Summer league cancellation bad news for Cavs, rookies

BY foxsports • April 18, 2011

No one knows how a potential NBA lockout will affect the Cavaliers. But with the potential lockout shutting down summer-league play … well, now that is an issue.

Last week, several news outlets reported that the NBA has canceled its Las Vegas summer league in preparation for an owner-imposed lockout. The league's collective bargaining agreement expires July 1, and right now, there appears to be little hope the owners and players will come to an agreement before then.

The Vegas summer league, which typically features upwards of 20 teams, takes place during the second week of July. Rosters consist of rookies, free agents and younger members of the current team. Basically, the type of players who the Cavs need to spend the off-season evaluating.

That's especially true when you consider the Cavs have two lottery picks in the upcoming draft -- and three picks in the top 32. They also have a lot of key players who would be prime candidates to participate in summer league, from forwards Samardo Samuels, Luke Harangody and Alonzo Gee, to guards Christian Eyenga and Manny Harris, to center Semih Erden.

When you throw in the draft picks, that's basically half of the Cavs' in-season roster. So no summer league means no off-season practice, no full-speed games, no monitoring from NBA coaches of any kind.

"It will hurt us, no doubt," Cavs coach Byron Scott said of the absence of summer league. "That's where you try to gauge what you have and how guys are coming along."

Last year, the Cavs discovered Samuels and Harris in the summer, with Samuels being signed following a strong performance with Chicago's summer team.

So not only will the Cavs miss out on developing their own players, but they won't be able to find guys who might help them from somewhere else.

On the bright side, the Cavs aren't in this pickle alone. All 30 teams are in the same situation. So if anything positive is to come from all this, it's that no one really gets an edge -- especially if you're talking about teams that failed to make the playoffs. Each is desperate to find younger guys to help in the rebuilding process.

"If you are a young and struggling team, summer league is crucial," said one Western Conference executive. "I'm not saying it will determine the outcome of your next season, but you can make huge strides. For the teams that need it, it's a big deal."

Rookie woes

Something else to consider in all this: The actual players. Or more specifically, those who are drafted in the second round this summer, or worse, not drafted at all -- such as Samuels and Harris last summer).

Not having a summer league offers those types nowhere to showcase their skills, and lessens their shot of becoming discovered and signed as sort of hidden gems.

And when you think about the players potentially on that list, you think about Ohio guys like Ohio State's David Lighty and Jon Diebler, Cleveland State's Norris Cole and Dayton's Chris Wright.

"Those (types of players) could be in trouble with no summer league," said the executive. "Instead of being invited to participate on the summer circuit, they will almost certainly have to try to find a job overseas. And that's not always easy."

Some around the league are predicting a long, trying lockout that lasts well into next winter. Others are predicting a sunnier outlook, saying they wouldn't be surprised if the owners and players reach an 11th-hour agreement.

If it's the latter, the summer league will likely be back on, and it will be business as usual.

"But if not, it's bad news for just about everyone," the executive said. "There's really no happy spin you can put on not having a summer league."

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