As far as divorces go, this one wasn’t messy or drawn out. The split between the St. John’s Edge and Gabe Freeman was swift, a quick slice through the contract days before the new National Basketball League of Canada season was to open.
No one, other than coach Doug Plumb, Carl English and a handful of others, understand exactly what went down, why the Edge and their marquee off-season signing, the player who was a former NBL regular season and playoff MVP, parted ways.
But something went awry, and I have a sneaky suspicion it had nothing to do with basketball.
“There are certain things,” Plumb said at the time, “that you can’t compromise. We’ve done a great job of putting together a group that meshes well.
“We didn’t feel there was a fit in with the type of people we have here.”
What this means, in the world of pro sports speak, is Freeman wasn’t a “room” guy in the eyes of Edge hierarchy. Something went off the rails, and rather than have it fester and infect the dressing room, he was cut loose.
Which brings us to another star player.
And with all due respect to Freeman, this guy could be the biggest, not in the literal sense, “name” guy in the league.
Glen Davis was a college basketball star, a Southeast Conference MVP with Louisiana State University, and a second-round pick in the 2007 NBA Draft.
He played in the league for eight years, and won a championship with the Boston Celtics in 2008. Three times, he averaged double figures in scoring, his best year coming in 2012-13 when he netted 15.1 points per game and grabbed 7.2 rebounds for the Orlando Magic.
Royce White, who won a championship with the London Lightning last year, might have been a first round NBA draft pick, and Michael Ray Richardson, the one-time London coach, might have been an NBA star until drugs derailed his career.
But they were no Glen Davis, the biggest star-sighting the NBL Canada has ever known.
So why, then, are we scratching our heads?
Why, then, is there a “yeah, but …”?
Glen (Big Baby) Davis was a bonafide NBA star. He wanted a return to the league, and talked of playing in the G League even up until last season, two years after his last NBA game.
That evidently didn’t pan out. He signed to play in Croatia this season, and headed overseas.
But he didn’t suit up with KK Zadar. Media reports cited weight issues and attitude problems.
In an online video posted later, Davis put the full court press on Zadar, noting there were “internal issues” with the team.
“The organization is shit,” he said in the video.
So now it’s St. John’s, N.L., and the National Basketball League of Canada.
For a player who apparently made upwards of $35 million in his career?
With Davis, though, there are bigger concerns, and it starts with a criminal charge last March of possession and intent to distribute following an arrest in a Maryland hotel room.
Besides the 126 grams of marijuana found in the room, there was a briefcase with $92,000 in cash tucked inside.
Maybe he was headed off to Walmart.
Then there’s the little matter of a felony assault charge last April, stemming from an altercation outside an L.A. nightclub, which left a man scuffed up pretty good.
We won’t even get into the other video floating around, the one with Davis supposedly on a plane, munching on fried chicken, with his Celtics’ championship ring sitting on wads of cash in a nearby briefcase.
There’s baggage, and then there’s a moving van chock-full of suitcases.
Freeman, despite his MVP awards, was expendable. But Davis, who once dropped 33 points on the Philadelphia 76ers, well, he’s a star.
And, let’s be honest, he’ll be a box office bonanza.
“No. Absolutely not,” a resolute coach Plumb said when asked this week if he was concerned with Davis coming in and upsetting the apple cart.
“We really had great talks with their side, a lot of open dialogue. He wants to play, and he wants to win. Every interaction I’ve had with him has been fantastic.
“Look,” Plumb said, “I’m a huge believer in second chances. No person is perfect, and I don’t believe in crucifying someone because they made a mistake.
“I believe players want consistency, and they want to know where they fit in. As coaches, we have to be prepared and be thorough, be clear on what we want from the players.
“Talking to Glen, he said all the right things. … I’ve got a good feeling here.”
It’s a huge gamble for the Edge. If Davis comes in and works himself into shape, St. John’s just zoomed up to the top of the list of contenders for a league championship, despite the Edge’s pedestrian 2-5 record to start the year.
If Davis goes the other way, and a gong show ensues, well, Plumb and Edge management will be teetering on losing the team.
“What I’ve seen in the last 72 hours,” Plumb said, “is what I’ve envisioned all summer.”
On Sunday, St. John’s lost a 112-111 heart-breaker to the Halifax Hurricanes to fall to 1-5.
Trailing at the half 58-42, and 86-67 after three quarters, the Edge mounted a furious comeback in the fourth quarter to overcome a 24-point deficit, only to have the game decided by the final possession, the winning bucket coming as the buzzer sounded.
Undaunted, the Edge came back two nights later in Sydney, N.S. and beat the Cape Breton Highlanders 109-92, with Carl English breaking out with 28 points.
“Yes, our record is 2-5, but I see good signs with this team,” Plumb said. “So you don’t want to mess with what you’ve established.
“And when you’re that good,” he said in reference to Davis, “you have to give him the ball. But when you also have the shooters that we have, that’s a very dangerous tool. It’s exciting to think of the possibilities, exciting to get a player of that stature.
“Now we have to ensure we get a buy-in from everyone.”
Davis isn’t in town yet, because of an immigration hold-up.
With the Edge not slated to play until next Friday, against the Island Storm from P.E.I. at Mile One Centre, there will be plenty of time for Davis to introduce himself to his new teammates and get in a few practices.
And maybe, given all that cash at his disposal, pick up a tab or two for the boys.
Robin Short is The Telegram’s Sports Editor. He can be reached by email firstname.lastname@example.org Follow him on Twitter @TelyRobinShort