Spotted on the Pine: 2013-14 Tipoff Special

The 2013-14 NBA season is upon us.  Let’s take a few moments to catch up with all of the players featured in Spotted on the Pine to date.

Diante Garrett

Diante was the first player to be featured in a Spotted on the Pine during the debut feature at the end of the 2012-13 season.  Garrett didn’t play much for the lowly Suns but shined during stints in the D-League.

Garrett spent the summer with the Suns still, playing well on their Las Vegas Summer League team.  With a glut of guaranteed contracts and several roster moves made before and after the Summer League as well as no guaranteed contract, Garrett became a victim of being the odd man out.

Diante wasn’t off the market for long though.  On September 27, 2013, the Western Conference powerhouse Oklahoma City Thunder came calling, inviting Diante to training camp.  The former Iowa State Cyclone had a fairly productive training camp.  With questions as to the return of All-Star Russell Westbrook, it became likely that Garrett could potentially make the roster.

As preseason closed, Westbrook began returning to practice and Garrett’s production fizzled, leading him to be one of the final cuts before the regular season started.  Often times, a cut like this would make it likely Diante would head to the Thunder’s D-League affiliate, however with OKC making it clear they do not plan to carry a third point guard, time will tell whether Diante catches on with another NBA club or tries his craft overseas.

Charles Jenkins

As mentioned in the article about Charles Jenkins, the disappointing end to the Philadelphia 76ers 2012-13 season ended with the fairly recently acquired Hofstra alum having his rookie contract expire.

There were no publicized reports of Jenkins getting a Summer League tryout, so Jenkins found himself going overseas.

On July 30, 2013, Charles signed a deal with Red Star Belgrade, a team in Serbia.

Part of the Adriatic Basketball Association, the team competes in the ABA, the Euroleague and the Serbian League and has had some notable American alumni pass through like Scoonie Penn.  Their season is already underway, and Charles is their starting Shooting Guard but a lot of the other information I find on the team isn’t available in English.

Kim English

In July 2013, the Pistons found themselves with 14 players under contract and three new rookies acquired at the draft in late June.  Pushing the deadline where contracts became guaranteed, the Pistons found themselves with a tough decision and had to make the move to cut Kim English.

English was very popular with his peers, with his fans, but like Garrett in Phoenix, was the odd man out.

English was extremely motivated, spending hours in the gym in July and August and on August 26th, English found his next team.  Perennial Italian League contender and Euroleague competitor Montepaschi Siena.

English only played a handful of minutes in Siena’s season opener but he started and dropped 12 points in 30 minutes against Bayern Munich in the second game of the season.  While Siena stands at 0-2 so far, English may get an opportunity to show more of his ability and return to the NBA by season’s end.

Kent Bazemore

While the Pine article on Bazemore came out in May, during the Warriors playoff run, Bazemore’s reputation grew as one of the NBA’s favorite sideline cheerleaders.

NBA game developers 2K Sports made sure to get his celebrations in the game.

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Bazemore was a star on the Championship winning Warriors Summer League squad, averaging 18.4 points, 4.6 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game.

Bazemore competed in some of the summer games that pros played in, where in a tournament in Brooklyn featuring NBA All-Stars like Kevin Durant and David Lee, people were still talking about the ability of Bazemore.

While on a team very guard heavy, all of the hype and promise Bazemore has shown may force some more time for the exciting young guard.

Hamed Haddadi

After years of sitting on the Memphis bench, a trade to the bleak 2012-13 Suns gave Hamed Haddadi the most court time he has seen in five NBA seasons.

While showing to be a productive player, Haddadi was a non-guaranteed contract that needed to be declined by a deadline for the rebuilding Phoenix franchise and was left teamless in the summer.

Haddadi’s name had been linked with the Knicks – who could use his size but the Knicks went with younger options.

He was then linked with the up and coming New Orleans Pelicans but the Pelicans had another young center fall in their lap (who will be mentioned shortly).

While people always talk about the lack of quality big men in the NBA, a big man that showed some promise was left teamless during the summer.

The Iranian center, still only 28 years old, landed a solid $1.3 million dollar deal to play in China with the Sichuan Blue Whales.

Sichuan is trying to infuse some NBA talent to push their club, also bringing in former Syracuse star and NBA Lottery pick Jonny Flynn.

Haddadi’s ability to put up star numbers in China could make a difference in how soon we see him with an NBA club, although most will remember from the lockout year, it isn’t always so easy to get clearance to return to an NBA club with a contract in China.

Cory Joseph

Joseph was featured as Spur as the team was embarking on the 2013 NBA Finals.  While falling short to the Miami Heat.

The Canadian youngster still has a spot with the Spurs but the big question is if he will get his rookie extension.  Many teams are starting to renew contracts on their 2011 draft picks and San Antonio clearly will do so with Cory’s teammate Kawhi Leonard, who is poised to become the next big Spur.

Joseph, who hasn’t seen as much time, is still as young as many of this year’s lottery picks.  As the Spurs continue to age, will Cory see more playing time?

Jarvis Varnado

Varnado, originally drafted by the Heat in 2010, rejoined the team in need of big man help toward the end of the year.  Splitting time between the Heat and their D-League affiliate the Sioux Falls Skyforce, the young shot blocker was essentially present but not active for the Heat’s second title win in the King James Era.

Jarvis was back in training camp with the Heat but once again, was sparingly used in the preseason.  Acquiring some veteran leadership in Roger Mason Jr. and whatever you want to call Michael Beasley, the Heat had to make some cuts and Jarvis was released by the Heat in late October.

Kyle O’Quinn

O’Quinn has a set role for the upcoming season with the young Magic.  Despite getting Rookie of the Year favorite Victor Oladipo, the Magic will still be in the hunt for the Andrew Wiggins sweepstakes (although last year we would’ve said Nerlens Noel sweepstakes and five teams passed on him in a weak draft…)

Orlando is very happy with the pair of Tobias Harris at 4 and Nikola Vucevic at 5, however the pair is more finesse than rugged at the big man spots.  This means O’Quinn is likely to get a lot of burn as a bruiser and enforcer to let Vucevic do his thing.  Keep in mind, Vucevic set the Magic’s single game rebound record last season, surprisingly putting his name over Shaquille O’Neal and Dwight Howard in the team record book.

O’Quinn will potentially start, come in, bang people around and once they’ve been pushed around, Harris, wearing Howard’s old jersey of 12, will provide more offense.

Mike Scott

Mike Scott has a special place in my heart for being the first player to retweet their article.  Big shout-out to Mike!

Scott is another player who put in a lot of work this offseason to hopefully see an increased role.  His team, the Atlanta Hawks had a solid offseason re-upping Kyle Korver, picking up Paul Millsap and Elton Brand and even should see the healthy return of last year’s acquisition Louis Williams, who was injured shortly into his Hawks career.  This core, as well as Hawks All-Star Al Horford, should see the Hawks quietly seek into one of the mid to lower playoff seeds in the East.

Scott came to camp fifteen pounds lighter and appeared to have broadened shoulders, something helpful for the young power forward.  He improved his outside shot over the summer and was the Hawks scoring leader in preseason games against Miami and Charlotte.

This came after Scott had the sixth best scoring average in the Vegas Summer League (18.6 points per game) and has been the talk of the Hawks organization.  While currently on a contract that does not become guaranteed until January, everyone from new coach Mike Budenholzer to star big man Horford have praised Scott as the individual to have the best offseason.

Probably because he retweeted us.

Jon Leuer

Leuer was one of the guys that seemingly was respected in the organizations he had been in but truly landed in the right spot toward the end of last season, heading to Memphis at the end of January.

With a team fighting for playoff positioning, there wasn’t much opportunity for Leuer to show his skills. But those opportunities are also some of what makes the preseason fun.

Memphis, projected to have a strong season under new coach Dave Joerger, has really enjoyed a coming out party for Jon.  A double-double performance against Dallas as well as a solid stat line in limited minutes against Toronto has proven the former Wisconsin Badger to be a model of consistency with his hustling, scoring and rebounding.

Leuer has shown to be the player featured to date most likely to make an immediate impact to a playoff bound team.

Dionte Christmas

Dionte Christmas was the first player featured as a free agent in a Pine article.  Dionte was heading to the Las Vegas Summer League to join new Phoenix Suns coach Jeff Hornacek and a team that consisted of several players that were on the Suns 2012 active roster – Markieff Morris, Marcus Morris, PJ Tucker, Kendall Marshall, Diante Garrett.  The Suns seemed like a longshot, as even though they were in desperate need for help, they had too many guaranteed contracts.

Garrett, who had been buried on their bench, was trying to get back on the squad in the Summer League.

However, Christmas worked hard.  He had a great Summer League as part of the run the Suns made to the championship game.

As training camp rosters were getting set, Dionte still stayed patiently waiting.  Then Michael Beasley happened.

Beasley was busted in Scottsdale, Arizona on drug charges and the new leadership within the organization finally decided to pull the plug on the Beasley experiment.

With the roster opening, Christmas was given a call.  He received a partially guaranteed contract, despite the fact that the Suns had too many players under contract and headed to training camp.  Christmas was a solid contributor in the early preseason but with a roster at 18, he was on the block.

James Nunnally, the only non-guaranteed contract was waived first.  Two more cuts were needed out of the guaranteed contracts and the names discussed were Christmas, Malcolm Lee and Ish Smith – the three with the smallest contracts.

Instead of making cuts, the Suns pulled a big trade, sending starting center Marcin Gortat to Washington with Kendall Marshall, Malcolm Lee and Shannon Brown for Emeka Okafor and a draft pick.  The Suns wouldn’t have to make cuts and Dionte Christmas, who has been long overdue to play in a regular season NBA game, is finally on the cusp of doing so.

Andrew Goudelock

The former Laker Goudelock was coming off his D-League MVP stint and had a great Summer League with the Bulls.  A proven offensive threat, Goudelock still showed some defensive liabilities during summer play.

At the end of July, Goudelock received an offer overseas that he jumped on.  Rather than making the NBA minimum, Andrew signed a $1 million deal with Russian club UNICS Kazan.

Goudelock is the starting point guard and most recently did what he does best – dropped 28 points on Lietuvos Rytas of Lithuania.

Ian Clark

In contrast to Goudelock, Clark was a player that was snapped up immediately following the Summer League.  While winning MVP honors for the championship Golden State Warriors squad, Clark caught the eyes of the Utah Jazz and immediately got a contract.

Clark held his own in the preseason and made the roster over several camp invites who had previous NBA experience such as Lester Hudson, Scott Machado and Brian Cook.

Clark has quickly become friends with Rudy Gobert (pronounced GO BEAR, which makes him instantly great).  Probably a good thing the rookies are getting along, seeing John Lucas III and Derrick Favors forced them to get their nails painted in a Utah mall as part of rookie hazing recently.

Dwight Buycks

Buycks earned his contract with the Toronto Raptors after a strong showing in the Summer League.  After working overseas, Buycks made it through the Raptors pre-season and will be on the roster.  The bigger question is where he will be on the depth chart.

Currently, Buycks seems like a solid choice to back up starting point guard Kyle Lowry.  Buycks has impressed coach Dwane Casey with his speed, as Casey has compared the speed of Dwight to Leandro Barbosa.

Carrick Felix

Felix, a second-round pick out of Arizona State, was given a nice contract by the Cleveland Cavaliers.  Felix would miss some of the preseason due to a sports hernia.

Despite getting praise from those within the Cavalier organization, Felix seems primed to start his NBA journey with Cleveland’s D-League affiliate the Canton Charge.

The Cavalier are carrying several guards – Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters, Jarrett Jack, Earl Clark, Alonzo Gee and CJ Miles.

While Carrick could likely bring some spark as well, he is probably best served honing his game by getting more playing time with the Charge, as well as potentially getting some tutelage from new Charge assistant coach James Posey.

Josh Harrellson

The new look Pistons brought in Josh Harrellson this summer, who also was kind enough to retweet his article.

Harrellson will bring some big man depth to the young Detroit squad, who could very well make a playoff push.

Pistons will certainly focus most of their minutes on Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe but when the young bigs get in some foul trouble, Harrellson will bring a much needed spark off the bench, while also bringing a better outside shot to the court.

Archie Goodwin

Goodwin’s article came out after he impressed many in league circles with his maturity following the rookie sessions mandated by the league.

Goodwin has continued to impress.  While still getting “rookie minutes” on the Suns in the preseason, he has shown some spark and excitement.

A solid performance against Israeli club Maccabi Haifa in Archie’s preseason debut was just the start.  Archie will be behind Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe with the Suns rebuilding efforts but with three guards recently moved in the Gortat deal and the rumors that Dragic may get shopped next, Archie should be a prime piece in the campaign of the Suns to “Ignite the Future”.

Darnell Jackson

Darnell Jackson had just signed a training camp deal with the Indiana Pacers when he was featured.  The Pacers, who should be one of the top teams in the East, seemed to get a good enforcer type player by picking up Jackson.

Jackson stuck with Indiana throughout all of training camp but didn’t see many minutes in the preseason.  Stuck behind several other talented players on the bench, Jackson logged under three minutes total in all of the team’s preseason games and became a victim of cuts to meet the league’s roster rules.

Greg Stiemsma

Greg Stiemsma landed a nice spot this offseason, becoming the backup center on the up and coming New Orleans Pelicans.

The Pelicans had a huge offseason, picking up Tyreke Evans and Jrue Holiday to go with their young core of Eric Gordon, Anthony Davis, Austin Rivers and Ryan Anderson.

Stiemsma should add some great big man depth and had a quiet preseason.  He missed two games due to hip issues and in one of the games he did play, he was on the receiving end of a Hasheem Thabeet headbutt, which will see Thabett suspended for opening night.  Interesting note, the Thunder preseason resulted in three opening night suspensions, all being issued in three different games.

Coach Monty Williams doesn’t expect any center to develop into his system fast but if Stiemsma gets more playing time in New Orleans then he did in Boston or Minnesota, the young big man should develop just fine.

 

Written by B. Patrick

Currently residing in Phoenix, Arizona, B. Patrick’s interests include comedy, basketball, wrestling, comic books and can change as quickly as a butterfly flaps its wings.

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