One consequence of the super-teams is that you’re always going to be shopping for second-rate players to “fill in the blanks” as Donnie Walsh put it on his conference call when he stepped down. You’re simply never going to have a great amount of options because of how tight your cap is. That can only get worse with the way the CBA negotiations are going.
The Knicks held a free agent summit just to try and get a feel for the landscape in terms of who they’re looking at. And the name at the top of the list afterwards? Bonzi Wells.
Yeah. From the New York Post:
At their two-day free-agent tryout camp that ended yesterday, the player that by far impressed the most was 34-year-old veteran shooting guard Bonzi Wells, who has been out of the league since 2008.
The Knicks actually are considering inviting him to training camp — whenever that is, pending a new labor agreement. Whether they offer him a guaranteed pact is unclear.
via Knicks look Wells – NYPOST.com
Even if Wells blew their socks off, that can’t be an option, right? Two other options may not be as big of names, but they might be better players, or at least younger. Javaris Crittenton and Joe Alexander both attended and impressed, and they have more recent experience in the league. Alexander is one of those guys who always blows people away in workouts and summer league, then never gets a single minute on a team, a workout warrior. Crittenton comes with his own hugely wide collection of baggage, but does have a considerable amount of ability. He was a promising young player before the Arenas situation happened. He’s not great. He’s just not good. He’s just not Bonzi Wells.
And that’s where we stand before an ounce of Knicks’ payroll has to be cut.
The first round of D-League waiver claims are behind us, and three quasi-NBA talents will join a D-League season already underway. According to Scott Schroeder of NBA FanHouse, Joe Alexander, Stanley Robinson, and DeShawn Sims will all ply their trade in the D this season. Alexander will play for the Texas Legends, Robinson for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, and Sims for the Maine Red Claws.
Alexander, a lottery pick in 2008, likely has the highest profile of the three. He has a ways to go before becoming a real NBA contributor, but Alexander could very well be called up as an answer to some team’s injury misfortune or a project of sorts. He’s still a tremendous athlete, and if he can tone down his fouling, improve his shooting, and hold his own defensively, Alexander could conceivably become a passable NBA player. The D-League would optimally give Alexander a spot to work on his game, but I have a feeling that his time in Frisco will be relatively short-lived. It’s not all that surprising that the Bulls elected to cut Alexander lose rather than pay him a multi-million dollar annual salary, but he’s likely worth the minimum somewhere.
Robinson was the Orlando Magic’s second round pick in this summer’s draft, and now he’ll join the ground level of the Houston Rockets’ operation. As Schroeder noted in his report, the Rockets are among the more active call-up teams in the NBA, and if Robinson succeeds in the D-League, he’ll likely get a pat on the head and 10 days’ worth of NBA salary for his efforts.
Sims was a quality scorer and rebounder last season for Michigan, and followed up his collegiate career with a strong showing at the Orlando Summer League. After playing a few games in Greece for PAOK BC, Sims has decided to return to the States, where he’ll grab a smaller paycheck but enjoy a more immediately visible big-league audition. The international route is clearly fitting for those who need the coin, but the D-League has rapidly grown into the premier avenue for NBA hopefuls. Sims is certainly one such player, and he’ll go to work in the D with the hope of turning a few heads.
Guys under rookie contracts are gold in the NBA — they don’t cost much, and some contribute a lot. Guys on those contracts almost always get them picked up.
Joe Alexander was not picked up. After two injury plagued, low production seasons — one in Milwaukee, one in Chicago — he got to test the market.
The Hornets worked him out — they are on a quest to find some backup big me — and were impressed, so he got a partially guaranteed invite to camp, according to a tweet from Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo.
Alexander had raw athleticism out of West Virginia to go No. 8 overall in the draft (ahead of Brook Lopez, Robin Lopez, JaVale McGee and JJ Hickson among big men). Alexander was raw but had good athleticism, good work ethic and the kind of intangibles that made teams think he would figure it out.
But injuries — starting with a hamstring issue in his first camp — robbed him of a chance to prove any of that. He never got on track.
He’s going to have to compete for a roster spot with Craig Brackins, Aaron Gray, Darryl Watkins, Darius Songaila and Pops Mensah-Bonsu. We’ll see how he does against guys who have proved they belong.
Still, good risk. If he’s healthy, the Hornets may have a steal.