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Skyforce Shake Up

Through fourteen games of the NBA Development League season, the Sioux Falls Skyforce are vastly improved from the previous two years.  Better is not good enough as two trades seek to bolster the Skyforce.

Gone from the ‘Force is guard Andrew Goudelock who will now play for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers.   Arriving soon will be two former Cleveland Cavaliers in guard Donald Sloan and forward Mychel Thompson via the Erie BayHawks.  RGV will send forward Mike Singletary to Erie to complete the carousel.  A separate trade sends 7-footer Hassan Whiteside to the Vipers in exchange for forward Damian Saunders.  This trade means that Sioux Falls sends out two NBA caliber players and get three in return.

Goudelock is among the top scorers this season in the D-League after spending time with the Los Angeles Lakers last season.  The College of Charleston guard was the first round choice of the Skyforce in the draft in November.  Whiteside was a pickup as insurance for the eventual call-up of Jarvis Varnado after spending two seasons with the Sacramento Kings.

Sloan was part of the Pan-Am team along with former Skyforce big man Greg Stiemsma that won the bronze medal in 2011. Sloan was with Erie for a good portion of last season before playing his way on the rosters of Atlanta, New Orleans and Cleveland for 33 games.  Sloan stuck with the Cavaliers at the end of last season but was cut on December 27.  Sloan was still property of the BayHawks after his NBA release.

Mychel Thompson had just a 5-game audition with the Cavaliers last season, but has been a consistent double digit scorer in his D-League career.  If the name sounds familiar, it is.  Thompson is also the son of Mychal (note the spelling) Thompson the first pick in the NBA draft by Portland in 1978.

Damian Saunders hasn’t officially played in the NBA, but was in the Houston Rockets in 2011 training camp and was eventually allocated to Rio Grande Valley.  Saunders scored in double digits last year, but is down this year in all his stats.

With the two departures and three arrivals, this shows that the Skyforce organization is going to make bold moves in order to improve.  It also means that the players are on notice that when you come to Sioux Falls, you will adhere to the precepts of what the organization wants to do.

There is also an element of a calculated bet on the part of the ‘Force when it comes to their bigs.  Varnado could be released by Boston before his contract is guaranteed on January 9 then return to Sioux Falls.  Also the Skyforce have Arnett Moultrie and Dexter Pittman as NBA assignees for a little while yet.  Saunders will have the luxury of a gradual transition at forward with established talent already in the stable.

As for the backcourt, Sloan is a candidate for a call-up, which would put Sioux Falls at the top of the list in the player pool selection process.  If Sloan happens to stick around for a while, that could be exciting.  Thompson can play guard or forward and defend as well.  Regardless, the new members won’t grace the Sioux Falls Arena floor for a while as the Skyforce play in Reno tonight and the L.A. D-Fenders Saturday night.

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