The 1 Player Every NBA Team Will Regret Cutting in Training Camp
NBA hopefuls are duking it out for roster spots in training camps across the league, and teams have to make some tough roster trim-downs over the next couple weeks before the 2012 regular season starts.
Oftentimes, executives end up regretting the preseason decisions they make. Just because a player gets cut doesn't mean he isn't an NBA-caliber player, and the team that lets him go might find that out the hard way.
The 2012 preseason features several quality players who are on the chopping block and corresponding franchises that will regret releasing them.
Atlanta Hawks: James Anderson
Out of all of Atlanta's training camp invitees who are likely to be cut, James Anderson has the best track record of consistency and productivity.
The Oklahoma State product spent his first couple NBA campaigns with the San Antonio Spurs. He's not exactly an offensive juggernaut, but he realized that early in his career, and improved his defensive and rebounding outputs.
The Hawks' swingman depth isn't anything special, and they'll soon wish they had the kind of depth Anderson can provide.
Boston Celtics: Dionte Christmas
The battle for Boston's last roster slot essentially comes down to Kris Joseph versus Dionte Christmas.
Joseph has the advantage from a size, shooting and college pedigree standpoint, and he probably deserves the spot.
However, I'm sure Doc Rivers wishes he didn't have to send Christmas packing. He'd rather have both players on the squad and see how they develop.
Neither player will become a dangerous NBA star, but it would be a bummer for Boston fans to see Christmas blossom elsewhere as an all-around swingman who can score, pass and rebound effectively within the flow of the game.
Brooklyn Nets: Stephen Dennis
The bulk of the Nets roster is all set for the transition to the Big Apple, but possible guard cuts include NBADL standout Stephen Dennis—a player Avery Johnson will wish he kept around longer.
Dennis was a dynamic playmaker in the D-League last year for the Bakersfield Jam. In just 22.5 minutes per game, he scored 10.5 points and dealt 3.8 assists.
Dennis deserves more than just the novelty of a training camp invitation. The Nets have roster spots, and their shooting guard situation outside of Joe Johnson and MarShon Brooks is tenuous.
Charlotte Bobcats: DaJuan Summers
Bobcats hopeful DaJuan Summers has fallen short of his pre-career expectations, but if Charlotte cuts him, it will lose a player who's going to continue his three-year record of improvement.
Summers substantially has improved his shooting efficiency, passing and defense since his 2009-10 rookie season. With the Hornets last year, the 6'8" forward shot 43 percent from the field in more than 14 minutes per game. In the previous two seasons, he shot 35 percent and 40 percent from the field, respectively.
It's probable that Summers and Josh Owens will get the pink slip, but Summers is the cut the Bobcats actually will regret.
Chicago Bulls: Marko Jaric
Aside from the Derrick Rose-less point guard situation, shooting guard is the weakest position on the Chicago Bulls roster.
Tom Thibodeau will be relying on Richard Hamilton, Marco Belinelli and part-time efforts from Nate Robinson at the 2. Adding another Marko would bolster the depth chart, even though the Bulls won't carry a 14th player on the roster.
Marko Jaric never found a groove during his one year in Memphis, but he's a career 34 percent three-point shooter, and is good for seven-plus points and three or more assists per game off the bench.
The best bet is to have all hands on deck until Rose makes his comeback.
Cleveland Cavaliers: Jon Leuer
After an under-the-radar rookie season, former Milwaukee Bucks forward Jon Leuer was dealt to Houston as part of the Rockets' 2012 draft-pick shuffle. He was then waived by Houston and now finds himself back in the Central Division with Cleveland.
Cutting Leuer would be a big mistake for the Cavaliers, because Leuer actually had a much better rookie season than his per-game statistics would suggest.
The 6'10" Wisconsin product was efficient on both ends of the floor, posting 51 percent shooting and playing solid defense against Eastern Conference power forwards.
Considering it was his rookie year, Leuer is in for a solid, albeit unspectacular, career. Cleveland is going to wish it was a part of it.
Dallas Mavericks: Tu Holloway
Over the course of the 2011-12 season, Xavier Musketeers guard Tu Holloway went from being a projected surefire second-round draft pick to going undrafted.
The shifty sharpshooter who ruled the Atlantic 10 didn't get any worse despite his draft value dropping in NBA executives' eyes.
The Mavericks training camp invitee has the type of quickness, ball-handling ability and shooting range to be a scoring combo guard off the bench. Dallas already announced it cut Holloway, but the Mavs will regret it when he turns into a breakout performer for whoever picks him up.
Denver Nuggets: Ben Uzoh
Three teams in two years doesn't exactly spell "All-Star," but Ben Uzoh is the guard whose most likely to get cut by Denver, and regrettably so.
The Nuggets may go with known entity Anthony Carter, the veteran floor general who spent five years with Denver from 2006-11. However, Carter's production has dropped the last couple seasons, while Uzoh's best basketball is yet to come.
Denver's backcourt isn't terribly deep, and this decision could affect its season more than we realize right now.
Detroit Pistons: Kim English
As a second-round draft choice, Kim English is really only valued for his outside shooting and is otherwise expendable.
If Detroit gets lulled into choosing either Terrence Williams or Jonny Flynn (both camp invitees) over English, its roster won't be as complete as it would have been with him.
Williams and Flynn are more athletic and more dynamic than English, but even if they have a good camp, the Pistons shouldn't forget about English's shooting skills and ability to fill an important role in Detroit.
Golden State Warriors: No Regrettable Cuts
Golden State has a full, young roster that's pretty much set, and it probably will carry 15 into the regular season.
Unlike most NBA teams, the Warriors' 15-man roster is practically set in stone. Carlon Brown, Lance Goulbourne, Stefhon Hannah, Rick Jackson and Tarence Kinsey give the Dubs a few live bodies to fill in for drill work and scrimmages. None of these players has any hope of making the roster, barring some unforeseen injury or personnel move.
This Oakland crew should jump into the 2012-13 season with zero uneasiness about its improved lineup.
Houston Rockets: Shaun Livingston
With only $1 million of Houston Rockets guard Shaun Livingston's contract money guaranteed, the veteran would seem like a great candidate for dead-weight discarding.
Kevin McHale has young floor generals Jeremy Lin and Scott Machado whom he wants to groom into NBA mainstays. They're the future, and they might as well play, right?
That's true, and they should play, but that's not a good reason to get rid of Livingston.
In fact, when this ultra-young team is going through a midseason crisis, it's going to wish it had hung onto a seven-year pro like Livingston to guide the new talent.
Indiana Pacers: Sam Young
The Pacers may add one more player to their roster, and if they do, it's going to be either Sundiata Gaines or Sam Young. Both could end up being cut.
If Young ends up being the one rejected by Indiana, the Pacers will lose a terrific defender who would have beefed up their swingman depth chart.
Young's career has consisted of sporadic minutes and unimportant roles with Memphis and Philadelphia. However, his defense cannot be ignored; he could be the extra piece who helps Indiana dominate the swingmen of the Central Division.
Los Angeles Clippers: Ryan Hollins
In order to make the next step in the Western Conference, the Los Angeles Clippers need to improve in the little aspects of the game.
Cutting, demoting or buying out Ryan Hollins would deprive Lob City of a player who can help them out on both ends of the court.
The Clips don't need more ball-handlers or shooters—they need role players who find the right spot, keep the offensive sets moving and make high-percentage looks.
Ryan Hollins fits that bill. Leaving the team with just DeAndre Jordan and Ronny Turiaf at center is an unsettling proposition.
Los Angeles Lakers: Chris Douglas-Roberts
A half-dozen players will compete for the Los Angeles Lakers' final spot, which means five will leave camp disappointed.
But the Lakers also will be disappointed in their decision to part ways with guard/forward Chris Douglas-Roberts.
In the grand scheme of things, the addition or subtraction of CDR may not tip the scales in Los Angeles' championship quest, but he is a role player the Lakers will wish they had in 2012-13 and beyond.
Douglas-Roberts has been extremely consistent minute-for-minute in his three NBA seasons. He's always scored around 13.5 points per 36 minutes, and he's improved his long-range shooting and defense.
Memphis Grizzlies: Ronald "Flip" Murray
If you think Chris Douglas-Roberts is consistent, have a look at Ronald "Flip" Murray's career resume.
Memphis' veteran training camp invitee has lost much of the notoriety he gained while excelling for Detroit and Indiana years ago, but his production didn't drop off in the next couple years.
The Grizzlies have a solid roster, but losing Murray means losing a reserve who's guaranteed to have a favorable assist-to-turnover ratio and, if given a consistently modest parcel of time, post decent scoring numbers.
Miami Heat: Garrett Temple
A massive portion of playing time for the Miami Heat is already spoken for, and the remaining playing time in question will be fought over by a handful of post players.
Lost in the preseason roster structuring will be 26-year-old guard Garrett Temple. He spent the 2011-12 season playing in Italy, and prior to that, he played for five NBA teams in two seasons.
See past the journeyman status, and look at a player who's highly productive when given the opportunity.
Temple was a useful reserve from 2009-11, particularly with playoff teams San Antonio and Chicago. He fared poorly with non-playoff teams Sacramento, Houston and Milwaukee.
Temple is now fighting for a spot on a top-heavy Miami squad. Cutting him might be a necessary part of the process, but shooting guard depth issues later in the season will make the Heat realize what they're missing.
Milwaukee Bucks: No Regrettable Cuts
Scott Skiles' re-tooling Milwaukee Bucks club won't be releasing anyone who could've helped them out in 2011-12.
The franchise has four non-guaranteed signees participating in training camp: Eddie Gill, Orien Greene, Mustapha Farrakhan and Alando Tucker.
With all due respect to these competitors, they can't rival any of the players on Milwaukee's mediocre roster, and they wouldn't even have contributed marginally to the team's performance.
Minnesota Timberwolves: Jermaine Taylor
Minnesota invited a slew of players to camp this fall, but most of them won't be suiting up for the duration of the 2012-13 campaign.
It's unfortunate that Jermaine Taylor probably will be among the group sent packing, because he's a reliable reserve shooting guard who has a track record of production during his limited court opportunities.
Taylor is a career 44 percent shooter from the field and can fill up the hoop consistently from inside the arc. There won't be any room for him on the roster, but Rick Adelman and Co. will wish they could keep the young guard in the event of a Brandon Roy injury lapse or Malcolm Lee washout.
New Orleans Hornets: Lance Thomas
Lance Thomas never will be the featured player in any NBA offense, but he's still a valuable commodity to have because he converts when he's called on and can guard multiple positions.
Thomas played in the D-League for the entire 2010-11 season, but then made a successful transition to the big stage, where he played 60-plus games for the Hornets.
Thomas' time in the NBADL drastically improved his skills on both sides of the ball and especially improved his free-throw shooting. He made the most of the fouls he drew in 2011-12, making 84 percent of his free tosses.
New Orleans will miss a great multipurpose reserve if it doesn't hang onto Thomas.
New York Knicks: Henry Sims
Yes, the New York Knicks have six post players in training camp, and they can't keep all of them.
Assuming that everyone stays healthy, Georgetown product Henry Sims will be left off the regular-season roster due to his inexperience compared to the others'.
Tyson Chandler, Amar'e Stoudemire and Marcus Camby are locks. Kurt Thomas and Rasheed Wallace are well-known veterans who have much higher status than Sims.
But Sims has something none of those five have: youth and good health.
If the Knicks find themselves hobbled and aging in the middle of the season, they'll regret releasing Sims.
Oklahoma City Thunder: Andy Rautins
Beyond the Big Three, the Oklahoma City Thunder aren't too deep in the backcourt.
Andy Rautins has minimal NBA experience, but he's a polished wing who can shoot, facilitate and has great instincts on defense. He sat the bench in New York in 2010-11, then was traded to the Mavericks, cut and wound up overseas, where he excelled in Spain.
Rautins hasn't seen any consistent playing time in the NBA since he was drafted in June 2010, but he has the height, quick release and court awareness to thrive as a reserve.
OKC general manager Sam Presti should take note.
Orlando Magic: Gustavo Ayon
The Magic will need all the help they can muster in 2012-13 as they embark on the post-Dwight era.
Cutting the least-promising post player is a bad idea, especially when that player is Gustavo Ayon.
Ayon can help fill the void in the middle, and not just by rebounding and scoring. Compared to most young pivot men, Ayon has above-average court sense. He can pass well for a big man, and he also can read the passing lanes on defense.
His 2011-12 offensive rating: 110. Defensive rating: 100. PER: 16.7.
Cut him at your own risk, Orlando.
Philadelphia 76ers: Xavier Silas
Philadelphia's one regrettable cut may have happened already.
In this video that was recorded before the 2011 NBA draft, Silas explains his value to the NBA and how he can help teams on both ends of the floor.
He can guard the 1, 2 and 3 positions while serving as a scoring point guard on offense. If Maalik Wayns doesn't work out as the third-string point guard, Philly will wish it gave Silas more of a chance.
Phoenix Suns: P.J. Tucker
If the Suns pass on Ike Diogu, then he would be their most regrettable cut.
However, he's likely to make the team due to the thin frontcourt, so P.J. Tucker may get the boot, which would be a shame.
Why? Because Tucker is on the verge of reclaiming his NBA career after five years overseas.
Tucker turned around almost every foreign team he played on, and won an MVP trophy and league championship in Israel.
Phoenix's shooting guard depth won't be as solid without him.
Portland Trail Blazers: Adam Morrison
The word need is a strong word. Portland does not need Adam Morrison.
In fact, the Trail Blazers may miss the playoffs regardless of how they tinker with the preseason roster.
However, they would become a better team in 2012-13 and in the future if they don't cut Morrison. The hugely disappointing former lottery pick doesn't have a terrific personal NBA resume, but he does have experience from playing in a winning culture (two seasons with the Lakers).
That experience would benefit the young talent of the Portland roster every night.
Sacramento Kings: No Regrettable Cuts
Even though they're a middle-to-below-average Western Conference team, the Sacramento Kings have a roster of at least 14 players who will contribute to some extent.
Keith Smart and the Kings brass aren't going to cut anyone who couldn't possibly chip in for them. They have a healthy guard competition, a capable group of swingmen and a promising line of young post players.
No one on the roster is elite, but it's a balanced group of B-level players.
San Antonio Spurs: Derrick Brown
If Derrick Brown loses out on the battle for the final spot on the San Antonio Spurs roster, Gregg Popovich will be missing out on an athlete who brings a little bit of everything to the table.
Brown's energy has allowed him to consistently get high-percentage looks and rebounds. His instincts and good hands serve him well on the offensive glass and also on the defensive end where he's gobbled up 89 steals in just three seasons.
The Spurs had better keep him, or else he'll give their swingmen trouble later on in the season.
Toronto Raptors: Dominic McGuire
His first few seasons in the NBA were rocky, but over the last couple campaigns, Dominic McGuire has become a dependable bench player.
Out of all of Toronto's bubble roster choices, the 6'9" power forward is the best contributor at both ends of the court, especially on the boards.
He would be the one the Raptors would regret cutting, simply because he adds depth to the team in several phases of the game.
Utah Jazz: Chris Quinn
Even if Utah determines that the current cast led by Mo Williams will suffice at point guard in 2012-13, it will regret not retaining preseason participant Chris Quinn.
Unlike almost every other Jazz guard, Quinn is a pass-first point guard who has experience as a backup. A lot of times teams employ backups who serve as combo guards, and because of the dual responsibilities of scoring and facilitating, the overall efficiency of the offense suffers.
Having a player such as Quinn on the squad would help things run smoothly when Williams is on the bench. Quinn won't dazzle and drop show-stopping dimes, but he will keep the offense running and will get the ball in the hands of guys like Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson.
Washington Wizards: Shelvin Mack
With John Wall's knee injury keeping him out for the first few weeks of the season, the Washington Wizards' point guard duties are suddenly the most pressing situation for the franchise.
It's a three-way battle between Jannero Pargo, A.J. Price and Shelvin Mack for playing time, and one of them might even find his way off the roster when the dust settles.
Mack may get cut because he has the least experience and NBA productivity of the three, but it would be a move Washington would want to undo. Mack posted a 3-1 assist-to-turnover ratio in his rookie year, and he's undoubtedly a better shooter than his poor percentages would indicate.
It would be prudent to keep Mack around and develop him—not cast him aside for temporary gain.
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