Grimm, Noorgaard, Hudson. Who are these guys?
When it came down to the final cut, some familiar faces were deemed unworthy and some unknowns were judged to be ready for the NBA.
Goodbyes, at least for now, go to Sherman Douglas, Craig Ehlo, Kenny Smith and Ken Norman.
Hellos are extended to Derek Grimm, Jeff Nordgaard and Troy Hudson, as well as Etdrick Bohannon, Donald Whiteside and Chris Garner.
Douglas had a busy October, being traded from Milwaukee to Cleveland, from Cleveland to Denver, and then being waived by the Nuggets. His time out of the league is expected to be brief because the New Jersey Nets are pursuing him to be their backup point guard behind Sam Cassell.
Ehlo’s unproductive stay in Seattle ended Thursday when the SuperSonics decided to eat the final two years of his contract, worth about $860,000.
``We had to make a very difficult decision,″ said team president Wally Walker, who had 16 players under guaranteed contracts.
Ehlo, who played poorly throughout last season and was left off George Karl’s playoff roster, lost his job to Dale Ellis, the NBA leader in career 3-pointers.
Smith, who won two championships with Houston when he started ahead of Cassell, couldn’t earn the spot as Cassell’s backup on the Nets. He reportedly has agreed to join TNT as a studio and game analyst.
Norman, who had two years left on his contract for $6.8 million, was waived by the Hawks on Thursday. One of the few players ever to clash openly with Lenny Wilkens, Norman didn’t even come to camp this fall. According to the New York Post, he could have been traded last week to the Boston Celtics for Dee Brown and a No. 1 draft pick.
Grimm, Noorgaard and their ilk, the Never-Heard-of-’Ems, filled out the 12th spots on several rosters.
Grimm and another undrafted rookie unknown, Michael Stewart, were among four first-year players to make the Sacramento Kings. Grimm, a 6-foot-10 forward from Missouri with 3-point range, made the final cut when first-round pick Olivier Saint-Jean went on the injured list with a strained calf muscle.
Stewart, a forward-center from Cal, got the job because Kevin Salvadori has a sprained left ankle. Sacramento’s fourth rookie is point guard Anthony Johnson from College of Charleston.
Nordgaard, a swingman who played in France last season after graduating from Wisconsin-Green Bay in 1996, made the Milwaukee Bucks when Acie Earl was waived. Earl had been acquired last season in exchange for the Bucks’ No. 1 pick from 1995 _ Shawn Respert.
Hudson, who wasn’t drafted after leaving Southern Illinois following his junior year, beat out veteran Greg Dreiling and second-round pick Nate Erdmann to make the Utah Jazz. A point guard, Hudson gives Utah insurance in case starter Howard Eisley or backup Jacque Vaughn are injured during John Stockton’s absence.
Bohannon, a 6-foot-9 from Auburn-Montgomery, an NAIA school, will be the 12th man for the Pacers until Austin Croshere or Derrick McKey returns from the injured list.
Whiteside, a high school phys ed teacher in Chicago who played 27 games for Toronto last season, made the Atlanta Hawks.
Garner, an undrafted 5-foot-8 rookie from Memphis who went to the same high school as Penny Hardaway, will be the only true backup point guard for the Toronto Raptors.
STREAKS OF GREEN: A.C. Green was set to play in his 897th consecutive game Friday night, moving him within nine games of tying Randy Smith’s NBA record of 906.
Green is due to break the ironman record Nov. 20 against Golden State, and the Mavericks have been hyping the event in recent days. But an interesting thing happened when Green came to New York early last week for an exhibition game against the Knicks.
In a locker room interview, he said the consecutive games streak is not the streak he’s most proud of.
Instead, Green points out his celibacy streak.
Friday marked Green’s 12,446th consecutive day without sex.
``You’ve never met a 34-year-old male virgin? That’s me,″ Green said unapologetically. ``It’s because I’m waiting for marriage before I interact in sexual way with a lady. That’s really the bottom line, it goes along with my beliefs and my respect for myself.″
Green is one of the most religious players in the league, a non-denominational Christian who is the vice president of an athletic ministry. When asked how he has stayed healthy enough to play every game over the past eight seasons, he answers that God is the reason.
His virginity was a source of ribbing from teammates when he was a youngster in the league, but Green says players have come to respect his beliefs rather than poking fun at them.
``My first six weeks in the league, guys said they would give me a six-week window to see if you’re still talking your Christian stuff and staying celibate. We’ll see how long you can withstand the `good stuff’ in the NBA without being corrupted.
``After a year went by, then two years, guys saw I was as seriously committed to my faith as I was to the sport of basketball. I earned their respect.″
With no plans to marry before Nov. 20, Green plans to break one record and continue both streaks.
Which one is most important to him?
``Abstinence, without a question,″ Green said. ``My goal when I started playing basketball in college was to be better known for what I did off the court than for what I did on it. And after all these years, 16 years now, that’s what’s sort of happened.
``I’m very happy about it because the character of the person on the inside is more important than what’s on the outside.″
ALL-PRESEASON TEAM: Before closing the door on the exhibition season, it’s worth a look back at a few players who opened some eyes in the games that didn’t count.
_ Fred Hoiberg, Pacers. The backup shooting guard was given the green light by Larry Bird and responded by leading the league in 3-pointers with 17 and finishing fourth in 33-point accuracy at 57 percent. ``There will always be a place on my team for a guy who shoots like that,″ Bird said.
_ Lawrence Funderburke, Kings. After playing at Indiana, St. Catherine’s (Ky.) Junior College and Ohio State, Funderburke spent two years in the Greek League and one in the French League. With Sacramento, he led the Kings in scoring (13.9 points) and minutes (24.3) during the preseason.
_ Steve Nash, Suns. Phoenix general manager Bryan Colangelo turned down several offers over the summer for Nash, who worked his way into coach Danny Ainge’s nine-man rotation on the strength of a 35-point outburst against Houston and a 20.0 scoring average in four games before sustaining a deep thigh bruise.
_ John Wallace, Raptors. After being traded from New York to Toronto, Wallace shocked his new team with his offensive prowess. He shot 55 percent, was second on the team in scoring (14.0 points) and positioned himself as a possible contender for the Sixth Man award.
_ Ed Gray, Hawks. A rookie from Cal, Gray will take over the job of scorer off the bench previously held by Henry James. He was 5-for-10 on 3-pointers and averaged 12.6 points in only 21 minutes for Atlanta.
REEFER MADNESS: The issue of marijuana use by NBA players has become the first big battleground in what promises to be a season of rhetoric, posturing and propaganda from the league office and the players’ union.
In the battle for public approval, commissioner David Stern has tried to paint himself as the anti-drug crusader fighting a hedonistic union.
In comments last week, Stern charged that the union wouldn’t accept a change in the drug policy unless the league made some sort of monetary concession.
``This is not about punishment and exclusion,″ Stern said a few days after The New York Times reported that marijuana use could be as high as 70 percent among NBA players. ``We’d like to cut down on the use of marijuana, educate and identify the problem.″
Union president Billy Hunter said Stern’s comments were ``unseemly and patently false.″
On the issue of punishment and exclusion, Hunter said the NBA’s most recent drug policy proposal included leaguewide random testing, a five-game suspension for anyone who tests positive or pleads guilty to a marijuana offense and an automatic six-month suspension for a second offense. In addition, anyone caught distributing marijuana would be subject to a lifetime ban.
``We will not allow players to be subjected to increased scrutiny and further economic leverage exerted by the league simply because David Stern seeks to capitalize on recent unsubstantiated media speculation about the habits of NBA players,″ Hunter said.