Motley Crew

by Matt Caputo

If experience is more valuable to NBA teams than a young player’s potential is, then the signings of the last two weeks do nothing but support that claim. The NBA has dusted off a few old names in an effort to boost some troubled clubs. Oddly enough, the players signed seem to barely be able to help themselves.

With that, SLAM takes a closer look at the situations in which these old pros have found themselves.

Darius Miles (Grizzlies) – Just when it seemed like Darius Miles (once of SI and SLAM cover fame) would fade in “Bolivian” as Mike Tyson once put it, Miles’ agent found someone desperate and dehydrated enough to drink the cool aide. The now 27-year-old high school phenomenon signed with the Memphis Grizzlies on Dec. 13, but must sit out 10 games because he’s violated the NBA Substance Abuse Policy. Again.
Miles: Age 20
Miles’ situation is unique. If he plays in a minimum of 10 games for Memphis, the Blazers will be forced to add Miles’ $9.3 million salary to their current salary cap, as well as his salary next season, costing the team $18 million in cap room over the next two years.

Steve Francis (Grizzlies) – Before his knees gave up on him, Steve Francis was a beast. His early NBA numbers have never lied. But after nine years in the League, it’s would hard to see Stevie “Franchise” making any kind of impact on Memphis’ doomed season. Though he was never officially out of the League, it’s hard to argue that he’s been much of a factor for a long time.

The Rockets traded the inactive Francis to Memphis on Christmas Eve along with an ‘09 draft pick that Houston had previously received from the Grizzlies for a conditional pick in 2011. The move allows Houston to drop under the luxury tax threshold. They can now sign another player if they want.

Fred Jones (Clippers) – Jones, the former Slam Dunk Champ, is back in the NBA after spending last season with the Knicks where, to his credit, he accounted for some solid relief minutes. Originally taken by Zeke Thomas and the Indiana Pacers with the 14th pick of the 2002 NBA draft, Jones seemed to be a long shot from being back in the League. Signing with the Clippers brings Jones to his fifth team in seven seasons. He joins a Clips team where he’ll have to compete with four other guys for playing time at his spot. It’s safe to say he’ll be just visiting L.A.Young All-Star

Juwan Howard (Bobcats) – Juwan Howard made a cameo appearance in Hoop Dreams in 1994. After failing to make the Nuggets roster in training camp, he’s signed to play in his 15th NBA season. With a record of 11-20, the Bobcats can’t be betting too much money on the 35-year-old Howard’s contribution. Look for Howard to provide some quality leadership and little else.

Dee Brown (Phoenix) – Those who thought Dee Brown’s NBA career was over when he spent last season in Turkey and dropped a hip-hop single were stupid. Record sales being what they are, Dee needed to shift his focus back to playing basketball for a living. The Wizards picked him up to start this season, but released him in early December to make room for Mike James and Jarvis Crittenton. Shortly after that, he signed with the Suns and resumed the season. Although we’re glad he gave up on rapping, being Steve Nash’s back-up isn’t any kind of stable alternative.