Andre Emmett, Jared Reiner, Antywane Robinson, Cory Undwerwood and Maureece Rice are the extra guys, the fringe free agents the 76ers signed to fill out their training camp and preseason practice roster. In the course of preparing for the regular season, there's not a lot of time for coach Maurice Cheeks to closely monitor all of them. He notices things from time to time, but even with an available roster spot, one of them would have to be particularly impressive to stick. The thing is, they all know that when they agree to come. Some of them have been through the process several times, only to land in Europe or the NBA Development League or the Continental Basketball Association. Some of them have even logged time in the NBA. They can't turn away from their ultimate goal. They keep coming back.
Take Andre Emmett. The 6-4 guard has been through summer league schedules since 2004 with the Memphis Grizzlies, the Miami Heat, the Seattle SuperSonics, the Houston Rockets and the Indiana Pacers. He's played in Lithuania. He led the Belgian League in scoring last season. He even played in 8 games with the Grizzlies in '04-05. He's been to two previous camps, with the Grizzlies and the Heat. He survived a career under Bobby Knight, becoming the all-time leading scorer at Texas Tech, the first player ever to make the All-Big 12 Conference first team three seasons in succession.
Cheeks noticed enough to say Emmett ''knows how to play,'' a compliment he does not hand out easily.
''Training camp has been training camp for however many years it''s been around,'' Emmett said philosophically. ''You've got to do what you've got to do within the time you have. I was around Bobby Knight, and the very next year I was around Hubie Brown, and every now and then I'd get some points from Jerry West. Then there was Pat Riley and (Stan) Van Gundy. In Europe, I played for one of the best coaches over there. Now, I have Elton (Brand) and Theo Ratliff helping me. I understand the situation. I play hard, I play tough, try and be a defensive presence, learn the Sixers concepts, try and move up the ladder.''
That would be a big jump. Emmett knows about big jumps. He won the dunk contest during the NCAA Final Four in San Antonio in '04. He did it by jumping over 6 kids.
''I had a cousin from Southern Illinois in the contest, and I was going to jump over him for my last dunk,'' Emmett recalled, smiling. ''The guy before me did the same thing. I had to come up with something really quick. I took 6 kids, told them to stand in the middle of the lane. My adrenaline was rushing. I was pumped up, the crowd was behind me. I just did it. It's always good to win.''
Thinking Out Loud:
If gambling is such an issue in the Pedowitz Report, if the league is so meticulous in what the young players are told during the Rookie Transition program, why is the summer league based in Las Vegas?
A regular emailer said he was concerned whether Theo Ratliff and Donyell Marshall, at 35, could make it through the grind of the season and how much that might affect the team's seeming depth. My response: The spare big guys last season were Shavlik Randolph, coming off a major ankle injury, and Louis Amundson, an energy guy who struggles to score. Any questions?