.

The most famous better-late-than-never example is center Charles Jones, who signed with the Houston Rockets on April 22, 1995, played in the regular-season finale against the Utah Jazz, and went on to win a championship ring that year.

Actually, there are a variety of reasons for adding players this late. For some teams, it is a chance to work with prospects through the postseason, sort of utilizing the extra weeks as the equivalent of spring football, if you will.

The Celtics took that approach last April, when they added Oliver Lafayette and Tony Gaffney, providing extra bodies to a veteran roster during a long playoff run. Each was signed for the balance of 2009-10, plus for an option year.

With a lockout looming, it could be an approach teams with vacant roster spots take in coming weeks, even if they are not playoff bound. The upside is having players immediately available should there be an abrupt end to a lockout on the eve of the 2011-12 season.

The Bulls got a jump on the process over the weekend by adding Jannero Pargo and John Lucas III.

Will others follow?

There certainly are enough names out there, although players with European contracts cannot summarily be summoned back stateside.

So who’s out there for the picking?

More than a few familiar names, in this case with each carrying the bonus of being playoff eligible, as well:

Eddy Curry, Antonio Daniels, Rafer Alston, Mike James, Devean George, Darius Miles, Chris Richard, Anthony Johnson. Da’Sean Butler, Larry Hughes, Jamaal Tinsley, Jerry Stackhouse, Michael Finley, Ime Udoka, Ronald Dupree, Adam Morrison, Bobby Simmons, Joe Alexander, Antoine Walker, Mikki Moore, Sean Williams, Shavlik Randolph, Morris Peterson, and Kelenna Azubuike.

No, we’re not even necessarily talking the level of D-League All-Star (players in the D-League on NBA loan are not available), but there are other Jannero Pargos and John Lucases out there for the claiming.

And in the NBA, it’s never too late.

Ira Winderman writes regularly for and covers the Heat and the NBA for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. You can follow him on Twitter at

Kevin Love unsure about opening-night return

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He’s back in practice with the Cavaliers, but there’s still no clarity on whether Kevin Love will be available for the season opener. Love had shoulder surgery in April after suffering a torn labrum in Game 4 of the Cavs’ first-round series against the Celtics, and doctors initially gave him a timetable of four to six months for a return. The six-month end of that is right around opening night (October 27), but Love still doesn’t know whether he’ll be able to play against the Bulls—although he is hopeful.

Via the Sporting News‘ Sean Deveney:

“I feel pretty good,” Love told Sporting News. “As far as the opener goes, I am not completely sure. I’ll probably get with the doctors and see what they have to say. I know that my six-month post-op is coming up here pretty fast. As far as getting the strength back, getting the range of motion, I feel pretty good, so I am looking forward to getting into some more contact, getting into a rhythm and getting out there as quickly as I can.”

Love has been cleared for 3-on-3 practices, but not yet for 5-on-5. If it were up to him, he’d be back on the court, but he understands he needs to follow the rehab protocol for his injury.

“(Six months is) just a ballpark figure that has generally been thrown out there by anybody who has talked about the rehab process for this kind of an injury,” Love said. “I like to think that I am ahead of the game, but there’s different tests and the due diligence that the doctor will go through and the training staff will go through. So all I can do is go out there every day and attack my rehab and hopefully I will be able to go out there and help these guys as soon as possible.”

At the very least, the Cavs will be without Kyrie Irving (still recovering from knee surgery) and Iman Shumpert (out up to three months with a wrist injury), and probably Tristan Thompson too, unless his contract situation changes unexpectedly. So having Love available would be some much-needed good news. But it’s more important that Love (and everyone else) is healthy for the playoffs. If he’s not ready to play, there’s no need to rush back for an October game.

Greg Smith fails physical, will not join Pelicans

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With both starter Omer Asik and backup Alexis Ajinca out injured for the rest of the preseason (and maybe a little longer), the Pelicans are looking for a center to put next to Anthony Davis for a stretch. That could include a handful of regular season games.

Greg Smith was going to be that man, but the 24-year-old failed his physical, reports the Times-Picayune.

The New Orleans Pelicans were set to sign power forward Greg Smith, but sources said Friday night that he failed his physical examination and will not be joining the team.

And so the search goes on.

The problem is, there are not quality big men still out there on the market, there is a limited supply and just about anyone worth having is spoken for. A few with non-guaranteed contracts may be waived as we get closer to the end of training camps, but that is likely a couple of weeks away.

With both Asik and Ajinca expected back in a few weeks, it’s not worth making a trade or some big move to bring in a center, the Pelicans are just going to have to live with what is out there.