Inside the D-League

Inside the D-League
Nov 23, 2007, 06:52 pm
Marcus Williams Released Due to Injury

Rookie guard/forward Marcus Williams of the Austin Toros has been waived due to injury. The 2007 Spurs’ draft pick was waived a day before the start to the pre-season. Since he was released because of an injury, Williams’ rights still belong to the Toros, and he can be brought back in as soon as he becomes healthy enough to play again. No timetable has been provided for Williams’ return, but he will not be on the roster for the Toros’ first regular season game on November 23rd against Rio Grande Valley.

Livingston, Tatum Injured to Open Season

As reported by the Idaho Statesmen, guards Randy Livingston and Jamaal Tatum will miss the opening game of the season. Tatum will need to recover from a high ankle sprain before making his D-League debut, and Livingston is currently fighting through back pain. This leaves Idaho with just 8 players on their roster to open the season, and hurts their depth in the backcourt. The only healthy guard listed on their roster to open the season is Roberto Bergersen.

Thomas Replaces Eddie Gill, who Joins Nets
The first pick in the D-League draft didn’t even get the chance to play a pre-season game. Instead, he joined the New Jersey nets as the first D-League call-up of the season. Gill has plenty of NBA experience, and the 14ers drafted him with the knowledge that he would likely return to the NBA at some point during the season.

To replace Gill, the 14ers acquired guard Billy Thomas from the available player pool. Thomas can be labeled as a tough, defensive oriented guard who shoots the ball very well, and will provide a nice boost to the backcourt of the 14ers.

It has been a long road for Thomas leading up to his stint in the D-League. After playing part of the season in Serbia with Red Star last season, became upset that he wasn’t getting paid, and decided to leave the team. To retaliate, Red Star has held Thomas hostage by demanding $60,000 for his letter of clearance (a situation that also holds true for former Memphis Grizzles’ guard Antonio Burks). A letter of clearance is necessary for any player transferring to a different club in Europe, so the options for Thomas this season became extremely limited.

NBA Assignments Set Record

A record number of NBA players will open the season on D-League rosters. The following players have been assigned, and are listed with their NBA team and D-League affiliate.

JamesOn Curry, Chicago Bulls/Iowa Energy
Nick Fazekas, Dallas Mavericks/Tulsa 66ers
Kyrylo Fesenko, Utah Jazz/Utah Flash
Ian Mahinmi, San Antonio Spurs/Austin Toros
Marcin Gortat, Orlando Magic, Anaheim Arsenal
Steve Novak, Houston Rockets, Rio Grande Valley Vipers
Kosta Perovic, Golden State Warriors, Bakersfield Jam
Ramon Sessions, Milwaukee Bucks/Tulsa 66ers
Brandon Wallace, Boston Celtics/Utah Flash
Gabe Pruitt, Boston Celtics, Utah Flash

Of the NBA teams assigning players, every team with the exception of San Antonio and Houston has used the D-League in previous seasons. The Utah Flash will open the year with 3 NBA players on their roster, and Tulsa opens the year with 2 NBA send-downs. The Spurs have assigned their first player in Mahinmi after purchasing the Toros over the summer.

Roster Numbers Trimmed

To prepare for the start of the regular season, the D-League teams have trimmed their rosters down to 10 players. Some players have been released due to injury meaning the team will still hold the rights of the player when he becomes healthy. Kelley Whitney and Brandon Dean of Colorado fall into this category. Other players of note who were released include Tiras Wade, Shagari Alleyne, Steven Barber, and Isma'il Muhammed. To see the opening season rosters to start the season, visit the official site of the D-League.

Opening Night Match-ups

To open the season, there will be 5 games across the D-League tonight.

Tulsa 66ers @ Fort Wayne Mad Ants

The 66ers open their season in Fort Wayne, where they will face an expansion team that happens to be loaded with talent. NBA players Nick Fazekas and Ramon Sessions will face a number of wing players who could be called up this season, including Jeremy Richardson and Sammy Mejia. Tulsa must prove they can play together as a team and Fort Wayne must prove they have a capable big man who can play with Larry Turner.

Iowa Energy @ Dakota Wizards

The expansion Energy travel to Bismarck to face the defending champion Wizards. Iowa must prove they can collectively create enough offense as a team, and that they have enough front court depth. The Wizards have one of the best front courts in the league featuring Carlos Powell, Rod Benson, and Kevin Lyde. They have a new coach this season, and will rely on a tandem of point guards starting together in their back-court.

Austin Toros @ Rio Grande Valley Vipers

The Toros open their season in South Texas against the expansion Vipers. The Toros appear to have good roster balance this season, and feature rookie big man Ian Mahinmi from France, who has a load of talent but will have to prove he can stay out of foul trouble. The Vipers are led by first round pick CJ Watson and will have to prove they have the depth up front to compete for the playoffs this season.

Anaheim Arsenal @ Colorado 14ers

The Arseanl open up the season in Colorado against a team that made it to the D-League championship game last season. Anaheim brings in a load of athletic talent, but must learn to play together without a pass-first point guard on the roster. The 14ers, led by big man Elton Brown, must overcome the loss of point guard Eddie Gill to the NBA.

Idaho Stampede @ Albuquerque Thunderbirds

Idaho kicks off their season on the road in Albuquerque tonight. The Stampede bring in a very talented squad with a good balance of skill, hustle and athleticism. They may struggle tonight due to the loss of guards Randy Livingston and Jamaal Tatum to injury. Albuquerque has an entirely new roster this season, and must prove they can perform under rookie head coach Jeff Ruland. Darvin Ham will set the tone with this team bring his veteran experience and energy to the floor.

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