4 players signed, two drafted and a whole lot of question marks

Yesterday marked the signing of Halifax’s first four players so it’s probably a good time to reflect on the current and potential roster.

Just to get it out of the way: I have absolutely no idea where the Dennis Rodman rumour came from, but I got a few hundred hits yesterday from people who seemed to have believed it. Rodman’s playing days, even in the minors, are long over. Last season he managed to convince the owner of the now defunct Elmira Bull Dogs of the EBL to fork over $80k for the privilege of having him coach two games mid-season. The publicity stunt bankrupted the upper NY state team. (The owner, James Schutz, once owned the Corning Bulldogs in the ABA, a team which no showed on Halifax after folding mid-ABA season just like so many other teams. Schutz now owns and runs the ACPBL, a fourth rate American regional minor league) The Rodman rumour seemed to have come from some clueless internet folk making shit up and everyone believing them.

So now that we’ve established who Halifax didn’t sign, it might be worth mentioning who they did sign.

Andre had hyped these signings up and I had no illusions that we were going to see an NBA starter show up in Halifax, but I imagined a player along the lines of Morris Peterson (a former business partner of Andre’s)  might be a viable option, so when the announcement was Eddie Robinson and Rodney Buford I was a bit underwhelmed. It’s a good example of over selling and under delivering. Had Andre just held the press conference without any hype then the media likely would have been excited about two NBA journeymen joining the team and fans would have followed suit. It also would have helped reduce the chances of fan disappointment when at least one of these guys (probably Robinson) turns out to be a huge bust.

I actually think that Buford could potentially contribute here. Yes he’s had at least six separate substance abuse related disciplinary issues, but they’ve all only involved marijuana for the most part so I think he’s more of a “problematic character guy” than “a head case” or “dangerous criminal.” He’s also played at a very high level since leaving the NBA and has the size and tools to be an elite scorer at this level. I think he will produce, but I am unsure if he’ll produce enough to justify the huge salary he will no doubt be drawing. Given the fact that he will likely take up much more cap space, I am not sure he’s a totally justifiable upgrade over a guy like Mike Mercer. I am also curious to see if they decide to try to play him at the off-guard spot or move him over to small forward.
Eddie Robinson will likely not stick around. The guy hasn’t even been playing pro-ball on a regular basis since bouncing from the bulls and is now a 35 year old. Time is never kind to wing players who rely entirely on athleticism and that’s exactly what Robinson was. His stats for the 2006-07 D-league season with Idaho aren’t terrible: 15.6 ppg, 3.6 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.4 steals a game. But keep two things in mind: first, that was when the D-league was still a disorganized mess of a league with a low level of talent. Second, that was five years ago and it was the last time Robinson played any level of pro-ball.  Maybe he’ll surprise me, but I doubt it.

Largely overlooked has been the re-signing of two players from last year’s team. Taliek Brown was last year’s starting PG and is in many ways a player with a much better pedigree than either of the former NBAers announced yesterday.  He’s a former NCAA champion with UConn, and he wasn’t a bench player on that team. He was the starting point guard. I thought he was one of the best guards in the PBL last year and he is a legitimate high level professional floor general. He can run a team, get to the rim and play D against most point guards (although he did struggle staying in front of very quick guards last season his experience and strength let him push a lot of smaller guys around). His major flaw is that he has absolutely no jump shot, but the reality is that if a player that good could also shoot the ball he would never be available to play in the NBL. Of the four players signed yesterday he is far and away the safest bet to be a contributor to the team this season.

Finally,t he team announced that DeAndre Thomas will be joining the team for a third time. He’s a giant ball of basketball talent who was notorious for eating big macs as a pre-game meal during his brief sting with the University of Indiana. He’s 6’7″ish but throws his considerable weight around well. He has incredible hands and amazing footwork but he has been a constant headcase everywhere he’s gone (including Halifax) and is incredibly foul prone and lazy on the defensive end of the floor. (or rather, he’s so lazy he often doesn’t bother to go to the defensive end of the floor). He’s another guy who likely won’t last to the playoffs, if he even gets out of training camp.

On the whole I feel like there were two signings today that are likely to be good moves (Brown and Buford) and two that I don’t think will pan out (Robinson and Thomas). If two of Halifax’s starting five are a former NCAA Champion and a former NBA player then I think the team is positioned well.

The problem is that with camp opening the first week of October the team’s signed, drafted and otherwise likely list of players is short. As of now it looks like this:

PG: Taliek Brown (signed), Jerrell Thomson (sort of drafted, unsigned), Christian Upshaw (unsigned camp invite)

SG: Pappa Oppong (drafted, unsigned), Rodney Buford (signed)

SF: Eddie Robinson (signed)

PF: Eric Crookshank (unsigned but likely to return), Danny Friend (drafted, unsigned), DeAndre Thomas (signed)

So basically they have no one locked at the centre and powerforward spots except for DeAndre Thomas and a glut of old guys and unproven, undersized guards. I know it is early but they need to get some proven minor league vets into camp and try to bring in some athletic wing players. I expect yet another season of musical chairs at the centre spot while Andre hunts for the non-existent affordable, versatile and athletic minor league centre.

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