It’s the offseason. You are bored as hell. Marcus Haislip, however, wants you to hear him out – that he’s not guilty. Guilty of what crime, you ask? Let’s investigate a bit after the jump.
That black uniform looks good.
(Thanks to Tiempo de Magia for the original wallpaper)
It’s been more than a month since the San Antonio Spurs signed Marcus Deshon Haislip, took his 6’10’’, 230-lb. ass out of "custody" from Europe and flew him back to America, presumably to hear his basketball case once more. His mindset right now is the tired old criminal’s tried and tested axiom: "innocent until proven guilty." But is he, really?
#1 - Falsification of college statistics
Marcus Haislip was a Tennessee Volunteer. A Vol, for short. I wonder if I’m going to use "vols" when I ask for volunteers to help me out with a party. "Hey guys, I need some ‘vols’ here." I imagine them giving me the WTF stare. Anyway, let’s take a look at Haislip’s college career:
Basically, how can he suck for two years and then suddenly triple his scoring average in his junior and final season in the NCAA? The strange thing is, in his freshman year the Vols had a 79% (26-7, win-loss) winning percentage. The following season, Marcus’ sophomore year, the team still managed to win a pretty respectable 67% (22-11) of their games. On his last and supposedly best year, Haislip’s team further dropped to a shameful 48% (15-16) winning rate. In other words, the better he got, the worse his team performed. Obviously, that doesn’t sound good. Surely, his third year stats must be wrong?
Marcus, the Volunteer
If you want to look at his teammates, the core of those Tennessee teams revolved around Marcus, perennial leading scorer Vincent Yarbrough – a 2nd rounder who lasted exactly one season in the NBA – and Ron Slay – undrafted. What do they all have in common? All three have played or are currently playing overseas. Yay, so much for the program.
Of the three, the scouts obviously were drooling over Haislip, the one with the "NBA body", incredible hops, freakish athleticism, admirable work ethic, blah blah blah. Close to seventeen points per game. Wow, I’m blown away. Somebody pinch me, I’m about to draft a star. And then it all comes crashing down. Ball don’t lie, but the college statistics lie.
The case for Mr. Haislip: It’s hard to fault someone if he did improve every year that he spent in college. SEC’s coaches also vouched for Marcus in his junior season by voting him 2nd team All-SEC, and the Associated Press put him on its 3rd team. Haislip also ranked among the top ten SEC leaders in six – yeah count that again, S-I-X – different categories. He was damn hell Mr. Fantasy Basketball in college. Just for kicks, he also happens to own the highest vertical jump in that Tennessee team. Check out his 40-inch vertical leap and dunk collection. (also make sure to check out this un-embed-able video of Marcus' top ten plays. Spectaculectriying)
The Euroleague: Where... uh, amazing? - happens!
#2 – 3 seasons of NBA mediocrity
So the Milwaukee Bucks, like many teams before and after it, chose to be deluded with athleticism and took Marcus with the 13th pick. He joined a slew of Bucks forwards then such as Toni Kukoc, Desmond Mason and Tim Thomas. Haislip actually got off to a good start, having a virtuoso Belinelli-esque (or should I change that to Anthony Randolph-esque?) performance in the Summer League. For that, he gets a special Chad Ford ESPN kiss-ass moment, or to borrow jollyrogerwilco’s terms, a CTU:
Haislip, a raw 6-foot-10, power forward from Tennessee, got high marks for his athleticism, NBA body and a good work ethic. Rumors that he could bench press 400 pounds sent his stock soaring and some draft experts saw Haislip as the Bucks' answer to their problems at the four spot, albeit two or three years down the road. But what the Bucks have unearthed in the summer leagues is a very different player -- a slashing, small forward who plays great defense on the perimeter and sinks the NBA 3-pointer effortlessly.
On Wednesday, Haislip rained down six 3-pointers on the Hawks' DerMarr Johnson and showed surprising poise for a kid that wasn't supposed to be ready for prime time. He ended the game with 21 points, including one fabulous dunk. The thunderous dunks we expected, but the 3-point shooting?
It gets better. Grunfeld swears that Haislip's post-up game is even better than his perimeter one. Eventually, Haislip may turn into the new, prototypical four. He has the strength to pound it inside, the speed to finish strong off the break and the shooting touch to torch a team from the perimeter.
But we all know that competition in the Summer League can barely hold a candle to the real season. I wish we could have used ATS’ microscope then for better talent evaluation purposes. Moving on, what does Haislip give them Bucks in return?
Pure suckitude. Zero return on investment. A big can of whoop ass and 2 seasons full of lies about potential. Man, I didn’t want it to sound that mean but it did. I would’ve wanted to see that "post-up game" that Ernie Grunfeld was talking about. Then again, the Bucks also drafted Andrew Bogut thinking maybe that he had some serious post-up game.
After 2 disappointing years, Milwaukee waives Marcus from the roster cold-heartedly. Indiana then gleefully scoops up the remains of Haislip, hoping that the kid still has some stud material in him a-la Jermaine O’neal (from Blazer to Pacer), who coincidentally was also a Pacer then and probably expected to mentor Marcus. After all, with the fast-paced direction that the game has started to take, you can never have enough jumping jacks and raw athletes, right? Statistics say…
After 9 disappointing games, Marcus is, in NBA terms, waived. In life’s terms, banished. The highlight of his short stint: getting some decent minutes as a sixth man after the fallout from the Malice At The Palace decimated the Pacers’ lineup to just 8-9 players. The scouts, league front office personnel and the fans, oh the constantly tortured Bucks fans, cry deception. He was supposed to be the team’s future inside presence. He was supposed to be the low-post force that will open up looks for Ray Allen’s, Sam Cassell’s and Michael Redd’s guns whenever they exercised their license to shoot. After three seasons, Marcus Haislip’s name is filed under the growing list of draft busts. See ya, wouldn’t wanna be ya.
The case for Mr. Haislip: Like it or not, he was deeper than six feet under in that forward depth chart and played with shoot first, ask questions later type of teammates. Worst of all, he had George Karl for a coach (maybe CapHill can vouch for Marcus, lest he turns to J.R. Smith for advice?). But that’s behind Marcus now. If the European league (especially the Spanish ACB League) is the second-best hoops league on Earth, then Haislip has showed he can play:
The scoring numbers are nice, but okay, his rebounding still sucks. His 2-point and 3-point field goal percentages are good, and it helps that he can also block shots. And in un-Spurs-like fashion, he hits his free throws at a pretty accurate clip. Did Pop really get the right guy?
Marcus has also shown that he's capable of playing well on a winning team. While playing for Efes Pilsen Istanbul, his team won the 2007 Turkish National Cup, and was a 2-time All-Star in the Turkish League. The Haislip-powered 2006 Efes Pilsen team finished the Euroleague regular season with a respectable 8-6 win-loss record, enough to get in the Top 16 where they got knocked out with a 2-4 card. Marcus was recognized as Week 9 MVP of the Euroleague that year, too (I know, it's only ONE week of MVP-caliber play but hey, I'll take it).
The 2 years that Marcus played for Unicaja Malaga in Spain, the team had pretty impressive Euroleague season records of 10-4 (3-3 in Top 16 play) in 2007-2008, and 8-2 (2-4 Top 16 play) in 2008-2009. Although the team never won the Euroleague title during Haislip's stay, he made Unicaja a force to be reckoned with.
Much respect to Marcus from Pau (or is that baby brother Marc?).
Also, Marcus had a year's worth of being under the tutelage of Coach Aito Garcia-Reneses, coach of the Spanish Olympic basketball team (yes, the guy who nearly outwitted and shamed Coach K in that Olympic final) and well-respected in international coaching circles. That oughta erase the stigma of being coached by The Hairlip himself, George Karl.
And oh, he also ranks ONLY number 3 in Draft Express’ best international prospects. Whereas our beloved Yiannis Bouroussis used the Spurs to get leverage on his contract, Haislip took a major pay cut just to get the chance to prove that he belongs in the best basketball league in the world. There, happy?
#3 – Involvement in the 2002 NBA Draft Class
Like it or not, the 2002 draft class itself was a heinous crime. Sure there was Yao (could go either way, just ask Rockets fans), Carlos Boozer (ditto for Cavs and Jazz fans) and Amar’e (let’s not get even started with this one). Other positives include Caron Butler, Tayshaun Prince, Nene, and Drew Gooden (maybe). Oh, and some guy named Luis Scola. Yeowch.
The rest? Not so much. Here are other suspects of the 2002 draft bust crime:
Violated his NBA contract by riding a motorcycle. Let’s not talk about what happened after that.
Stats: 2.9 ppg, 1.8 rpg. ‘Nuff said. Plus, he needs to be kicked in the nuts with a last name like that.
Did I mention that Skeeta was a classically trained dancer and became a professional dancer for Georgia’s national dance team at age 9? How dare the NBA mock this nice, cultured young man. In the meantime, enjoy a nice video from Blades of Glory while imagining Skeeta as Jimmy MacElroy. Sorry Skeeta fans, only Manu deserves to be compared to Chazz Michael Michaels.
Accused of ballhogging by scoring 100 points in a high school basketball game. KO-BE, KO-BE, KO-BE. Currently playing in Poland. KO-BE, KO-BE, KO-BE.
Cajoled Isiah Thomas in giving him a fat contract to play for the Knicks. Playing for the Knicks can be considered a crime, too. Add to that his participation in the Knicks-Nuggets brawl. I rest my case.
Ring-stealing from the Spurs. Might have also stolen donuts from the team. Currently playing Shaggy to New Orleans’ Scrappy Doo.
The case for Mr. Haislip: Fact: the draft is an inexact science. Even fans blitz the great Spurs FO once in awhile for some draft blunders. At least Haislip’s not in Kelly Dwyer’s top draft busts of all-time. That was a pretty damning list. David Stern, I demand you to free Darko right now!
#4 – 1 count of desertion
In his first season playing in Istanbul, Turkey, he left his team without authorization and returned to the United States citing "family issues." That’s all you need to know. Oh, and maybe his personal choice of getaway vehicle was this monster:
Pimp my ride, Euro Basket edition.
(You can check out the specs of this Haislip-serviced H2 Hummer here.)
For stalker purposes, I found his shipping address but for safety reasons, I won't reveal it in this webspace. By saying that, I just want to clarify that I’m not a creepy dude. Okay, maybe not THAT creepy. The internet did this to me, okay? But if he sucks this season, you can thank me later for giving his address and probable getaway car . You can also show your disgust by toilet papering his abode. If he pulls the same stunt and ditches us in the middle of the season, we’ll know how to find him. You’re a marked man, Marcus.
#5 – And lastly, 1 count of assault
Haislip once threw a big punch during a game. Not a Carmelo Anthony-type chicken slap-to-backpedal combo. Seriously, the dude threw a punch. And it was caught on tape:
Euroleague MMA Night.
Too bad the guy didn’t get knocked out cold. Feeling a little bit Cheap Shot Rob? I’d say, he picked something up from having front row seats during the Malice At The Palace, most likely coming from Ron Artest or every Spur fan’s favorite, Captain Jack. For good measure and to scare us with Haislip’s potential for thugging it out, I present to you the newest technology this side of PtR: the Tat-o-scope (copyright, all rights reserved):
I promise the Tat-o-Scope's next appearance will be much better.
Flaming Burger (right bicep) – Missin’ the U-S of A and its burgers
Maze (right forearm) – Spent time solving during those lonely Spanish winter nights.
I’m Awsome (back) – Just because. And to get my name immortalized in the PtR lexicon (coming soon to a sidebar near you)
Ah-nold (left bicep) – Told ya I’ll be back.
Chinese Characters (left forearm) – Translation: Sesame Chicken. Yum.
Barcode (belly) – Kindly scan before trading to determine salary demands.
Starbury (head) – ‘Course Marcus doesn’t have that. Just messin’ with ya.
The case for Mr. Haislip: First, a dude slapped him in the face. He could’ve at least respected Marcus’ manliness by punching him instead. Plus he was in Europe, where everything’s legal including prostitution. Can you blame him for wanting to genuinely feel like he belongs? And if the Spurs are not signing Ime Udoka, Marcus can play the role of
murderer enforcer here. He’s not that bad. In fact, when a high school girls’ basketball team from Tennessee won the state tourney, Haislip rewarded them with championship rings. Heartwarming.
Overall, these are pretty serious accusations, people. So now you’re thinking that Marcus Haislip is totally screwed because the arguments FOR him suck. I know, my Marcus Tullius Cicero impersonation is really bad.
But if I want to delude myself about how good – or should I say, decent – this Haislip acquisition is, I will look at one common denominator that the Spurs FO have been hammering at in getting new blood this offseason: getting guys determined to prove something. We already talked extensively about Dice’s championship obsession. The fact that we took DeJuan Blair, who has a chip on his broad shoulders the size of Pittsburgh, when nobody else wanted his ACL-less knees says something. Heck, you can even throw Theo Ratliff’s never-ending crusade to prove that Youngevity really does work.
And now, we have an NBA reject just thankful for another shot at significance. Getting insanely hungry guys like these can either translate to controlled, collective determination or selfish, scattered desperation. Eighty-two basketball games, a couple of months of playoff drama, a few drinks, countless game threads, FanPosts and FanShots, and hundreds of misspelled words can only tell.
Stern: "Are you sure you wanna come back to the NBA, young man?"
Several months from now, depending on how it ends, fans will remember this season as either the season that the ever-so-frugal Spurs gambled and got seriously burned, or it could be something special in ways I could never describe. If the former happens, then Marcus Haislip will still be another mindless runner-up in some blogger’s all-time draft busts list (aye, Sam Bowie didn’t deserve this). Stampler could be right in that he’s just another two words: Camp body. And honestly, if championship dreams are to come true this season, we need Marcus to be more than just a footnote, not an imported practice player to be cut after the preseason. He’ll make me look bad with this post if that happens.
Scott Schroder from our fellow SB Nation neighbor Ridiculous Upside ponders a question: What is the single most common attribute that fringe players lack that NBA players have? People come up with various suggestions such as having a niche / specialist skill like rebounding or three-point shooting, athletic ability, basketball IQ and work ethic. For Scott though, it’s only one thing: opportunity. Marcus was already given that opportunity when he got drafted, and he was a lottery pick at that. Fast-forward to the end result – he messed up that chance.
But the good thing about life in general is that sometimes, we are afforded second, third, fourth, or even fifth chances. Now, Marcus Haislip is given a very rare second opportunity to make things right. Is he up to the challenge or is he forever bound to become a disappointment? What I do know is, the charges are out, Mr. Haislip. Luckily, you still have a few believers out there.
Also this year, Bruce's retirement left a huge void in the fans' hearts. Bruce was not only a good player, he was a good man, too (regardless of the "dirty player" monicker), and you can find no better guy to do those funny HEB commercials. Can you, Marcus Haislip, fill at least even a small part of that hole in our soul?
The Spurs faithful await conversion. Prove your innocence. Make us believe.
Revisit more news from the Haislip signing:
Pounding The Rock:
Aaronstampler’s Top Ten Things I Think I Think (Haislip makes it at #6)
Other entries from the Get To Know Your New Spurs series: