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Friday, Aug. 12, 2011
Annual player movement resembles motion offense
By ED ODEVEN
Continuity, or even a cheap semblance of it, is a rarity in the ever-changing bj-league.
Take Takanori Goya, for example.
The top pick in the 2006 draft, he's played in the bj-league ever since and suited up for the Toyama Grouses, Osaka Evessa, Rizing Fukuoka and Tokyo Apache. He'll be on his fifth team, the expansion Shinshu Brave Warriors this season.
Center Julius Ashby, meanwhile, an All-Star and Final Four participant for three teams, has had his rights relinquished by team No. 3, the Niigata Albirex BB, meaning the talented center is a free agent. He's potentially on the move to a fourth team after a season in which he averaged 16.4 points per game playing for now-departed Masaya Hirose after previous stints with the Takamatsu Five Arrows and Tokyo.
(The Albirex also announced earlier this week that power forward/center Zach Andrews and forward Issa Konare will not be re-signed.)
Nile Murry is another example. The former TCU guard has reached a deal to play for the Albirex. His basketball resume also includes playing stints with the Grouses (2006-07), Osaka (2008-10) and Rizing Fukuoka (2010-11).
The new-look Albirex, now coached by former Niigata and Takamatsu sharpshooter Matt Garrison, signed rookie point guard Dwight Gordon for the upcoming season.
The 180-cm Gordon, who will celebrate his 23rd birthday on Sept. 22, wrapped up his collegiate career at NAIA school Biola University in the spring. Garrison and Sendai 89ers coach Bob Pierce also attended Biola, an institute of higher learning in Southern California.
Gordon appeared in 34 games for Biola in 2010-11, averaging 14.1 points, 4.1 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 30.8 minutes. He went to UC-Riverside, an NCAA school, before transferring to the lower-tier Biola.
In a related development, a league insider told The Japan Times on Wednesday that two-time Best Five point guard Naoto Takushi is in talks with a Western Conference team. The source didn't reveal which team Takushi and his handlers are speaking to, however, given the delicate nature of those negotiations.
To a man, speculation revolves around the Golden Kings, the team Takushi helped win a championship in its second season of existence, or the Shimane Susanoo Magic, who have lost floor leader Takumi Ishizaki to a German team. Every team can use more depth, and Takushi would give Ryukyu another versatile athlete in the backcourt.
Takushi, a former JBL player, has been employed by the Ryukyu Golden Kings, Kyoto Hannaryz and Niigata over the past three seasons.
The veteran point guard is talented and has his admirers, but he's also brought problems on himself, according to longtime league observers. His work ethic and effort in practice and games has been inconsistent, sources have told The Japan Times on several occasions.
Now can a no-nonsense disciplinarian like Susanoo Magic sideline supervisor Zeljko Pavlicevic work well with Takushi?
That remains to be seen. But the former No. 1 pick of the Golden Kings is poised to join his fourth team in as many seasons in the coming weeks. That, in a nutshell, is a crystal-clear view of the league as it begins its seventh season.
More moves: The Evessa have picked up 203-cm forward Lavell Payne, a Central Florida product.
Since turning pro, the 25-year-old Payne has played for teams based in Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, France, Lebanon and, most recently, Syria.
Also this week, the HeatDevils, now guided by retired HeatDevils guard Yukinori Suzuki, signed a pair of imports for this season: ex-UCLA forward T.J. Cummings and post player Zach Atkinson.
The 208-cm Cummings, who'll be 30 on Aug. 31, has played for the NBA Development League's Albuquerque Thunderbirds, Los Angeles D-Fenders, Springfield Armor and Maine Red Claws. He's also suited up for teams in China, South Korea, Belgium and Puerto Rico. His father is former NBA player Terry Cummings.
Atkinson, 25, attended the University of California at Irvine. He played for Dominicas La Palma in Spain last season.
Exhibition blockbuster: The two-time defending champion Hamamatsu Higashimikawa Phoenix and the 2008-09 title-winning Ryukyu Golden Kings will square off on Sept. 24-25 for a two-game preseason series in Okinawa.
It'll be a rematch of last season's title match at Ariake Colosseum on May 22, when Hamamatsu defeated Ryukyu 82-68.