Summer league news is some good and some bad for the Tar Heels.
The NBA Summer League regular season is over with Theo Pinson of the Brooklyn Nets the only former Heel going on to the playoffs. There some consolation games for the teams that didn’t make the post-summer league, but I have no earthly idea why.
First the good. Tony Bradley, who I completed discounted in this space recently, now has a decent chance to get a third year of his rookie contract from Utah after averaging a double-double for the NBA team’s summer league club. It’s not guaranteed, and the Jazz have to award a contract to Bradley, who has yet to prove he can hang with actual NBA players. But at least he has a chance.
Coby White showed some of his natural brilliance with the Bulls’ summer league team, but he heads for training camp as the No. 3 point guard on the Chicago roster unless former Providence College star Kris Dunn gets traded. While Coby still has more than $9 million guaranteed, he has not shown enough so far to avoid playing for both the Bulls and their G-League team. Training camp in October will reveal more of Coby’s rookie fate.
Cameron Johnson did not play for the Phoenix Suns’ summer league team, joining fellow first-round draft pick Ty Jerome of Virginia in the Suns’ off-season workout program to get stronger. Johnson is still guaranteed just under $7 million, but will have to earn a roster spot during training camp or play at least part of his rookie season in the G League.
Bad luck continued to bite Nassir Little, who was thought to be a middle first-round draft choice, but sat with his family in agony until he was picked by the Portland Trail Blazers at No. 25. Little injured his elbow early in summer league play and was held out for the remaining games. He is due more than $3.5 million, but where he will be when he gets his checks remains to be seen.
The Blazers are one of the few NBA franchises without a G-League team, so how can Little practice and get coaching if he doesn’t make the big team and has to work out on his own?
Frankly, the best luck for Little would be if the Blazers traded him to a franchise active in the G League, so he can practice or play every day for an organized team with a coaching staff and shake the label of a great athlete for one with an NBA name on it.