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

Jimmy Butler wants Mason Plumlee to pay fine after scuffle (video)

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Jimmy Butler and Mason Plumlee got into an altercation in the Bulls’ win over the Trail Blazers last night.

Plumlee lowered his head and tried to barrel through Butler’s chest on a Butler screen. Butler fell and retaliated by putting Plumlee in a leg lock, causing Plumlee to fall.

You might remember a leg lock as what Cavaliers guard Matthew Dellavedova did to Bulls forward Taj Gibson during last year’s playoffs. For all the talk then of Dellavedova being a dirty player, Butler seems particularly aggrieved after getting a technical foul, which comes with a $2,500 fine – the same penalty Dellavedova eventually received. (Plumlee got a flagrant foul.)

Butler, via Vincent Goodwill of CSN Chicago:

“He thought he was playing football for a second there,” Butler said. “Almost had to let the Fort Greene Projects out of me, Brooklyn, you know what I’m saying?”

It was said tongue in cheek considering Gibson was a few feet over and Butler wanted to draw some laughs. Gibson is a Brooklyn native and grew up in the Fort Greene Projects while Butler grew up in Tomball, Texas.

It was no laughing matter when he said he would find a way to approach Plumlee about the fine money, jokingly suggesting he would have his agent email him at “Mr. or something” and made a joke about Mike Dunleavy applauding Plumlee’s act.

Plumlee and Dunleavy are products of Duke University.

“Yeah, he cost me 2,500,” Butler said. “I’m not happy about that. Gonna ask him to pay me back and I’m not playing.”

Is that, or Or is it Dookie?

These are important questions – at least if you’re trying to turn the conversation away from your dirty play and toward your colorful quotes.

Breaking news: Leandro Barbosa dunked


The Warriors became the first team in NBA history to start 16-0.

In the process of getting that record-breaking win over the Lakers, something nearly as historic happened.

Leandro Barbosa dunked.

The 32-year-old Golden State guard last jammed in January 2011.

For a little more perspective, look how Barbosa handled a breakaway layup earlier in the fourth quarter:

You think that man can still slam?

Yes. Yes, he can.

Magic benching Victor Oladipo, starting Channing Frye

Stephen Curry, Victor Oladipo, Channing Frye
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Elfrid Payton, Victor Oladipo, Evan Fournier, Tobias Harris and Nikola Vucevic have started eight of the Magic’s 14 games, including the last three.

But after Orlando dropped two straight, Scott Skiles hinted at lineup changes.

The Magic coach will deliver against the Knicks tonight, swapping Channing Frye for Oladipo.

Skiles, via Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel:

“It’s nothing punitive,” Skiles said after the Magic’s shootaround.

“It’s just we feel like we’ve got to try to find a little bit better balance. I’d like Victor to have some more opportunities like he’s had a little bit in the past where he can be on top of the floor and attack and get a little bit more vertical and not only get to the rim but just be a little bit more on the attack but not necessarily start the game that way.”

Here are the offensive/defensive/net ratings for the

  • Former starting lineup: 94.7/111.2/-16.5
  • New starting lineup: 117.2/90.3/+26.8

The new unit has played just 33 minutes in two games, so major sample-size caveats apply. But I like idea of seeing more of what has worked.

I suspect Skiles also wants to keep his players from becoming content. At 6-8 and coming off three straight seasons outside the playoffs, they should have no reason to feel satisfied, but the hard-driving Skiles will be proactive.

If Oladipo – whose defense Skiles values – can get sent to the bench, anyone can.

At some point, the Magic must determine whether Oladipo and Payton – both below-average 3-point shooters – can share a backcourt. But it’s also worth knowing whether Oladipo can excel as a super sub leading bench players.

This switch might help the Magic win now, but at worse, it’ll give them more information for evaluating their young roster. Seems smart all around.

Dwight Howard says he’s cleared to play back-to-backs

Dwight Howard
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The 5-9 Houston Rockets need some wins.

The Houston Rockets have a back-to-back coming up, Sunday against the Knicks then Monday against the Pistons (both on the road). Two teams with quality big men.

Combine those things and you end up with Dwight Howard being re-evaluated by team doctors and getting the training wheels taken off, via Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle.

This, plus a mini training camp the past few days, is part of new coach J.B. Bickerstaff’s effort to turn Houston’s season around.

Houston’s defense is 1.9 points per 100 possessions better this season when Howard is on the court and the Rockets are stronger on the glass. The problem is the offense is 7.8 points per 100 worse with Howard on the court. How much of that can be changed with some roster tweaks — like limiting the time James Harden and Ty Lawson share the court — and how much is due to Howard demanding touches and not doing enough with them we will find out quickly.