Big Names Entering NBA D-League Soon
And it's about to get even stronger.
According to a league source, NBA prospects Joe Alexander, Stanley Robinson (photo right), DeShawn Sims and Charles Garcia have signed contracts to play in the D-League, making all four players eligible to clear waivers Tuesday. The D-League's waiver wire is operated like your typical fantasy draft, meaning that the Idaho Stampede -- the team with the last pick in this year's D-League draft -- will have first choice at the players entering the pool. The complete draft list can be found here.
The D-League already boasts former draft picks Antonio Daniels, Patrick Patterson, Nick Fazekas, Patrick Ewing Jr., Solomon Alabi, Magnum Rolle, JamesOn Curry, Kyle Weaver, Christian Eyenga, Salim Stoudamire, Reece Gaines, Tiny Gallon, Orien Greene, Gani Lawal, Walter Sharpe, Robert Vaden and homegrown Latavious Williams, but will add two more in Alexander and Robinson. Garcia and Sims were both NBA prospects this summer, but failed stints overseas led them to return to the States.
The highest profile of the four is probably Alexander, now considered a rather obvious bust after being chosen by the Milwaukee Bucks with the eighth overall pick in the 2008 NBA Draft. An absolute athlete at the University of West Virginia, Alexander was able to parlay a big senior season in which he averaged 16.9 points and 6.4 rebounds into being selected ahead of fellow big men Brook Lopez, Jason Thompson, Robin Lopez, Roy Hibbert, J.J. Hickson and Serge Ibaka.
Alexander's undoubtedly had the worst career, however, as he was the highest picked rookie to ever have his contract option declined as only the immortal Patrick O'Bryant and Yaroslav Korolev shared this honor. Alexander was able to make the New Orleans Hornets out of training camp this fall, but was released last week after not appearing in any games.
Stanley Robinson, the 59th overall pick in this year's NBA Draft by the Orlando Magic, is another spectacular athlete without much in the way of refined skills -- which, of course, means that he's perfect for the D-League. At the University of Connecticut, Robinson played in 126 career games during his four years, averaging 9.8 points, 6.2 rebounds and over one block per game in just over 26 minutes of court time. He also helped the Huskies reach the Final Four in 2008-09.
Sims (photo right) went undrafted this year after standing out for the past three seasons at the University of Michigan, but he was nonetheless able to parlay a solid showing with the Boston Celtics in the Orlando Pro Summer League into a training camp invite with the Celtics. Sims turned that offer down, however, instead deciding to begin his professional career overseas with Greek powerhouse PAOK Thessaloniki. The 22-year-old Sims played three games in Greece, but left the team earlier this month for reasons unknown -- but without the approval of the team -- according to Greek media. It seems everything has been straightened out now, however, and he should be an impact player for whichever D-League team claims the versatile power forward.
Last, but not least, Garcia comes to the D-League under similar circumstances to those of Sims'. Garcia started last season out, as FanHouse's Tom Ziller described so eloquently, "like gangbusters" but quickly returned back to earth as his season at Seattle University progressed. Garcia was talked about leading up to the NBA Draft, but alas went undrafted and tried his luck by playing for the New York Knicks in the Vegas Summer League. After not getting much run with the Knicks, however, Garcia decided to sign in Turkey with Oyak Renault but was bought out of his contract just two games into season due to the team looking for, as Garcia's agent put it, "more of a post guy, a banger." Garcia's agent also alluded to a possibility of playing in the D-League at the time of the Turkey ordeal, saying, "Maybe the D-League's a blessing for him, although he can't make any money there."
While the money is certainly not as bountiful in the D-League as it is in some markets overseas, it is the easiest route to the NBA -- which is more than likely why all four of these players have decided to give it a shot.