With Ric Bucher reporting earlier this week that the NBA Summer League will adopt a March Madness-style tournament format, the league’s bottom feeders have begun bolstering their coaching and scouting staffs for a chance at legitimacy.
Summer League play, rivaling only high school varsity games in terms of atmosphere, is largely unknown outside of basketball purist circles. It’s a time for rookies, second year players, and rehabbing veterans to showcase their talents and inevitably dodge a spectator who nearly ran onto the floor after watching a spectacular dunk. The gyms are hot, the television coverage is spotty, and the uniforms are baggy.
But some team front offices took the Summer League announcement very seriously, hoping it could be that something for them to hang their hats once the embarrassment of another losing season begins to fade. When asked about the prospect of hoisting a shiny summer league plaque could mean for the Wizards, President of Basketball Operations Ernie Grunfeld reclined in his chair and smiled. “It would mean everything.”
“I can make lottery picks, have them show out in the Summer League tournament, and hopefully we can grab some titles. My international picks get a shade of real NBA gameplay without the pressure of coming over. It’s like this plan was made for me.”
One Orlando Magic spokesman remarked, “It’s incredible. We thought our entire franchise would be forgotten, but we have a reason to play now.”
Some Summer League alumni who’ve bounced in and out of the NBA see the new format as a chance to gain lost glory. “Oh, my phone’s been blowing up,” said Khalid El-Amin. “Pistons, Kings, Bobcats – they all want me in Vegas right after the draft.”
Adam Morrison, Sean May, and Daniel Ewing are also reportedly high on a lot of teams’ lists due to their ties to winning programs. “What they lack in skill now, they make up for in tradition,” said one Cavaliers assistant. “We need that spirit around to influence our guys over that grueling two weeks.”
Sources have confirmed that Antoine Walker has been spotted working out in an Illinois gym, but he could not be reached for comment.