Training camp revivals: 10 players trying to resurrect their careers in 2013-14
Renaldo Balkman, F, Dallas Mavericks
Claim to fame: Energy and defense were Balkman’s calling cards in the NBA from 2006-12, but he’s probably best known for being the surprise, much-mocked No. 20 pick by then-Knicks president Isiah Thomas in 2006 and for an incident in the Philippine Basketball Association last season. Although the swingman averaged 25 points and 13.4 rebounds in the PBA, he’s better remembered for going berserk in the middle of a game and choking a teammate.
Roster chances: Dallas is already well stocked on the wing with Shawn Marion, Jae Crowder and Vince Carter, and the best parts of Balkman’s game — scrappy defense and rebounding — would be redundant mixed in with that group. Balkman, 29, is back on the NBA radar after being out of the league for a year, but he’s unlikely to catch on in Dallas.
Fab Melo, C, Dallas Mavericks
Claim to fame: Shot blockers with potential are rare, but the Celtics parted with the 2012 first-round pick after just 14 months. After a brief, bizarre stint in Memphis, the Grizzlies cut Melo to save money, enabling the Mavericks to sign the 23-year-old center.
Roster chances: Melo, 23, may have the most untapped potential among the four centers on the Mavericks’ roster — 32-year-old Sam Dalembert and the undersized DeJuan Blair and Bernard James are the others — but can he prove that he can contribute enough in 2013-14 for the playoff-hopeful Mavericks to keep him around? A more likely scenario is the D-League, but Melo is an intriguing prospect worth keeping an eye on (he averaged a D-League-leading 3.1 blocks for the Maine Red Claws last season).
Cole Aldrich, C, New York Knicks
Claim to fame: The 11th pick in 2010 has already been traded three times (including once on draft night) and played for Oklahoma City, Houston and Sacramento. With the former Kansas standout having averaged only 7.9 minutes for his career, we’ve yet to see what he can really do besides occupy space.
Roster chances: The Knicks need a center and Aldrich could be their guy. Jeremy Tyler broke his foot earlier this month and likely won’t be able to return until November. Andrea Bargnani is a center with an allergy to the paint. Amar’e Stoudemire recently had his third knee surgery in a year. And Kenyon Martin is better suited to play power forward. Aldrich has his work cut out for him on a deep training camp roster, but the opportunity is there.
Xavier Henry, G/F, Los Angeles Lakers
Claim to fame: Henry looked like Paul Pierce 2.0 coming out of Kansas, but the 2010 lottery pick’s rookie flop was so mighty that the Grizzlies gave up on him after one year and traded him to the Pelicans. Two seasons of sparse production didn’t give New Orleans a reason to keep him around, leading to a D-League demotion and the decision to not pick up his option.
Roster chances: With Kobe Bryant recovering and Metta World Peace gone, the Lakers’ cupboard is empty on the wing. Henry will compete with the likes of Shawne Williams, Elias Harris, Marcus Landry and Ryan Kelly on a Lakers team with 11 players with fully guaranteed contracts.
Patrick O’Bryant, C, Charlotte Bobcats
Claim to fame: O’Bryant, 27, was the first lottery pick ever sent down to the D-League, in 2006 by Golden State. After cups of coffee with the Celtics and Raptors, O’Bryant played in China, Greece, Puerto Rico and Lithuania.
Roster chances: With the addition of Al Jefferson and Cody Zeller to go with Bismack Biyombo and Josh McRoberts, Charlotte’s frontcourt rotation is pretty set. That said, NBA teams can always make room for a 7-footer with talent. If O’Bryant has a strong camp, he’ll get a shot. If not, well, he’ll likely get to see another country.
Honorable mention: Ike Diogu (Knicks), Lou Amundson (Clippers), Dahntay Jones (Bulls), Roger Mason Jr. (Heat), Darnell Jackson (Pacers).