Just when you thought the D-League couldn’t possibly add any more veteran NBA free-agents to their rosters, along comes Rafer Alston.
According to Marc Stein of ESPN, the 35-year old point guard is ready to make his comeback and could sign with a team in the D-League as soon as Friday.
But is Alston really ready to “Skip” back into the NBA and make a return run through the D-League in order to get there?
Over his 11-year career, the streetball legend known as “Skip To My Lou” played for the Idaho Stampede during their CBA days, Milwaukee Bucks, the defunct Mobile Revelers of the D-League, Toronto Raptors, Miami Heat, Houston Rockets, Orlando Magic, before a tumultuous exit back with the Heat during the 2009-10 season.
While splitting the season between the Nets and Heat his last year in the league, Alston averaged 6.6 points, 2.2 rebounds, and 2.9 assists per game in 25 games before being suspended indefinitely for missing a practice and a game. The suspension ran through the rest of the regular season and the following year Alston signed overseas with Zhejiang Guangsha of the Chinese Basketball Association.
That stint ended just as poorly.
Zhejiang Guangsha and Alston split ways after the point guard unexpectedly returned home to the US (following a game where he sustained an injury and refused treatment) during the season to reportedly attend the funeral of a close friend. Alston told the team he intended to return to China, but suspecting Alston had alternative intentions Zhejiang Chouzhou opted to cancel his contract instead.
Last May, Alston took on a new basketball role when he accepted the head coaching position at Christian Life Academy, a high school in Humble, Texas — the alma mater of Los Angeles Clippers center DeAndre Jordan.
“I’ve had a good career, long career, 11 years,” Alston said at the time. “I had fun. I can’t complain about my NBA career. It’s been wonderful.”
It’s also not over, at least not yet.
In the NBA, Alston has played in 671 games and scored 6,799 points, averaging 10.1 points, 2.8 rebounds, and 4.8 assists per game and now he’s hopeful he can add to those numbers by inking a D-League deal and keeping the dream alive.
It’s worked for some but not others.
The Chicago Bulls called-up veteran point guard Mike James from the Erie Bayhawks on January, 12 and a week after he signed in the D-League. The Bulls were concerned enough about Derrick Rose’s injured toe, that GM Gar Forman attended the D-League Showcase in Reno earlier this month and walked away with a new point guard. The 36-year old James spent last season in China and Turkey before entering his name in the D-League with a long list that included Ricky Davis, Damon Jones, and Greg Ostertag.
Ostertag and Davis weren’t so lucky.
A little over a week ago, the 38-year old Ostertag decided to retire for good after knee troubles got the best of him and last Friday, Davis’ D-League career came to a quick close after the Maine Red Claws waived the 32-year old guard.
There are no NBA guarantees for Alston, but it sounds like he will at least get his shot in the D-League.
Hopefully for Alston this situation ends better than his last season in Miami and time overseas in China.