Hasheem Thabeet is back in the D-League.
It’s as good an option as the Rockets had. They acquired Thabeet — 7’3” former No. 2 overall pick out of Connecticut — in the Shane Battier trade but they were not playing him. He’s been on the court a total of 4 minutes since the trade.
But he was only going to get better with more burn, so he was send to the Rio Grand Valley Vipers. The Rockets have only one game in the next six days so he could stay there and gain some experience without missing lot of time with the big club. Not that it matters because he’s not playing anyway.
Thabeet made news when he was the highest draft pick ever sent to the D-League by the Memphis Grizzlies last season.
Unless the ghost of Pete Newell starts talking to Thabeet in a very Obi Wan Kenobi way I’m not sure a trip to the D-League is going to make a difference.
Jon Scheyer was never a surefire NBA player to begin with, a point made crystal clear when he went undrafted last summer. That said, Scheyer still seemed like an interesting prospect, even if he’s fairly limited in terms of athleticism. As a tall combo guard who can initiate offense and his outside shots consistently, Scheyer has definite offensive utility. The only question is if that utility can outweigh the other limitations in his game, particularly those on the defensive end.
The Miami Heat were interested enough to include Scheyer on their Vegas Summer League team, but only had a brief look; Scheyer sustained an injury to his right eye just two games into Miami’s Summer League schedule, and was forced to leave the team. Then the Los Angeles Clippers brought in Scheyer for training camp, but apparently saw no reason to offer him a contract.
After some time away from the NBA scene, Scheyer will try to earn a spot in the L through different means. According to a release from the team, Scheyer has been acquired by the Houston Rockets affiliated Rio Grande Valley Vipers. The Vipers — who have had Mustafa Shakur and Ish Smith run the point for them this season, among others — are in need of some guard depth, and Scheyer’s ability to play either guard position will no doubt help to supplement the RGV backcourt.
Ish Smith had enough draft red flags coming out of Wake Forest that he wasn’t selected at all in this past summer’s draft, but by now there should be no doubt that Smith is a legitimate NBA prospect. Smith may not have exploded onto the scene with his first chances at legitimate playing time, but he held his own, ran the offense to the best of his abilities, and showcased the kind of burst speed that could eventually make him a legitimate NBA weapon. He clearly isn’t a rotation caliber player yet, but Smith has shown plenty of promise this season. It’s quite the curiosity that Smith wasn’t deemed worthy of a second round pick.
Let’s not romanticize things, though; Smith is a decent prospect, but he’s not ready to play consistent minutes, particularly over the high-minute point guards already in place in Houston. Aaron Brooks and Kyle Lowry — both of whom have fought injuries throughout the season, which allowed Smith to play a bit in the first place — are likely to fill most of the PG minutes for the Rockets, and Courtney Lee provides Houston with a solid third option for a rainy day. That doesn’t leave much of an opportunity for Smith, whom the Rockets have assigned to their D-League affiliate, the Rio Grand Valley Vipers.
This will be Smith’s first tour in the D-League. He’ll certainly get more minutes with the Vipers than he would with the Rockets, but the point guard spot in RGV isn’t Smith’s alone. Mustafa Shakur, one of the more promising point guard prospects in the D-league, is currently at the helm for the Vipers, and he won’t be stepping aside just so Smith can log some time. It’ll be up to Smith to earn every minute he gets on the floor in he D, and if he plays as well as he did for the Rockets, he shouldn’t have too much of a problem grabbing every minute to be had in the Vipers’ backcourt.
Yesterday the D-League’s Erie BayHawks and Rio Grande Valley Vipers announced that they would add sponsor advertisements to their team uniforms for the coming season. Now, thanks to NBA.com (via Scott Schroeder of FanHouse), we have our first look at the D-League’s walking billboards:
According to Schroeder, the WNBA’s jersey ad model scored participating franchises over $1 million per season, though the D-League look (featuring the team name and the advertisement rather than the team name being replaced by the advertisement) may not be quite as lucrative due to the less favorable placement.
While yesterday I noted that NBA teams were unlikely to go the full ad route with their uniforms, this is a more reasonable model that could definitely be palatable to big league teams. Particularly in small markets, the allure of adding a sponsor’s logo for some quick, easy cash may be too good of a deal to pass up.
In a delightful “choose your own commercial subtext” move, two D-League teams have decided to sport ads on their uniforms beginning in the ’10-’11 season. The WNBA opened the door for this kind of development by doing the same last season, though it’s still rather unlikely that NBA teams will ever play along.
The NBA is by far the most commercially viable of the three leagues, and the decisions made by WNBA and D-League teams to sell jersey ad space is strictly financial. The Rio Grande Valley Vipers aren’t looking to ally themselves with Lone Star National Bank, it just makes enough business sense for the team to change the front of their unis while putting a few bucks in their pocket.
NBA teams though, through some reverent (or misguided, depending on your perspective I suppose) acknowledgment of both franchise and league tradition, seem tied to their laundry. Teams still look to sell more and more ads and take on more and more partners, but even in harsh economic times they’re not struggling to the point of “selling out” their history. The purple and gold wouldn’t look quite the same with a STAPLES logo across the front, and Celtic green doesn’t carry the same mystique with TD Banknorth emblazoned across the chest.
Regardless, it’s good enough for the D. The Erie Bayhawks and the aforementioned Rio Grande Valley Vipers will be the first in the D-League to cash in on jersey ads, and according to the associated press, both teams have agreed to multi-year deals with their respective sponsors.