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Magnum Rolle: The Victim of Circumstance

Sometimes circumstance changes one’s plans. Unfortunately, that’s just the thing that led to Magnum Rolle being cut from the final Pacers roster. But even as everyone seems to be questioning the move, it was the right decision, even if our hearts don’t agree. It’s easy to see we were all warming up to Magnum. He seemed like a genuinely nice guy, a good fit for the rebuilding effort; someone who looked to really enjoy being a part of the organization, even if his impact on the basketball court never rises above miniscule.

From a business standpoint, we’re lamenting the loss of a 15th man, a project that most likely never makes a serious impact in the NBA. Who’s to say he ever becomes better than Solomon Jones? He didn’t look any better than Solo in the preseason. In fact, I was personally underwhelmed by his preseason outing. He didn’t look capable of holding his own, but all the while, I can completely understand wanting to keep him over Solo.

I’ll miss him, but I don’t want that emotion to cloud the difficulty that comes in keeping him. Simply, the team can’t afford to keep him right now if we all feel we’re being somewhat underrated in every season preview. I think we can all agree that if this team plays well, they can get the pleasure of getting swept by Miami in the playoffs. It’s the ultimate goal for this team. It’s unfortunately, in the team’s capacity, not best suited for Magnum.

Regardless of my feelings of Solomon Jones as a useful NBA player, I trust him more on the court than Magnum Rolle this season. I would rather have Magnum as a project sitting on the bench, but when I say he showed me very little in the preseason, I mean it. When we look at Ian’s post on usage rate and see how much was run through Magnum, and how little impact he made…there’s no way we could keep him. The front court is simply too thin.

Jeff Foster, Tyler Hansbrough, and Solo back up Josh McRoberts and Roy Hibbert. I’m going to step away from the injury recovery of Foster and Hansbrough, though Mike Wells believes (read: knows) that is a huge factor alone in keeping Solo, it’s equally a huge factor if any one of those players should go down for a period of time that would require Magnum to step into a prominent role. That’s something I believe we would be asinine to do, both for the team and for Magnum.

In addition to the on the court issues that come into play, the contracts of the players involved is an issue as well. When I hear the team is trying to move both Joneses in a two-for-one swap, I believe it. When I hear no one’s biting, I believe it even more. Would you want both of those players for any one player on your roster? That’s what I thought. While I stand by the Dahntay Jones signing as a smart economic one, albeit one that’s become poorly executed thanks to the coaching philosophy, I’ve never quite understood the Solomon Jones contract.

His signing last summer didn’t make sense to me from a team standpoint, and certainly didn’t make sense from an economic standpoint. While it ended up serving its purpose at stretches when the front court was injured, it being a two year guaranteed deal did not. Why give Solo two guaranteed years and not Earl Watson? Up until the acquisition of Darren Collison, it would’ve been optimal to simply work through a second year of Watson than rely so heavily on a Ford/Price combo, damning ourselves to that awkward Lance Stephenson experiment should either of those bodies go down.

In the end, there are some missteps from the Pacers front office that led to Magnum Rolle’s cut. But I believe his (hopefully temporary) dismissal is far more engrained in poor circumstance brought about by taking on James Posey and Darren Collison than being one huge front office blunder. At the risk of being a dreaded Larry Bird apologist, sounding like I’m bailing him out for cutting Magnum; I’d rather not have Magnum on this year’s roster to take on Collison and Posey every time. I hope most of you would as well.

So dry your eyes and lift your chin. This isn’t about being anyone’s apologist. This is about keeping the on the court product in perspective. From all angles, this is the best possible result given the options available. Any other roster casualty would’ve been a bad basketball decision. But just because I recognize that doesn’t mean I am a fan of it. Unfortunately, Magnum Rolle was a victim of circumstance. I just hope we can see him again soon.