WASHINGTON, DC – Just a few months ago Dwayne Bacon was ending his fourth season in the NBA by playing in every game for the Orlando Magic, starting 50 of them. But in the kind of lesson that reminds players that the NBA is a business, he finds himself in a Knicks training camp trying to fight for 15th and last on the list.
Bacon was cut by the Magic in August and 10 days later an unsecured contract was signed by Knicks. Now he finds himself competing not only with players currently in camp but with names floating around as potential cuts from other teams.
“It’s not really weird,” Bacon said after Nix was shot at Georgetown University’s John R. Thompson Center. “But that’s what happens. Maybe this summer wasn’t my time.
“It doesn’t mean I’m done in the league. I’ve started 50 games, played all 72. I’ll be available. But you know you just have to play, do my part, do what I can to be my best. That’s what I did this summer – I’ve improved So I feel a lot better. I’m in much better shape than I was last year, and I played 72 games. So you just have to keep going.”
He hasn’t gotten a chance in matches yet, but he doesn’t have many players to fight with for a place. In the Knicks’ 117-99 win over the Wizards at the Capital One Arena on Saturday night, perhaps the most impressive performance came from rookie Jericho Sims. He is currently on a two-way contract, but if injuries continue to Mitchell Robinson or Nirlence Noel, he could be transferred.
The Knicks have 14 guaranteed contracts and a pair of two-way trades. In the camp, Bacon and Wayne Selden are the likely candidates, but coach Tom Tebodeau said last week that the front office is scouring the league to see who might be available.
“We have a number of players who are fighting. He’s a good competitor and obviously his height, he played on the wing,” Tibodo said, referring to Bacon. “Wayne Selden has been fantastic, along with Dwayne. Both guys are veterans who could add to the team. And we have two guys there – MJ Walker played really well. Aamir [Simms] well played. So this is what the team needs and how it fits into the team and what you’re looking for from the 15th man.
“For me, in this position, perhaps the most important thing is how you train every day. What do you bring to the team? So there is a lot that goes into it and what works best for us. And we’ll wait until the end to make that decision.”
Bacon is looking for an opportunity to prove himself in a match, having been on the bench so far. He averaged 10.9 points per game but fired only 28.5% from a three-point range after shooting 43.7% in his sophomore year in the league. But as Thibodeau said, proving themselves in practice is just as important for those players trying to find a place.
“I can score the ball,” Bacon said. “I can defend. I can be the locker room man that I am. Every day I wake up, smiling, just because I’m lucky to be in this situation. When my number is called, I’ll take care of work. In the same way, when everyone is there, I take care of my work sitting everyone cheering.” This is my turn now.”
He has close ties to Kimba Walker, with whom he spent the first two seasons of his career in Charlotte.
“Kimba and I don’t talk about things like that,” Bacon said. “He doesn’t have to call and say, ‘Hey, yeah, we want you.’ I’ve had a relationship with Kimba since Charlotte. My vet was in my junior year and I had him for two years before he went to Boston. And we’ve just built a great relationship.”
“He saw what kind of guy I was, worker, always keeping the dressing room happy and fun. I hooked up with brothers. He’s a guy I can’t really explain, helps me a lot, helps my family a lot. He’s just a great guy you don’t really come across often, and I’m lucky to have those The friendship we enjoy.