Indiana Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said releasing rookie James White on Monday was the most difficult cut he's been involved with in his coaching career.
The Pacers picked up White in a draft-day trade after Portland selected him with the first pick of the second round. The 6-foot-7 guard/forward from Cincinnati averaged 3.8 points and 2.0 rebounds in eight preseason games.
Carlisle said the cut was made because the remaining players are ready to help Indiana win now.
"It was obviously an agonizing decision," Carlisle said. "It had to be made. The good news is we feel like we have some very good players here. The bad news is, you hate to let a guy like James White go who has a lot of promise, who's going to be a good player."
Indiana also cut center John Edwards, who missed the entire preseason with a sore groin, to get its roster down to the NBA limit of 15 players in time for Wednesday's season opener at Charlotte. Eight of the players on the roster were not with the team last season.
The Pacers made two deals with the Dallas Mavericks after the draft, acquiring Darrell Armstrong, Josh Powell, Rawle Marshall and Marquis Daniels for Anthony Johnson and Austin Croshere.
Powell and Marshall played well enough in the preseason to allow the Pacers to cut White. Marshall, a 6-7 swingman, averaged 7.9 points and 1.5 rebounds while shooting 49 percent from the field. Powell, a 6-9 forward, averaged 7.7 points and 4.6 rebounds while shooting 51 percent from the floor.
"Make no mistake, both of these players earned their roster positions with exceptional play a lot of the time and solid play most of the time," Carlisle said.
Powell and Marshall turned out to be better than expected.
"When we made the trade with Dallas, Rawle and Josh were players who were thrown in to make it work from a cap perspective. We feel like right now, they're role players, but they have a chance to get a lot better," Carlisle said.
Edwards, a 7-footer, came to Indiana from Atlanta in the trade that brought Al Harrington back to the Pacers. He played for Indiana in the 2004-2005 season and averaged 1.2 points and 0.8 rebounds per game.
"I feel like we know John Edwards pretty well," Carlisle said. "The injuries played a little bit of a part in the way things went, but at the end of the day, in his case, it was a numbers game."
Carlisle also hinted that first-round draft pick Shawne Williams could wind up in the NBA's developmental league since the Pacers can only keep 12 players active among the 15 on the roster.
Guard Orien Greene made the team despite playing just 14 minutes in the preseason because of a broken finger. He was picked up on waivers this summer after Boston cut him.
"When he did play, he did the things that we are going to need him to do," Carlisle said. "On a position basis, we're big believers in making sure the point-guard position is covered. He gives us a different dimension there. Jamaal (Tinsley) and Sarunas (Jasikevicius) and Darrell have all played solidly, but it's good to have another guy ready."
Maceo Baston, a 30-year-old rookie who played for Maccabi Tel Aviv in the Euroleague last season, made the cut after averaging 6.6 points in 10 minutes a game and shooting 65 percent from the field during the preseason.
The Pacers already had cut guard Jimmie "Snap" Hunter and forward Sean Lampley. Hunter was one of three Pacers who were with guard Stephen Jackson at a fight outside an Indianapolis strip club this month during which Jackson shot a gun in the air.
WOW...I thought he was gonna be a 1st rounder for sure, or at least should have been, and he couldn't even stick with the team that drafted him....sad, he has talent for sure, I hope he can sign with another team...