When I spoke with Patrick Ewing last month, I asked him about the status of his son playing in the NBA, and Ewing said:
“I would have loved for him to make it, he certainly played well enough to make it, but it just wasn’t in the cards for him right then. So hopefully somebody will pick him up and they’ll probably send him to the D-League and get him right”
Three weeks later, that’s exactly what happened.
On Monday December 15th, the Reno Bighorns, of the National Basketball Association Development League (NBADL) signed Patrick Ewing Jr. to a contract. Since Ewing Jr. was not signed by an NBA team first, and then sent down to the NBADL league, any team is free to pickup and sign him.
“The NBADL will provide him with a tremendous opportunity to continue to develop his skills, and get exposure to NBA scouts,” said Chris Alpert, Vice President of Basketball Operations and Player Personnel for the NBADL via conference call. “And hopefully he’ll earn himself a call up back to the NBA.”
Ewing Jr. is excited at the prospect of playing regular basketball again, but he also understands that he is in the league to work on his game and get better.
“I need to rebound the ball better, keep the team[Reno Bighorns] upbeat, be a vocal leader on and off the floor, and just do the things that help teams win games,” Ewing said via conference call.
Its definitely been a whirlwind year for Ewing Jr. In March of this year, he and his Georgetown Hoyas were eliminated from the NCAA tournament by the Davidson Wildcats and Stephon Curry. Two months later in May, Ewing Jr. graduated from Georgetown; a month later, he was drafted as the 43rd overall pick in the NBA draft, only to later traded to the Rockets, and eventually to the New York Knicks. Despite his spirited play during the preseason with the Knicks, they decided to waive him right before the start of the regular season.
Despite being let go by the very team that made his father a legend, Ewing Jr. harbors no resentment or bitterness towards the Knicks organization.
“If you look at their roster now, and with the injuries and stuff like that, I personally thought before then that they needed a guard and even more so now,” said Ewing Jr. “They traded for a guard [Cuttino Mobley] and unfortunately he had to retire due to certain circumstances. And, of course now as an organization, that should be what they are looking for.”
When asked if he was anticipating a call from the Knicks given that they are currently shorthanded, Ewing Jr. was quick to dismiss that notion.
“I told him [his agent David Falk] don’t be in my ear about things like that unless its something definite because it’s just added stress for no reason. Right now I just want to focus on my team in Reno.”
Speaking of his team in Reno, Ewing Jr. made his season debut with the Bighorns on Monday. In 30 minutes of play, Ewing Jr. scored 15 points, dished out five assists, blocked two shots and grabbed two rebounds. Despite coming back from 24 points down, the Bighorns fell, 114-108.
Ewing Jr. was refreshingly honest in assessing his performance in the first game.
“Coach drew a play for me the first play of the game and I scored the first play of the game and I felt good at that moment,” Ewing Jr. commented. “But the rest of the half was shaky, but after halftime I collected myself and got a little better.”
During the conference call, Ewing Jr. was also asked to assess the major difference between the college and pro games.
“The D league is definitely a pro league. You look at the name of some of the players, and a lot of them have NBA experience whether it be the summer league or during the season and the playoffs or camp experience. And its a totally different game. Its more up pace and its usually in the 100s.”
The next step in Ewing Jr.’s journey back to the NBA is tomorrow, December 20th when the Reno Bighorns take on the Sioux Falls Skyforce. Ewing Jr. is well aware of what he needs to do.
“I’m good at a lot of things, but in order to be a professional you have to be great at a lot of things”
For more information on Patrick Ewing Jr. and the rest of the NBADL, you can visit their website at: http://www.nba.com/dleague/