ormer University of Massachusetts men's basketball center Lari Ketner is making a bid for playing time on the Chicago Bulls.
|Get all the numbers on Roe & Ketner's performance in the pre-season.|
Ketner has averaged 5.2 points and 3.8 rebounds per game in his first four preseason contests. The Bulls are determining whether the 6-foot-10 power forward-center will fit into a playing rotation on a team still recovering from the loss of Michael Jordan before last season.
"The coaches are high on his athleticism, and (Bulls coach) Tim Floyd agreed when he was asked if Ketner was one of the surprises at camp," said Mike McGraw, who covers the Bulls for the Daily Herald of Arlington Heights, Ill. "He's looked good in practice, and at times he's looked like their best rebounder. And his motivation has been no issue."
The Bulls, who were 13-37 last year, have rotated three centers in the past. But that was when Jordan and Scottie Pippen provided much of the offense, which allowed Chicago to utilize its bench for defense — and to use up fouls.
That luxury no longer exists, but Ketner has shown some offensive punch while averaging 11.2 minutes per preseason game. He has hit eight of 14 field goals and five of eight free throws, and might fit well with the increased offensive demands that might be expected of the reserve low-post players.
He had been best game Oct. 15 against Denver, scoring 11 points with eight rebounds in 22 minutes.
Ketner was a second-round pick in the 1999 NBA Draft, and has already been signed to a contract for this season. That doesn't mean the Bulls will keep him on their 12-man active roster, but McGraw said his chances look good unless the Bulls lose another guard to injury.
Starter B.J. Armstrong is out with a knee problem, and if another guard goes down, a roster spot might be invested in backcourt help at the expense of a low-post player — possibly Ketner.
Ketner played three seasons for UMass, with career averages of 12.2 points and 7.0 rebounds before graduating last spring.
In Roe's case, the roster numbers don't favor him, but the Timberwolves are giving the 6-foot-7 small forward a chance.
Roe, the cornerstone of UMass' 1995 NCAA Elite Eight team, averaged 4.4 points, 3.8 rebounds and 14 minutes in his first five preseason games. His best game came against Charlotte, when he scored 12 points with nine rebounds.
The Timberwolves have 13 players on guaranteed contracts, however, and Roe's opportunity has arisen largely because four are injured. Roe, who will be signed only if he makes the team, was Detroit's second-round pick in 1995.
He has played for the Pistons, Golden State Warriors and in Europe. Last year, Roe played for Rockford of the Continental Basketball Association.
Wednesday, Roe played seven minutes against Milwaukee, with one point and two rebounds.