Are they diamonds in the rough -- or simply journeymen, the six players who've knocked around the NBA and now find themselves in Brooklyn, with something to prove.
Wayne Ellington, Donald Sloan, Thomas Robinson, Shane Larkin, Quincy Miller and Willie Reed have been with as many teams as the number of years they've been in the league.
This is Ellington's seventh season in the NBA and he's played for or been the property of seven teams -- Minnesota, Cleveland, Memphis, Dallas, New York, Los Angeles and Brooklyn. Sloan's number is five teams -- Atlanta, New Orleans (twice), Cleveland, Indiana and Brooklyn -- in five years. For Robinson, it's five teams -- Sacramento, Houston, Portland, Denver, Philadelphia and Brooklyn -- in four years. Miller's been with four teams -- Denver, Sacramento, Detroit and Brooklyn -- in his four years. Larkin? Three teams -- Dallas, New York and Brooklyn -- in three years ... unless you count his Draft Night 2014 trade from Atlanta to Dallas.
Reed has a special place. This is his third NBA team --Memphis, Sacramento and Brooklyn (twice) -- in the last three years, but has yet to play a minute of NBA action. His basketball history goes well beyond that. He's played for D-League teams in Springfield, Des Moines, Reno and Grand Rapids, spent time in Eilat, Israel; Girona, Spain; and Santiago in the Dominican Republic. There were summer league stints with Sacramento, Memphis and Indiana in the past and with Miami and Brooklyn this summer . He's also spent time in training camps with Sacramento, Memphis and Brooklyn before being cut..
In their defense, most of these young journeyman have done well enough when given opportunities, particularly last season (when admittedly they played on lottery teams).
--After Robinson was waived by Denver following the trade deadline last year, then sought by Brooklyn before being picked up by Philadelphia, he played well for the 76ers, averaging 8.8 points and 7.7 rebounds over 18 games, the best stretch of his career.
--Ellington filled in well in L.A., after the Lakers were devastated with injuries, averaging 10.4 points a game and shooting 37 percent from deep.
--Same with Sloan, who became the emergency starter in Indiana early last season and averaged 12 points and five assists in 32 minutes during October and November, with games of 29 and 7 and 31 and 5.
--Larkin, who admits being a square peg in round hole in Phil Jackson's triangle, did lead the Knicks in minutes last season.
So why are they bouncing around? Lots of reasons. Ellington and Sloan have been seen as specialists. Robinson's consistency has been challenged. Miller is a tweener. Larkin was hurt one year, stuck with a bad team the next. Reed was pigeon-holed as a good D-League player (although a very good D-League player.) None are particularly great defenders, although Robinson and Reed have their moments.
The Nets haven't invested much in them. Ellington and Larkin have two-year, $3 million deals, with player options in the second year. Robinson has a two-year vets minimum deal that won't even top $2 million total. Miller is working off a $50,000 guarantee and Reed was given a $500,000 guarantee. And none are that old. Larkin just turned 23, Robinson is 24; Reed 25 and Miller still only 22. Sloan and Ellington are 27.
Good investment? Billy King has to hope that T-Rob's mantra works for all (or some) of them. "All I need is minutes, man," he repeatedly told NetsDaily on Media Day. Of course, the question is how many will play well when given those minutes this year ... and how many will still be seen as journeymen come April?