The Santa Cruz Warriors' acquisition of Chris Taft from the Springfield Armor in exchange for the 47th overall pick in the 2013 NBA D-League Draft will bring a familiar face back to the organization to set up what could be a feel-good story.
The misfortune that beset Taft's professional basketball career had cast such a long shadow that when fellow University of Pittsburgh product DeJuan Blair left college early to enter the 2009 NBA Draft with plenty of his own question marks he had to immediately disassociate himself as reported by Newsday back then.
"There were a couple of things that happened with Chris," Blair said. "I feel good about this. I feel good about what I can do. My coach will steer me through the process. I'm going to go in fit and in shape. I'm not Chris Taft. That's another thing."
The 6-foot-10 Taft left Pitt early and, as the Newsday article suggests, was considered a potential lottery pick in the 2005 NBA Draft: Sports Illustrated's Luke Winn reported at the time that, "In a conference with a bumper crop of big men-- Hakim Warrick of Syracuse, Ryan Gomes of Providence and Charlie Villanueva of UConn, to name three-- Taft is the one NBA teams covet most." However, he ended up falling all the way to Golden State at #42 (two picks after Monta Ellis, who also took a bit of a draft day tumble), though he did end up being a minor contributor to Mike Montgomery's mediocre squad.
After appearing in just 17 games in the 2005-06 season as he dealt with back spasms, Taft was eventually released before his second season after he was unable to compete in the preseason prompting Atma Brother ONE to wonder at the time whether, "...he always out of shape because of all the nagging injuries or did he suffer from all those nagging injuries because he was constantly out of shape?"
As it turned out, Taft was indeed facing a career-threatening medical problem, as described by Scott Shroeder at Ridiculous Upside back in 2011 before being drafted by the Springfield Armor in the fourth round of that year's D-League Draft.
Not long after, it was discovered that Taft had polymyositis -- an inflammatory muscle disease that causes weakness of the skeletal muscles, which control movement. For most, being diagnosed with such a disease would easily end any hopes of an NBA career considering the long road it would take to get back to playing at basketball's highest level.
Unfortunately, Taft never played a game for the Armor either but his commitment to continuing to pursue his professional basketball dreams after doctors have been telling him for years that he'd never play again. If indeed he finally breaks through to beat the odds and make the Santa Cruz roster, he'll make for one of a number of guys that should be extremely easy to root for.
Warriors now have nine picks in the 2013 D-League Draft
By trading the 13th pick in the third round that they acquired from the Fort Wayne Mad Ants to acquire Taft, the Warriors now have nine picks in today's draft and still hold three in the third round.
For far more on the draft, check out Ridiculous Upside's storystream which includes a look at what prospects will be available.
Joe Alexander, Seth Curry, Dewayne Dedmon expected to join Santa Cruz
After being released by the Golden State Warriors, all reports suggest that Joe Alexander, Seth Curry, and Dewayne Dedmon will be joining the Santa Cruz Warriors this year. As a reminder of D-League rules, each NBA team can retain the rights of up to three players they released from training camp. Cameron Jones - as well as Jeremy Tyler, who might be on the move according to Ridiculous Upside - is a returning player whose rights Santa Cruz would have since he played there last year, independent of where he was in training camp.
Update at 10:15 am: the Santa Cruz Warriors have just officially announced that Alexander, Curry, and Dedmon will join the team as the first three players on the training camp roster.
For more on the Santa Cruz Warriors, check out our Santa Cruz Warriors section.