Cuttino Mobley retired in 2008 at the too-early age of 32 years old. The former Houston Rockets standout was never an All-Star, but he was a solid starting-level shooting guard who mixed sound outside shooting with a point guard’s knowledge of spacing and timing. Mobley was being counted on in 2008 to act as a needed veteran buffer for a New York Knicks team in bad need of outside shooting, but an MRI revealed a heart condition (hypertrophic cardiomyopathy) that encouraged the retirement.
At the time, Mobley said that the MRI “basically saved my life,” which flew in the face of a disappointing lawsuit Mobley brought up against the Knicks a few years later. In the suit, Cuttino alleged that the Knicks only asked Mobley to retire in order to realize luxury tax savings (for a roster that was already millions over the luxury tax) and to save money for the 2010 LeBron James-led offseason (completely incorrect in every way).
Years after that suit was sent away, the man they once called “Cat” is back to try and make one more NBA stab. It may be because his medical marijuana efforts have been smoked out, and it might be to spite the Knicks, but we’re guessing it’s mainly because Mobley still feels like he has something to contribute to an NBA team, and because he wants to go out on his own terms. Completely understandable.
On May 31, ASM Sports will be holding a pro-day for their draft prospects as well as their veteran free agents. Mobley will be one of the free agents participating in the veteran sessions, according to the agency.
The free agent workouts will include drills and five-on-five. Other notable free agents such as Josh Howard, Christian Eyenga and Rasual Butler will also be participating in the pro-day, which will be held at Impact Basketball in Las Vegas.
Howard, Eyenga, and Butler may still have NBA-level skills despite their respective injury history, development issues, and questionable decision-making. Mobley’s chances, though, are the most intriguing.
Mobley wasn’t a lights-out shooter (his career mark of 37.8 percent from 3-point range is around the NBA’s average), and he doesn’t have the size (at 6-foot-4) to overcome the onset of age and loss of quickness. By the start of the 2013-14 season, though, he won’t have played for five years. Teams shouldn’t be encouraged to think that Mobley would essentially be walking into this fall’s camp (at age 38) as the NBA equivalent of a 33-year old, but his smarts and obvious passion shouldn’t be overlooked.
There are two problems beyond that.
First, Mobley was a fringe NBA player even back before the 2008-09 season. His overall efficiency had dropped three consecutive seasons prior to that year, and Mobley’s size never made him the sort of player who could easily overcome his scoring issues with all-out D. If Knicks general manager Donnie Walsh and then-coach Mike D’Antoni were expecting a big contributor, then they were off in their assessment, or just saying nice things on the record so as to save themselves from Mobley’s suit.
Secondly, the guy has a frightening heart issue, something that could do terrible things to him in relatively minor events like the lead-up to a scrimmage in front of scouts or following an 82-game season spent as a team’s sage veteran leader. That ASM Sports and the journalists they feed info aren’t taking the time to either get in Mobley’s way or at least reference the dangers of a basketball-playing comeback is unfortunate.
We get that Cuttino Mobley wants to walk off of an NBA court on his own terms. What’s hard to understand is why nobody is telling him that the approach to that symbolic ending may not be worth it.