Free agency isn't yet a week old, the Clippers still have a half empty roster, they still don't have a coach.... so naturally, it's time for summer league to start! In fact, it has already started in Orlando, where my guy Gordon Hayward made a crucial three pointer in the final minute of a Utah win earlier today. The Las Vegas Summer League starts on Saturday, with the Clippers first game being Monday, July 12 against John Wall and the Wizards. The team has a mini training camp Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Presumably they'll have at least a Summer League coach by then, and hopefully one that has been chosen by the head coach.
The Clippers official summer roster was announced today. We already knew a lot about the team. We knew that DeAndre Jordan was planning on playing. We knew that draft picks Al-Farouq Aminu, Eric Bledsoe and Willie Warren would be there. We knew that undrafted rookie Marqus Blakely (an amazing athlete with a wingspan over 7 feet indefiance of his 6'5" height) had been snapped up as well.
At the shooting guard spot the Clippers will be auditioning Trey Johnson and Jeremy Richardson, a couple of players who've had a cup of coffee in the Assoc. At point guard, the minutes will go to Bledsoe and Warren and former Wright State star Dashaun Wood.
D-League All Star (and accomplished blogger) Rod Benson will get a chance to show his stuff as well.
The most interesting inclusions on the team this summer are Sofoklis Schortsianitis (MBFGC) and Nik Caner-Medley (NCM).
The Clippers have held the NBA rights to MBFGC since they drafted him way back in 2003 (the same year they drafted Chris Kaman). He's played in his native Greece that whole time, and has also been on Greece's national team in several major competitions. In fact, he was integral in the Greece victory over Team USA in the World Championships in 2006. His weight has fluctuated significantly over the years, at one point reportedly moving way above 400 pounds, at which point his Greek team, Olympiakos sent him to a fat farm in Switzerland. However, he's back down to a (for him) svelte 315, and had a very productive season last year. This is the ideal opportunity for him to break into the NBA (in fact, it may be his last chance) since he's not under contract in Europe right now. Both he and the Clippers seem very interested in making it happen. We knew he'd be over in the states working with the team, but the last I heard he was a long shot to participate in Summer League games. It remains to be seen if his name was included on the roster just in case he gets a chance to play or if this means he's definitely playing.
NCM was a member of the Clippers' summer league squad last July, and was easily the best of the unsigned players. Unfortunately for him, the Clippers roster last season was a little more full, and he did not get his crack at the NBA. However, with LA needing anywhere from six to eight players to round out their roster, and with some of those destined to go to minimum salary guys, NCM actually has an outside chance of making the roster. A terrific athlete, a strong rebounder, with a solid face up game and a motor that never stops, NCM was the fifth starter on last year's summer league squad along with Mike Taylor, Eric Gordon, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan, and frankly he more than held his own with those NBA players. I'm very pleased to see him back on the roster.
It looks like I'll be going to the Clippers' middle three games in Vegas, Wednesday through Saturday. Let me know if you're going to be around and we can try to get together to talk.