Josh Pace is back in the land of sheep and hobbits!
Pace has signed on with the Manawatu Jets for the 2012 New Zealand basketball season. After leading the Hawkes Bay Hawks (seriously) to a runner-up finish in last season’s championship, Josh will join former Duke center Nick Horvath on the Jets this year. They brought him on board because of his “winning pedigree”, as he has won championships in New Zealand to go along with his 2003 NCAA ring. Their season begins March 3 and runs through July. You know, winter.
Things are pretty bleak for the former Orangemen in the NBA. After a reasonably good start to the season, Hakim Warrick saw his numbers dwindle over the course of the month of January. And since February began, he’s basically been squeezed out of the rotation entirely. He’s only played in one of the Suns’ last eight games, and then for less than four minutes of game time. Probably the only reason he got in at all was that it was the middle game of a three-games-in-three-days chunk, and they decided to give Grant Hill the night off. Jonny Flynn also is not playing at all in Houston. He is firmly the third-string point guard. He did get one minute of PT last night; it was his first action since January 28 and only his third game since January 7. Various Flynn trade rumors have sprouted, including one involving the Knicks (before Jeremy Lin took over the national sports narrative, rendering any such discussion moot). If he doesn’t get dealt, he’ll have to wait until he becomes a free agent this summer to make his next move.
Speaking of the Knicks, as I’m sure you know, Carmelo has been injured and missed the past seven games — all of which the Knicks have won in his absence, thanks to the emergence of Lin. This has engendered a lot of discussion among the talking heads about whether the Knicks are better without Carmelo and whether he can coexist with their freshly-minted star point guard. In case you’re wondering, the answers to those questions are no and yes, respectively. Those of us who have followed Anthony’s pro career know that his best results came when he played alongside Andre Miller, a point guard who could score but also facilitate, just like Lin has shown himself capable of doing. Carmelo will certainly take a bunch of shots, but he’ll take them in the flow of the offense, now that their offense actually has a flow. It may take a game or two for everyone to get comfortable with each other, but I am certain that they will each make each other a better player.
As for the other guys in the NBA, Donte Greene has been getting steady reserve minutes for the Kings, usually 10 or 15 a game. I actually watched a little bit of a recent Kings game on NBATV, just to get a glimpse of Donte. I didn’t recognize him at first, he’s gotten a lot bulkier. Which makes sense considering he’s still not yet 24 (his birthday is next week). The Kings announcers said something I found surprising, namely that it’s his defense that has been the most consistent and valuable part of his game. A little poking around the internet and, sure enough, here’s an article from the Sacramento Bee’s Kings blog that mentions exactly that. The Kings look at Donte as a versatile defender who will once in a while score a bunch of points. And he seems to have embraced that role. My how things can change.
And Wes Johnson is still starting in Minnesota, but he’s really in a platoon at shooting guard. He gets about 22 minutes per game and averages just 5.7 points and 2.8 rebounds. And there is not a lot of spread around those averages. It’s not as if he scores 20 one night but 2 the next three nights. He is very consistently putting in between 4 and 8 points per night. He has only four double-figure scoring games this season. Even though it’s only his second year, and his first with their new coach and system, he’s starting to be tagged with the “bust” label. Clearly, Minnesota is where SU stars’ careers go to die.
In the D-League, Eric Devendorf is doing his thing for the Reno Bighorns after leaving the Idaho Stampede, with whom he began the season. Devo has been steady but not spectacular for Reno. Since joining them, he’s played in eight games, averaging around 16 minutes and 9 points per game, with a high of 15 points on February 6. And I’m sure you saw the stories about a week ago that had Paul Harris giving up basketball and trying out for the NFL. Well it turns out he was essentially kidding — the idea did briefly come up but he soon decided it would not be a good move. He’s back with the Maine Red Claws after missing some time with an injury, and he’s getting his form back. On February 10, for instance, he scored 19 points, with 6 rebounds and 5 assists. He’s still hoping to get a look from an NBA team later this year. Terrence Roberts is apparently still injured. He’s not on the LA D-Fenders’ active roster; the last word was that he was ‘waived due to injury’ on December 28, which means they retain his rights if and when he is ready to return to the D-League.
When we last looked at the European contingent, there were injuries galore. As we reported back in December, Arinze Onuaku blew out his knee, again. Currently he is not under contract anywhere, so is probably still rehabbing here in the States. Demetris Nichols and Rick Jackson are both playing in France. Both were injured during November. Nichols is still out, but Rick came back in early January. After two subpar games (I’ll assume he was just knocking off the rust) he had a solid 14 points and 6 boards on Jan 14, and then turned in his best performance of the year with 20 points and 8 rebounds on Jan 27. On the season, Rick is averaging 8.7 ppg and 5.9rpg.
Next door in Germany, Elvir Ovcina continues his steady and sometimes spectacular slog. He’s averaging just over 12 points and just under 7 rebounds per game. His best recent effort was 19 points and 12 rebounds on February 4. On the other side of France we have Andy Rautins, playing in Spain. He’s living up to his reputation as a long-range marksman. Andy is shooting 43% from deep so far this season for Lucentium Alicante. He’s averaging 7.5 points per game through 8 games with the team. He’s attempted 40 threes and only 17 twos (and only three free throws). His best game was on Feburary 5 when he went 4/5 from deep and hit his only free throw attempt to finish with 13 points. (I wonder if he made a 4-point play?)
In Turkey, we find Mert “Don’t call me Preston anymore” Shumpert. A picture is worth some number of Turkish words, in this case:
That’s right. I may not know Turkish but I know what an MRI machine looks like. Mert has not appeared in a game since January 15. The good news is that “Medical Park” is not only the name on the MRI machine, they are his team’s corporate sponsor. So he is undoubtedly getting the best care Turkey has to offer.
And Mookie Watkins is playing in Cyprus. I still have not found game-by-game stats for the Cypriot players published anywhere, but in his most recent game Mookie scored 21 points and had 6 rebounds (legible box score) and for the season he is averaging 7.5 rebounds per game, and is scoring around 13 points per game. His 99 total rebounds leads the league, and his 168 points is ninth overall. Why Cyprus publishes their league leaders by totals only and not averages, I have no idea.
Finally, in our last update we noted that Damone Brown was playing, or at least had briefly played, in Mexico. Well it looks like he’s taken his talents further south. Since the beginning of February he has been rocking rims in Venezuela. Their season is just underway this month. Damone is playing for Guaros de Lara, where he is teamed up with Smush Parker among others. He’s averaging 14 points and 7.5 rebounds per game through four games, including a nice 17-point, 10-rebound performance on February 12. Unfortunately the website for the Venezuelan league has stopped responding since I began writing this post, so I can’t find the links to prove this information. Maybe my multiple page requests overloaded their server.
Last but not least, it’s MATT GORMAN TIME!! Yes, our old pal Matty has come home. He’s left the bizarre foreign land of Great Britain, with its strange customs and unintelligible dialects, and signed on with a good old American minor league team. He’s playing for the Scranton Steamers in the PBL, which is the ‘high-class’ minor league, professionally run, at least in comparison to the ABA. (Although it looks like someone in PBL management has dropped the proverbial ball, and let their web domain expire, because their website now redirects to an online coupon store). Matt has played in three games for the Steamers since joining them at the end of January. He’s averaging 7 points and 3 rebounds in (so far) limited minutes. Luckily their stat server is hosted elsewhere, so I was able to bring you this crucial information.
So, that’s what’s up. Thanks for reading, and keep checking back to see who else gets injured.