NBA training camps are slated to kick into high gear in a little more than a month, but Rafer Skip to My Lou Alston is still without a contract.
The former Cardozo High School standout, who spent the last three years with the Milwaukee Bucks backing up Sam Cassell, is a free agent in search of a team. According to his agent. Keith Kreiter, Alston has options.
There are so many teams that are high on Rafer, Kreiter said. There are a ton of teams that need a point guard and only a handful of quality guys out there and Rafer is one of them. Were comfortable. Something is going to happen. Were going to see how this plays out.
As of this writing, Alston was working with one Western Conference team.
Numerous NBA teams are still in search on a point guard, including Golden State, Utah, Chicago, Indiana, Denver, Toronto, Boston, Minnesota, the Los Angeles Lakers, Miami and, as always, the New York Knicks. It was rumored that New Jersey was high on the Queens native, but the defending Eastern Conference champs signed veteran Chris Childs instead.
The consensus is that he has a tremendous upside, Kreiter said. We think hes ready to start in this league. The response weve heard this year has been positive.
Alston, who never graduated from Cardozo and suffered through eligibility problems during high school, played only one season of Division I ball in college with Fresno State before turning pro.
Legal problems slowed his progress, relegating him to the CBA for a season after being drafted by the Bucks. But Alston bounced back, finally joining the Bucks for the 1999-2000 season. He saw action in 27 games his first season, averaging 2.2 points and 2.6 assists in 13.4 minutes per game.
Alston got his first start the following season, but was relegated to the bench most of the year. He played in 37 games for the Bucks, averaging 2.1 points and 1.8 assists in 7.8 minutes per game.
Last year Alston stared seven games for Milwaukee, averaged 3.5 points, 1.2 rebounds and 2.5 assists in 50 games with an average of 12 minutes per game. But there were plenty of bright spots to focus on in 2001-2002.
Alston scored a career-high 14 points twice and dished out 10 assists twice. He recorded five steals against John Stockton and the Utah Jazz and had an assist to turnover ration of better than 3 to 1. These credentials, Kreiter said, point to the fact that Alston is ready to take a step up in the league.
I think Rafer has proven that his production per minutes played is one of the most impressive in the league, Kreiter said. Youre talking about a guy who finished the year just shy of an 4 to 1 assist-to-turnover ratio, a three-point shooting percentage that fell just below 40 percent and a guy who had some games, like against Miami this past year, with 10 assists in 26 minutes.
But, for whatever reason, Alston was not able to remain in Bucks coach George Karls rotation, even when injuries hampered Cassell for part of the year.
Was he given the chance to do enough? No, Kreiter said. But the time he was given an opportunity he came through like a shining star.
With no contract, Alston did not spend any time at one of the several NBA summer pro leagues. Alston instead toured with And-1, a sneaker company with which he has a promotional deal.
Kreiter said Alston will continue to workout for teams until the best offer comes across.
Hes ready to step up, Kreiter said. A lot of people echo those sentiments.
Reach Sports Editor Anthony Bosco by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 130.
©2002 Community News Group
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