'Lockout league' rosters under scrutiny


'Lockout league' rosters under scrutiny

By A. Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com Celtics Insider
Follow @sherrodbcsn LAS VEGAS With a slew of logistical issues to hammer out in time for today's first game of the Impact Basketball Training Series, putting the actual rosters together was one of the bigger hurdles to overcome.

NBA players know their brethren better than anyone.

"Don't kid yourself if you didn't think we got some complaints about the roster," Joe Abunassar, the founder of Impact Basketball, told CSNNE.com.

Abunassar did solicit input from the players, but ultimately made the final decision on the rosters.

As expected, there were certain players in higher demand than others.

Most of the teams wanted to make sure they had solid point guard play, which is why former Celtics guard Chauncey Billups and Houston guard Kyle Lowry were among the players teams had the most interest in.

That interest played a factor in Abunassar's decision, but he said he was more concerned with having each team have a certain amount of balance.

"We have to have matchups. If we're really making this a training league, it's all about the matchups," Abunassar said.

Abunassar added, "Kawhi Leonard (a first-round pick out of San Diego State from June's NBA draft) will get a chance to guard a guy like Stephen Jackson, or a guy who has been in the league two or three years. For him, it's an upgraded summer league."

Former Celtics guard Damon Jones, among the first players at Impact Basketball League Monday morning, likes the competitive balance of the league.

"Every team has good players," he told CSNNE.com. "It'll be a good time, good basketball for all of us."

Abunassar must also deal with rosters that are constantly in a state of uncertainty.

For example, Phoenix Suns forward Hakim Warrick isn't expected to play tonight so Abunassar has to find another power forward to take his place on the roster.

Plus, there are other players who aren't expected to come in until next week, while others are re-vamping their schedules to come in this week which means Abunassar has to make sure to put them on a roster where their position is needed.

However, there were some players who made putting the teams together easy.

Mo Williams, now with the Los Angeles Clippers, has put together a team that consists of his Clipper teammates -- including rookie of the Year, Blake Griffin.

The Washington Wizards have a number of players competing here as well, such as Rashard Lewis, Nick Young and Jordan Crawford.

There's a reason why NBA commissioner David Stern doesn't double-dip as the league's schedule maker. But Abunassar isn't complaining; not at all.

"The team selection was not the easiest in the world," Abunassar admitted. "Believe me, after dealing with 75 guys for the last two days and coordinating, I'll need a vacation when we're all done."

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached at sblakely@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn

Did Suns ask Josh Jackson to cancel his Celtics workout to keep him from Boston?

Did Suns ask Josh Jackson to cancel his Celtics workout to keep him from Boston?

Danny Ainge made no secret of being miffed when Kansas small forward Josh Jackson canceled his workout with the Celtics in Sacramento at the last minute. 

The Celtics, of course, passed on Jackson and selected Jayson Tatum of Duke with the third overall pick in the NBA Draft on Thursday night.

Suns GM Ryan McDonough's comments at Jackson's introductory press conference lend some credence to the theory that the canceled workout was part of Phoenix's plan to keep the Celtics from selecting Jackson and leave him for the Suns at No. 4.

Check out this portion of Jackson's presser via a tweet from Mike McClune of KPHO-TV: 

"I think you guys who know me well know how competitive I am. Look, it is a competition," said McDonough, a former assistant GM to Ainge with the C's "The Celtics were ahead of us at No. 3 and they could have selected whoever they wanted to. I think they got a very good player in Jayson Tatum, but that doesn’t mean B.J. [Armstrong, Jackson's agent] and I and...other members of my staff couldn’t talk and try to formulate the best plan to get a player we were really high on to a place we felt he really wanted to go and would be a great fit for him.

"We played by the rules – I guess,” McDonough said to some laughter in the room.

Jackson will certainly get more playing time with the rebuilding Suns that the contending Celtics. Ainge called Jackson "a terrific kid and a good player” after the draft, and said the Celtics were set on Tatum all along, even if they hadn't traded the No. 1 pick.

Jackson said his decision to blow off Ainge coach Brad Stevens and assistant GM Mike Zarren after their cross-country flight was "last-minute" and his plans to work out "just didn't work out."

BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Is trading for Paul George worth the risk?


BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Is trading for Paul George worth the risk?

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0:41 - Michael Holley, Kayce Smith and Tom Giles recap their thoughts on drafting Jayson Tatum and trade rumors involving the Celtics.

6:21 - Ian Thomsen joins BST to discuss if it would be worth trading for Paul George as a one-year rental and if there would be a chance he could still around long-term if traded to Boston.

11:13 - Evan Drellich joins BST to talk about Rick Porcello’s outing, the Red Sox offense coming to life, and Doug Fister being claimed by the Red Sox. 

15:10 - Kyle Draper and A. Sherrod Blakely look back at the Celtics/Nets trade, what the assets have turned into, and if Danny Ainge has done a good job turning those assets into players.