Ball Don't Lie

Can Eddy Curry still cut the mustard as an NBA player?

Kelly Dwyer
Ball Don't Lie

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As NBA memes go, the bash party that Eddy Curry has had to endure is equal parts deserved and depressing. Its longevity will probably outlast Curry's current contract with the New York Knicks, which was signed around this time six years ago, after a frustrating offseason following his final year with the Chicago Bulls. Curry, even in his best moments with the Knicks, was always overpaid. He was paid on potential, never developed, and essentially ate his way out of the NBA.

His trainer, the Chicago-based Tim Grover, thinks there's still something left in his tank. Of course Grover will go on record touting the abilities of his client, and he's far from an objective voice in this case. Still, Grover is also fantastic at what he does. And he has the sustained strength of former clients Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant in his back pocket to lean on, while we wonder if Curry could (or even wants to) play another NBA minute.

From Tim, via Barry Jackson at the Miami Herald:

Curry, who interests the Heat, is in "excellent shape" and "no question" ready to join an NBA team post-lockout, well-regarded Chicago-based trainer Tim Grover told us last week. Grover declined to give Curry's weight, which was 300 in August, down from 350 in March.

Grover said he advised Curry not to play in the FIU charity game last weekend because "these are not games for big men."

Grover's not wrong, on the last part. It's not the best move for an out-of-shape and out-of-work center to take part in a glorified All-Star contest, dragging himself up and down the court while the guards dribble the game away.

300 pounds is still too much for a player who will be 30 in 14 months, and who is generously listed at 6-11 (geez, Wikipedia even has him at 7-feet). Even though he could throw down with the best of them a decade ago (and it has been a full decade since Eddy was drafted by the Bulls), his game has relied more on touch and footwork than anything. He's always had that.

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But he's never had a clue. This isn't to diminish Jamal Crawford's accomplishments, but Curry has always been a big man's version of Crawford -- minus Crawford's ability to adapt, and Jamal's ability to not eat himself out of the league. Talent in one area, but only useful to a team that can make up for the rest of his limitations.

Curry is a legendarily-bad rebounder at his position, and he's a massive liability as a defender even if his height may get in the way of wayward drivers. He can score in isolation situations, like Crawford, but can't be trusted to ably work his way out of a double-team. He can score, quickly, but at what cost?

Isiah Thomas and the Knicks thought that those costs should include an eight-figure deal, and what turned into the second overall pick in 2006 (which Chicago regrettably used on Tyrus Thomas) and the pick that turned into Joakim Noah a year later. Curry had his moments in New York, but he's played just 10 NBA games since Noah's rookie year. And if you follow NBA fans and writers on your Twitter account, rarely does a day pass without an Eddy Curry joke making its way through your internet tubes. Eddy Curry jokes have even outlasted lame jokes about internet tubes.

Can Eddy Curry play in the NBA again? At 28, he should be in his ostensible prime, and I doubt that touch around the rim will ever leave him. And what people forget is, besides the girth issues, he messed over his career in a more significant way by leaving a Bulls team that was best-suited for his strengths and weaknesses. A Scott Skiles-led group that defended with the best of them, and utilized Curry's first and third quarter skills as a scorer while leaving him on the bench when it came time to guard the other team's late-game screen and roll attack.

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Perhaps there's your answer, then. Skiles and Curry never much cared for each other, but they could really use each other right now. Skiles, as it always is, needs scoring for his defensively-keen Milwaukee Bucks. He needs depth, behind or alongside center Andrew Bogut. Eddy Curry needs not only a job, but a team that can cover weaknesses that, frankly, he'll never be able to overcome.

I'll leave it to you to make the obvious bratwurst jokes that Eddy has so well earned.

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