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.
Virtually every non-guaranteed contract given out right now for team training camp is for a guy with no chance to make the team.
Pops Mensah-Bonsu may be the exception. He has gotten an invite to Hornets camp, according to a tweet from Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo. While the deal is not guaranteed this is a team with just 15 guys in camp (as of now), and a team that could use some depth along the front line.
Mensah-Bonsu was supposed to play in Spain this season but was released by Caja Laboral in a curious manor. Everyone knows Pops has had knee issues, but they have not slowed him lately. Yet the Spanish team said he did not pass the physical, which was almost certainly just an excuse to make a roster move.
That could be a break for the Hornets. Mensah-Bonsu at 6’9″ brings NBA level athleticism to the court, and some pretty good defense. He has been a D-League All-Star and dominated on that level. His shooting percentage in the NBA has never been good (under 50 percent at the rim, layups and dunks, last season), maybe that is the reason coaches never seem to give him a lot of run (sometimes it’s been roster crunch, sometimes it is something else).
This is a roster where after Emeka Okafor and David West your bigs are Craig Brackins, Aaron Gray, Darryl Watkins and Darius Songaila. Mensah-Bonsu should be able to compete and add something to that front line. He may must stick and get some minutes.
Some bad player research in Spain is good news for NBA fans. Let me explain. Wait, there is not time, let me sum up.
Pops Mensah-Bonsu — who played well at Summer League — signed a deal with two-time defending Spanish league champion Caja Laboral. Then he got there and they released him after he failed the physical.
Smart money says this was just an excuse — as Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress.com tweeted, everyone and their cousin knew about a past knee injury and surgery for Mensah-Bonsu. And as Scott Schroeder at Ridiculous Upside noted it didn’t stop him from averaging 19.3 points and 13.5 rebounds per game for England during the Eurobasket qualifiers this summer.
Whatever. It’s all good for NBA fans, as Scott spoke to Mensah-Bonsu’s agent.
…[it’s good for] the NBA veteran and former D-League All-Star, however, as he will sign with an NBA team this week according to agent John Greig. Greig wouldn’t specify which team Mensah-Bonsu is signing with, only revealing that it is “not a team in the Northwest Division.”
He might have been a good pickup for the Timberwolves. So we can rule that out now.
A month ago, Pops Mensah-Bonsu was bound for Spain, set for next season on a deal with Caja Laboral. Since then, Mensah-Bonsu tore up a EuroBasket qualifier as a member of Great Britain’s national team, and secured GB a spot in the big, bad EuroBasket tourney next summer.
Apparently in Spain, this is grounds for termination. According to The Hoops Market, Caja Laboral has released Mensah-Bonsu, and a report from El Correo points to a lingering knee injury as the cause. It’s entirely possible that the team saw something in Pops’ physical they didn’t like. Or, Caja Laboral utilized Mensah-Bonsu’s knee as a convenient way to nix the arrangement.
Tough to say for sure. All we know is that Mensah-Bonsu is suddenly unattached, and it’s possible he could slip onto an NBA training camp roster. It’s a fool’s errand to sort through depth charts for a team in need of another big; Pops’ skills and knack for hustling make him a nice, versatile candidate for end-of-the-bench minutes, even for teams already going three-deep at forward.
However, it shouldn’t be ruled out that Pops could find another overseas home with a different European club. After all, there’s a reason why Mensah-Bonsu signed with Caja Laboral in the first place, even if he’s an NBA-caliber talent.
Links via Tom Ziller of FanHouse and Mark Deeks of Sham Sports.
Great Britain’s national basketball team has been fairly awful. So awful, in fact, that FIBA has threatened to bar the team from competing in the 2012 Summer Olympics, despite being the host country. It’s a rare distinction among the more prominent Olympic host nations, reserved strictly for the truly embarrassing competitors in a particular sport.
However, GB’s team made a leap forward last night, when they qualified for the 2011 EuroBasket tournament with a 94-85 overtime win over Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Two NBAers (one current and one…quasi) led the way for Great Britain: Luol Deng dropped a gaudy 38-pointer while grabbing 13 boards, and Pops Mensah-Bonsu, who played for the Raptors last season but will play in Spain for the upcoming one, notched 32 and 21. Two huge individual performances, but neither quite measures up to the importance of this victory for the British national team.
However, as Tom Ziller noted at FanHouse, GB’s big win hardly closes the case of their participation in 2012, even if things are looking up:
Of course, with NBA commissioner David Stern and the international and British Olympic committees deeply
interested in seeing Team GB in London, FIBA has a bit of a chip here,
and will certainly keep everyone guessing until mid-2012, unless the
British manage to win an automatic berth by performing really well at
Even though this win doesn’t seal the deal for Great Britain, it’s a huge step in the right direction. Deng’s former Bulls teammate, Ben Gordon, said he will play with the team next summer, giving the full-strength squad a chance to showcase their competitive worth against the top teams in Europe. Great Britain would in no way be a contender for the EuroBasket crown, but a decent showing could be enough to secure an Olympic spot.