Only one NBA team is participating in two summer leagues — the Oklahoma City Thunder. For good reason. More basketball means more opportunities for general manager Sam Presti and the coaching staff to finalize their training camp roster. Summer leagues have two primary benefits — players get a taste of professional basketball. Front office executives evaluate players. "The summer league is important for a younger team,” Presti said. "It gives you an idea where guys are fundamentally. It gives us a road map where guys are individually. It also gives young players a chance to play and start a bond.” Because games in Orlando and Las Vegas essentially are glorified pick-up games, don’t place much stock in how James Harden, the Thunder’s No. 3 overall selection, fares in 10 summer league games in Orlando and Vegas. It’s difficult to gain much insight from preseason games in October, almost impossible in the summer. For those unfamiliar with summer league basketball, the two premier leagues are opposite. Orlando has only six teams and doesn’t allow fans to watch games. Only the media and team executives are allowed to attend. Las Vegas features 21 teams and has seen an increase in attendance every year since the league was formed in 2004. Sessions averaged more than 4,000 fans last summer. "In some ways it resembles the baseball winter meetings in terms of trade activity, media interest, discussions, both on and off the record,” NBA deputy commissioner Adam Silver was quoted last summer. "It’s an incredibly vibrant place to be.” Since Kevin Durant plans to be in Las Vegas, he was asked if he will give Harden, his new teammate, some advice. "It seems so long ago for me,” Durant said. "It’s a fun time. Anxious. Nervous. A lot of different feelings. Just being drafted to the highest level of basketball, you can’t beat that... I know (the rookies) will be excited.” Truth is, most of the players on the Thunder summer league roster won’t be on the training camp roster in October. Most NBA teams only have a few roster spots available. Even if a player like Marcus Dove, the former Oklahoma State small forward, plays well, it doesn’t guarantee he will be invited to training camp. Players dream that summer league success will help them land an NBA roster spot. Reality is, summer league games often are auditions for better overseas contracts. Coaches and general managers from every continent attend games. An eye-opening performance could be the difference between a $40,000 paycheck in Latvia, a $90,000 contract in Belgium or a $130,000 deal in France or Spain. A perfect example is Gabe Muoneke. The undersized power forward who played at Texas, scored 31 points last season in a game in Orlando. Muoneke, 29, knew he wasn’t going to play in the NBA, but it helped improve his overseas stock. Last summer, Russell Westbrook, a player some felt was taken too high at No. 4, created a buzz in summer league that carried over into the season. Just don’t place much stock in what happens. Unlike the famous commercial, what happens in summer league basketball doesn’t stay in Vegas. It’s merely the starting point for first-round draft picks, overseas auditions for everyone else.
Summer league Schedules
ORLANDO→Monday — Orlando, 4 p.m. →Tuesday — Indiana, 6 p.m. →Wednesday — Boston, 4 p.m. →Thursday — NJ/Philadelphia, 2 p.m. →Friday — Utah, 10 a.m.
LAS VEGAS→July 12 — Memphis, 7 p.m. →July 14 — LA Lakers, 7:30 p.m. →July 15 — San Antonio, 7:30 p.m. →July 17 — Chicago, 7:30 p.m. →July 18 — Dallas, 3 p.m.
Summer league Roster→DeAngelo Alexander G, 6-5, Charlotte →Marcus Dove F, 6-9, Oklahoma State →Moses Ehambe F, 6-6, Oral Roberts →James Harden G, 6-5, Arizona State →Devon Hardin C, 6-11, California →Kyle Hines F/C, 6-6, UNC Greensboro →Serge Ibaka F, 6-10, Congo →Shaun Livingston G, 6-7, Peoria Central HS (IL) →Keith McLeod G, 6-2, Bowling Green State →B.J. Mullens C, 7-0, Ohio State →Richard Roby G, 6-6, Colorado →Doug Thomas F, 6-8, Iowa →Kyle Weaver G, Washington State →Russell Westbrook G, 6-3, UCLA →D.J. White F, 6-9, Indiana →Robert Vaden G, 6-5, Alabama-Birmingham