Coverage from last night's loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder...
Yesterday, the Portland Trail Blazers announced that center Fabricio Oberto was going to retire, leaving the team with an open roster spot and a need for a big man. "We certainly are looking at bringing somebody in," Blazers coach Nate McMillan said after the game. Portland is set to work out five players and is said to be motivated to fill out their roster in the immediate short-term.
Here's a quick look at each of the five players. Height and weight information and the brief biographical summaries are courtesy of the 2010-2011 Pro Basketball Prospectus, co-written by Kevin Pelton.
Mandatory plug since I keep stealing all of this great information on our collective behalf: support the cause and order your copy on Amazon.com.
Listed at: 7'0", 250
Journeyman Earl Barron played well for the Knicks in a snippet of playing time at the end of last season, but he was still looking for work at press time. Barron is an offense-first center who has a nice face-up shot on long twos. Unfortunately, it's tough to build a career out of that if you don't defend well, which appears to be the case for Barron. Barron's rebound percentages were excellent for New York, far better than his below-average career norms. If he has legitimately improved his rebounding, he can still find a job.
NBADraft.Net has him listed at 6'10", 245 pounds.
Eric Boateng was undrafted out of Arizona State this past year, and is therefore not in this year's Basketball Prospectus. Here's Boateng's NBA.com page. He played for the New York Knicks during this year's Summer League and for the Denver Nuggets during the preseason, and didn't make much of an impact either place. Here are his preseason stats courtesy of a Nuggets.com press release.
Boateng averaged 1.6 points and 4.2 rebounds in five preseason games. He had two points, 10 rebounds and two assists against the Los Angeles Clippers on Oct. 17.
Listed at: 6'11", 250
Despite putting up monster numbers in the D-League, Dwayne Jones was repeatedly passed over for call-ups before the Suns finally signed him late in the season. He was dealt to Toronto with Leandro Barbosa, but returned to Phoenix after being waived by the Raptors and has a good chance to make the Suns' roster to provide some needed size. Jones has always been able to rebound and defend, as he demonstrated while playing a career-high 473 minutes for Cleveland in 2007-08. He's especially effective on the offensive glass, and putbacks are responsible for a good portion of his offense. What Jones showed in the D-League was the ability to score on a regular basis. Translated to the NBA environment, his usage rate of 14.8 percent of his team's plays was nearly double Jones'involvement with the Cavaliers' offense. Backup big men with the ability to contribute at both ends are a rare commodity. Jones' statistics suggest he might be one.
Jones worked out for the Blazers last year when they were trying to fill their 15th roster spot in the face of injuries to Greg Oden and Joel Przybilla.
Listed at: 6'10", 250
2009-10 marked a decade in the league for the affable Kiwi, who has made a career out of being a good guy to have around. Marks has played 2,068 career minutes, a number exceeded by 124 players last season alone. This total is historic. Over the past three decades, no NBA player has played as few minutes as Marks during the first 10 years of their career. (10-day contract specialist Randy Livingston came closest, playing 2,658 minutes.) Marks might have added to that total last season had he not missed 33 games due to injury (he finished theyear on the shelf due to a shoulder injury that lingered and kept him out of this summer's FIBA World Championship). When he was pressed into duty during the 2008-09 season, however, Marks was ineffective, struggling defensively and showing no skills league average or better. He saw just 75 minutes of action when he was healthy for a team that was perilously thin in the frontcourt last year. Still, the Washington Post reported in September that Marks was headed to training camp with the Wizards.
Listed at: 6'10", 236
Shavlik Randolph is unlikely to make the Miami roster as he enters camp with a partially guaranteed contract. Forthe Heat, Randolph is always just a phone call away. He's played 25 games in three years, which makes him the prototype of an NBA fringer. When he does get on the court, Randolph is strictly a banger. He rebounds, gives a few fouls and, like Ollie in Hoosiers, has been ordered not to shoot unless he's wide open under the basket.
Randolph, of course, is also a Blazersedge Legend.
Update (9:06 AM) Rod Benson, aka Boom Tho, chimes in on Twitter this morning to say, "Im better than all those guys. I can now confidently say that since Im in Korea."
-- Ben Golliver | firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter