For players from KU, K-State and Missouri, the NBA Summer League provides opportunities to make cases for pro roster spots.
Last week, I covered former Jayhawk Sherron Collins' week in the NBA Summer League in Orlando. Since that writing, Collins played his best game for the Bobcats, exploding for 32 points last Sunday with seven 3-pointers and finished the week averaging 12.5 points per game in four contests. With the Las Vegas edition of the summer league culminating on Sunday, there are several local products who are on the hunt for training camp invitations.
Ex-Tiger Leo Lyons has positioned himself well after a solid performance for the Knicks, averaging 16 points in his last two contests after failing to crack double digits in his first two games. The Knicks have plenty of roster spots up for grabs since losing out on LeBron James, so like Collins, Lyons probably deserves a longer look when training camp invitations are extended in the coming weeks.
Elsewhere in Sin City, former Jayhawk Russell Robinson is making a case for a training camp invitation. Robinson received limited minutes for the Nets' summer league team last week, but latched on for the D-League Select squad in Vegas. Since the D-League team isn't affiliated with any particular pro team, minutes flow more freely for journeymen like Robinson.
The summer league was also peppered with former Big 12 players who are already under contract with pro teams and were just looking to stay fresh and develop their games, particularly with the Memphis Grizzlies.
In Vegas, former Jayhawk Darrell Arthur proved himself healthy after missing over half of last season due to injury. In four games with the Grizzlies, he averaged 11 points and 5.5 rebounds and, provided he stays healthy, figures to provide depth in the low post for Memphis next season. DeMarre Carroll, another Grizzly, will compete with Arthur after posting solid totals himself.
For fans who tuned in looking to see Xavier Henry's pro career get rolling with the Grizzlies, a rare rookie contract dispute prevented him from taking the floor. For those unfamiliar with the NBA's rookie pay scale, draft position dictates a slotted salary for each player, and each team can pay between 80 and 120 percent of that amount to their rookies. These predetermined amounts are intended to prevent the lengthy holdouts that are common for rookies in the NFL and MLB.
To most NBA GM's, that difference is so marginal (less than $500,000 in most cases) that they usually just sign their rookies to the maximum amount to get them playing as quickly as possible and to establish confidence and good rapport. Grizzlies GM Chris Wallace, however, is choosing to play by his own rules.
Those initial contracts also lock in the player's salary for his first four seasons, with the last two being option years, so the premise of management pinching pennies right off the bat to make rookies "earn" their pay doesn't really hold water under the current system. You can read more about the dispute here.
Be on the lookout for more news as NBA teams assemble their preseason camps in September.