Louisville went for years without a solid presence in the NBA, but things appear to be on the up-tick for the Cards. There are currently four former Cardinals in the league. None will make a particularly big impact, but will for the most part have lengthy careers playing for David Stern. Here’s how they did:
Terrence Williams – G/F #55 – Sacramento Kings
If you look in the dictionary next to the word “Enigma,” you’ll find a picture of Terrence Williams showing off a goofy smile. T-Will has shown sporadic flashes of greatness throughout his NBA career, but the more common trend has been his inability to mesh with his coaching staff. He closed out his rookie season with a bang. He averaged 14 points, 7 rebouds, and 5 assists over the final six weeks of his inaugural year, which included a triple-double against Derrick Rose and the Bulls and earned him Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month honors. He was a popular pick to have a breakout sophomore season on a team that needed him to become an impact player.
Instead, he simply couldn’t see eye to eye with new head coach Avery Johnson, who replaced Kiki Vandegwhe. He grabbed decent minutes in the first several games of the season, but quickly became a fixture on the bench before being relegated to the D-League (where he averaged a triple-double) and traded to Houston. Things didn’t get much better in Clutch City. He played in only 23 of his 103 games as a Rocket. He posted 15+ minutes in 6 of those games before being cut in mid-March. He was definitely getting picked up by someone. But who was going to take a chance on a guy that completely blew it in his first two NBA cities?
Enter the Sacramento Kings, who signed him to a 10-day contract. The Kings’ season was long over, so they had plenty of minutes to let him showcase his abilities. He took advantage right away, and was quickly signed for the rest of the year. He has played the 1, 2, and 3 for the Kings since he’s been there, and has actually spent most of his time bringing the ball up the court. He is beginning to look like the T-Will of his rookie season, which is great to see. He has averaged 9 points, 4 boards, and 3 assists in 22 minutes of primarily reserve play. He is still as flashy as ever, and he will make a highlight out of the simplest pass. He seems to be pulling it together, and things are looking up for T-Will to become a factor in the NBA. When given the minutes, he is one of the most fun players to watch in the league. Hopefully for T-Willy, he can get those minutes.
Slam Jam Bam
Beast Mode on Phoenix
Francisco Garcia – SF #32 – Sacramento Kings
Cisco Da Kid finished up his sixth season in the league, and the wily vet is entering the twilight of his career. Garcia was set up for a career year in 2009-10, but broke his arm during a freak weight lifting accident. Since that time, he has been unable to provide a huge impact on the Kings, where he’s been his entire career. This year, he provided spot bench minutes, getting 16 minutes a game. Unfortunately, the Kings are terrible, and he just isn’t the player he was a few years ago. He averaged his lowest total of his career, notching only 4.8 points per game. Garcia should have a place in the league for a few more years, but his time is definitely winding down.
Here’s Da Kid puttin a sky whoopin on Kobe
Earl Clark – PF #3 – Orlando Magic
Earl has struggled to find an identity as he closes out his third year as a pro. He played in 45 games for the Magic this year, but was able to grab some valuable minutes toward the season’s end due mainly to Dwight Howard’s injury. This gave him 20 minutes a game in April, where he was only able to manage 5 points and 4 rebounds a game during that time. He did record his first career double-double, scoring 14 points and 11 rebounds against Philadelphia on April 16th. Still, Clark’s days might be numbered in the NBA. He hasn’t been able to prove that he can give much value to a team. He has only scored in double figures 10 times in three years, and the only time he has notched double digit rebounds was in the aforementioned game against Philadelphia two weeks ago. At this point, I’d give Earl a 50-50 chance of getting another contract in the NBA. He might be better suited to head to Europe where he can get more playing time and likely make more money.
Samardo Samuels – PF #24 – Cleveland Cavaliers
Samardo puzzled everyone when he left after his sophomore season to go pro. His family certainly needed financial assistance, but he clearly was not ready to go against NBA competition. Draft scouts agreed, and the Jamaican big man was picked up as a free agent by Cleveland after going undrafted. He surprised people last year when he had 8 straight games in double figure scoring and was playing inspired basketball.
Going into the offseason, Cavs fans had right to be somewhat optimistic about his play, but he fell of a bit to start the season. After being unable to locate his passport, he was not allowed to travel with the team to Toronto for an early January matchup. This came on top of him being a bit out of shape, which put him in coach Byron Scott’s doghouse. He played 36 minutes in the 9 games that followed. He did come around at the end of the season, averaging 7 points and 4 boards in 18 MPG in April. I’m a bit more optimistic about Samardo’s future in the league than Earl’s, but he needs to put in some work this offseason. He will hang around a few more years, but unfortunately I don’t think he has the athleticism to defend or rebound over the 4 in the NBA.
He looks awesome in this mix from last year though!