Pops initially signed for this season with Spanish team Caja Laboral, but was released after they detected some scar tissue in his knee during his preseason physical. That scar tissue has been there since a knee operation Pops had during his George Washington days, and it hasn't prevented him from being as athletic and productive as he's been in his professional career. Yet it scared off Caja Laboral anyway, and New Orleans swooped in to get this possible contributor. Pops makes a series of excruciatingly dumb plays in every game, yet he also makes a series of good ones. He rebounds, runs, scores through hustle and defends through hustle. For what he provides, it's worth putting up with the occasional wing isolation possession that results in him dribbling off his foot.
Pops Mensah-Bonsu - Pops made the Hornets roster in training camp, but was waived today because of the contract guarantee date. He played only 35 minutes in total for the Hornets, recording 2 points, 11 rebounds and 11 fouls. As ever, Pops stands to provide plenty of good with plenty of bad, an intricate mix of exciting and excruciating play. By this time, his dye is cast.
In some additional related bookkeeping, the reason for many of the players listed in the previous list was due to the NBA's contract guarantee date. All players on NBA rosters on or after January 10th have their contracts guaranteed for the remainder of the season (future seasons are unaffected); this also includes waivers. In-season waivers are 48 hours long and do not include weekends; therefore, with the 10th of January being a Monday, players had to be waived by close of business on Wednesday 5th in order to have cleared waivers before the deadline date.
Pops Mensah-Bonsu - Wherever he plies his trade in this world, Pops makes things happen on the court. "Things" can often include bad stuff, such as turnovers, airballs, ridiculously ambitious drives to the basket, and silly fouls. But making things happen is also a good thing in a big man, and something that's often overlooked in a league that seems to have a bizarre fetish for old stagnant farts that doesn't contribute on the court in any significant way. (You know the types. Some of them are on this list.) Mensah-Bonsu always sports a great rebounding rate, can get some points through sheer hustle and athleticism, and has a good handle for a power forward. He is prone to the occasional delusion of grandeur, but he causes turnovers, wins possessions, scores some baskets, grabs some rebounds, blocks some shots, runs the bejeezus out of the floor, and is disruptive around the basket. No team can have enough of that.
Initially, they didn't have much luck replacing them. They had success when they replaced English with David Logan, but didn't do so well elsewhere. They tried to replace the Eliyahu/Golubovic combination with Florent Pietrus and Pops Mensah-Bonsu, but neither lasted long; Pietrus only signed a one month contract and soon left, and they vetoed the Pops signing when they found scar tissue in his knee (which has been there forever and not held him back; they just didn't do their research on this one).
Pops Mensah-Bonsu The Englishman can grab rebounds, run the floor unbelievably well for a man of his size, and turn it over with staggering consistency while trying to isolate on the left wing. So, something for everyone there.
Britain (and England in particular) are starting to place some good big men prospects abroad. Joel Freeland was a first round draft pick of the Blazers back in 2006, who is slowly making a name for himself in the powerhouse Spanish ACB. Another Blazers draft pick, Dante Cunningham, has also worked out for the British team, although he doesn't have the pre-requisite passport yet. Former Hornets forward Sean Banks is also eligible for a British passport, and supposedly in the process of getting one. And other British big man prospects that you may have heard of include Dan Clark (Estudiantes Madrid, ACB), Justin Robinson (Rider), Eric Boateng (just graduated from Arizona State University) and Matthew Bryan-Amaning (University of Washington).
There's some established talent out there, too. Luol Deng, you know about. One-time NBA big man Robert Archibald is also playing in the ACB to a high level, even if he is Scottish. Former NBA draft pick Andy Betts - a man able to make the CV boosting claim that he was once traded for Peja Stojakovic - is still plying his trade in the Greek first division with Aris, a Euroleague team this year. Ex-Raptors forward Pops Mensah-Bonsu is a stalwart of the national team, and finally found the NBA employment last season that he should have had for the last few years. Michael Olowokandi has a British passport (although we don't want him), as has Steve Nash (whom we sadly can't have). And worse case scenario, there's always Providence's Randall Hanke.
Once in Eurobasket Division A, things got tricky. Deng was unavailable due to the stress fracture in his leg, and this left the team using Robert Archibald and Pops Mensah-Bonsu as offensive focal points. If you've ever seen Pops Mensah-Bonsu play, you'd know that it's best to let him just run around enthusiastically without the ball, but if you saw GB play in Eurobasket, you'd have seen multiple wing isolations run for him. This wasn't due to bad coaching; Britain are coached by Chris Finch, the current head coach of the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, who got great results out of an overmatched team. The team had about 56 different ways to feed the post, all executed excellently. But without Deng, the team just didn't have enough ability, and it cost them. Despite leading the eventual champions Spain for much of their game, including by double figures at one point, Britain lost that game and their every game in the tournament. They competed in all of them, but they ran out of talent.
England's finest Pops Three Whales started the year with the Rockets, unable to secure any guaranteed money this offseason despite his strong finish to last season. The Rockets waived him before one of his multiple contract guarantee dates, at which point the Raptors brought him back when they claimed him off of waivers. Pops didn't survive long there either, though, and was waived before another contract guarantee date. After this, Pops went to European powerhouse CSKA Moscow (in Moscow) to replace Courtney Sims, who had spent only about 8 minutes with the team. But Pops has played very little in his three months with CSKA. Pops is averaging only 11.6 minutes in Russian Superleague play, averaging 8.6 points, 4.4 rebounds and 2.2 fouls in that time. He has also totalled only 65 minutes, 37 points and 12 rebounds in Euroleague play; 24, 19 and 8 of that came in just one game.
Note: Non-US teams that the player
has played for are, unless stated otherwise, from the top division in
that nation. If a league or division name is expressly stated, it's not
the top division. The only exceptions to this are the rare occasions where
no one league is said to be above the other, such as with the JBL/BJ League
split in Japan.