Replacing Erik Daniels

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

News broke over the weekend that former Erie BayHawks forward/center Erik Daniels had signed a contract to play next season with Azovmash Mariupo in the Ukraine Superleague.

As a first-team All D-League selection last year, Daniels was a key part in the BayHawks' inaugural season. His presence gave the team stability and helped the young team qualify for the playoffs as an expansion franchise.

Still, it should come as little surprise that Daniels won't be back in Erie for a second season. Despite the numbers he put up last season, Daniels received little attention from the NBA and saw almost no playing time as part of the Memphis Grizzlies Summer League team. The rationale is that he played much of the season out of position at center for the BayHawks when he's more likely a 3 or 4 at the NBA level.

Also, at age 27, Daniels understands that he's old by NBA Development League standards, so it's hard to blame him for taking what I'm sure is a hefty raise to play overseas. It's hard to track down a lot of information about the signing, but if I can trust Twitter, Daniels is already over there. His update (@danielserik) from September 15 said, "2 more days in the mountains then off to the ukraine." Blog Talk BayHawk wishes the ex-BayHawk nothing but the best.

As for the BayHawks, I think they new this was going to happen sooner or later, but coach Treloar and company now has to face the reality of it. Their team MVP will not be back, and it will not be easy to replace his statistical production nor his veteran savvy.

First, the BayHawks need to find a way to replace a player who averaged a double-double over the course of the season while anchoring the BayHawks' defense in the post. I'm not sure if there's one single player in the D-League pool who fits that description, so it may take a combination of players.

And secondly, Erie has to look for someone with some experience under their belt. In a league filled with first- and second-year players, I think it's very beneficial to have one or two high-character veterans that have been playing professionally for a handful of years to help accommodate the youth that's going to populate the roster.

Daniels' departure leaves a definite hole to fill. In my opinion, replacing him has to become priority number one for the coaching staff right now as they get ready to formulate the roster for the upcoming season. Erie's success this season may very well depend on how well they're able to replace Daniels' productivity in the paint and presence in the locker room. If they can find another player of the caliber of Erik Daniels, a second-straight postseason appearance may be in the cards for the BayHawks. If not, they'll likely find it very challenging to duplicate their first-year success.


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About this blog/blogger

Blog Talk BayHawk is an unofficial Erie BayHawks blog covering the NBA D-League. It features opinions and information about the NBADL and the Erie BayHawks. Blog Talk BayHawk is written from a basketball fan’s perspective to fill In the gaps left by professional journalists’ coverage of BayHawks basketball and the Erie professional basketball scene.

Matt Hubert is a 25-year-old writer and basketball fanatic born and raised in Erie, Pa. He graduated from Mercyhurst College in 2007 with a bachelor's degree in English and a dual concentration in writing and creative writing. Matt's not wavering from his stance as a lifelong Los Angeles Lakers fan, but he will cover the BayHawks' NBA affiliates in Cleveland and Toronto when it makes sense to do so throughout the year.

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