LEGENDS 94 OKLAHOMA 102
FRISCO – The NBA D-League may still be developing itself, but the quandary teams have to face with their best players is the same as with minor league baseball: If your best becomes too good, he may soon be gone.
The Texas Legends felt it big time last year, and the depletion of talent mid-season led to them missing the playoffs. Now they may be at risk of it happening again, as Eduardo Najera once again is seeing starters departing from his roster.
One of the biggest losses has definitely been Damion James. After dropping 40 points against Rio Grande Valley on Feb. 7, the Texas alum, who was averaging 18.3 points per game for the Legends, accepted a $10,000 per week offer to play for the Alaska Aces in the Philippine League.
Also gone is Ricky Ledo, who was waived by the Mavericks on Wednesday so they could sign and activate Amar’e Stoudamire. It is possible that Ledo could re-sign should he clear waivers.
The most recent departure is Doron Lamb. The Kentucky product, who averaged 16.5 points in 21 games, was traded to Westchester for the returning player rights to Luke Harangody and Jeff Adrien along with a second-round draft pick.
With those moves, the Legends currently had only nine players on their roster going into Friday’s game with Oklahoma City. The depleted roster showed, as the Legends were unable to contain Maurice Sutton or Marquis Teague in losing 102-94 to Oklahoma City at the Dr. Pepper Arena. It was definitely a tough one to lose, as a win over the Blue would have vaulted the Legends back into second place in their division.
To be fair, the Legends struggles started before even James departed. Texas has now lost six of its last seven, leading to its drop into the Southwest cellar.
The one person who has been succeeding at least for the time being has been Renaldo Balkman, who did score 21 tonight – the fifth time in his last six games that he scored at least 20 points.
It will be wait and see as to whether or not Harangody and Adrien can fit in and replace the talent they lost. Texas is still only two games out of second with plenty of time to spare. But they are still facing an uphill climb without many of the players they succeeded earlier with.
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