The NBA has released the Las Vegas Summer League schedule. There's still a lot we don't know... most importantly, we have no idea who's actually going to be playing for any of the teams, and that includes Blake Griffin, who may or may not be there. But here's what we do know:
Dates - Saturday July 9th through Sunday July 18th. As has been the case for several years, the event is held in Las Vegas at the adjacent Cox Pavilion and the Thomas and Mack Arena on the campus of UNLV. In case you are thinking about going, I have a quick little tip for you: Las Vegas is hot in July. Really, really hot.
Teams - It looks as if 21 of the 30 NBA teams will be in attendance. In addition, there will be a D-League all star team competing as well, bringing the list of teams to 22. If you think the D-League team might be a let down, I'll say this - at least those guys are playing hard. They were in fact one of the more fun squads to watch last year. The list of teams is as follows: Atlanta, Chicago, Cleveland, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Golden State, Houston, Lakers, Clippers, Washington, Memphis, Miami, Milwaukee, Minnesota, New York, New Orleans, Phoenix, Sacramento, San Antonio, Toronto and the D-League team.
The Clippers schedule:
- Monday July 12, 7 PM, Cox Pavilion. The Clippers will open on Monday July 12 against the Washington Wizards. In case you had forgotten, the Wizards won the Draft Lottery. So in all likelihood, assuming they pick him and assuming he plays in Summer League, this game will feature John Wall. In fact, since it is the first game for the Wizards in Vegas, it will probably be Wall's pro debut.
- Wednesday July 14, 5 PM, Cox Pavilion. The second game is against Chicago. There's not a lot of marquee value we can anticipate from the Bulls. Second year pro Taj Gibson may be there, and they'll be drafting in the middle of the first round, 17th overall.
- Thursday, July 15, 7 PM, Cox Pavilion. Portland is the opponent, and they could certainly field an interesting team. Bearing in mind that summer league usually features rookies and players with one year of experience, the Blazers team could feature three members of the big squad, Dante Cunningham, Jeff Pendergraph and Patty Mills, in addition to the 22nd pick. But with the Blazers, there's always the possiblity that one of the former picks they've got stashed in Europe could play, guys like Joel Freeland and Petteri Koponen.
- Saturday, July 17, 5 PM, Cox Pavilion. The opponent is the Spurs, which could conceivably mean a Blake Griffin vs. DeJuan Blair showdown. Like the Blazers, the Spurs still have some prospects stashed in Europe. But in some ways, they may have done too well drafting these guys. A guy like Tiago Splitter may never make come to the NBA, as his rookie scale salary would be a pay cut compared to what he's making in Spain.
- Sunday, July 18, 5:30 PM, Thomas and Mack. This is actually the final game of the 2010 Summer League, and it will feature the Clippers versus the D-League team. Like I said before, though you have no idea who you're going to see (most of the best D-League players are on other rosters at least for Summer League), these guys are playing really hard in an attempt to get noticed.
We'll have more chances to talk about Summer League as it gets closer, and as we know more about who will be playing for the Clippers. As of now, there are three intriguing names that those of us heading to Vegas can hope to watch: the lottery pick, whoever he is; Blake Griffin; and Sofoklis Schortsianitis, MBFGC.
The Clippers had hoped to have Sofo in Vegas last year, but a mix-up with FIBA over whether players with active international contracts could play put the last minute kaibash on the plan. Sofo is a free agent this summer (his Olympiakos contract is ended), so contractual problems shouldn't be an issue. However, with the World Championships looming in Turkey in August and Sofo expected to be a big part of Team Hellas, one can certainly imagine other reasons why he might not be in Vegas.
As for Griffin, he has nothing and everything to prove in Vegas. He was the MVP of the Summer League last year, and was already a man among boys then. However, he hasn't played competitive full court basketball in about nine months - knowing his competitive spirit, I'm sure he's itching to get back on the court and to dunk on some rookie free agent's noggin (or better yet, on Derrick Favors or DeJuan Blair).
The bad news is that among the teams NOT sending a team to Vegas are Philadelphia and New Jersey. With those teams picking second and third in the draft, odds are that Evan Turner and DeMarcus Cousins will not be in action.