Evan Turner got his butt kicked.
And in an interview with the Philadelphia Inquirer, he admitted it — Summer League was not good to him.
“I’ve been playing pretty much every day against good competition,” Turner said. “It was really an eye-opener for me to get my butt kicked, but it was also a good thing, I think. That hasn’t happened to me in a really long time, so it made me realize how much harder I had to work to get myself ready for training camp. I can’t wait to get started and play with my new teammates and learn from them, and get ready for the season.”
Turner blamed conditioning issues for his poor play, although it was pretty clear he was also struggling to adjust to the speed and athleticism of NBA-level players. He seemed to be over-thinking, trying to find where his game fits in. Turner averaged 9.4 points per game and had more turnovers than assists.
The good news is that it was Summer League. It is the North Dakota presidential primary of the NBA — not wholly irrelevant, but pretty close. Stephen Curry struggled in the 2009 Summer League, and now 29 other teams covet him.
But Turner only gets better if he works at it now. And he is.
“I’ve talked to coach [Doug] Collins quite a bit since being drafted,” Turner said. “I really love his enthusiasm for the game and how excited he is for the season. I’ve talked to some of my teammates and am looking forward to getting to know them better. I’ve talked to ‘Iggy’ [Andre Iguodala] and he’s been giving me some really good advice. Everything so far is going really well. I just can’t wait to get it all started.”
UPDATE 11:08 AM: According to Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic, it’s not a make-good deal after all. Despite earlier reports from the Republic pointing to a fully unguaranteed, make-good agreement, the Suns have signed Lawal to a three-year contract with the initial season fully guaranteed for $473,604. The second and third seasons will only be partially guaranteed, and could be options.
8:00 AM: It was a little hard to judge Gani Lawal coming into the draft. He was a power forward for Georgia Tech which meant two things: He had Derrick Favors on the other side of the lane drawing a lot of attention, and he had point guards incapable of getting him the ball in a good position.
So he dropped to the second round, where the Phoenix Suns grabbed him at 46.
Then Lawal went to Summer League in Vegas and impressed — he was athletic, hard working and consistent. He got out on the break, he was very good at drawing contact and getting to the line. He averaged 15.4 points and 7.4 rebounds per game. Suns coaches spoke well of him, as did scouts watching the games.
The Suns and Lawal have agreed to a deal, according to the Arizona Republic. This is a make-good contract — meaning he gets invited to training camp but the deal is not guaranteed. They can still cut him.
Lawal has a chance to make the roster, however. For one thing, the Suns now have just 12 people under contract, so there is roster room. Also, he showed at Summer League he can play in the system, and coaches like guys who are hard workers. He could fill that Lou Amundson role coming off the bench. At least, he’ll get the chance to prove he can.
Jeremy Lin has struck it rich in Las Vegas.
Lin, one of the stars of Vegas Summer League, is very close to a deal with the Golden State Warriors, according to both ESPN and the Contra Costa Times. Lin would be returning home with his deal, he is a Palo Alto native. He also would be the first player from Harvard in the NBA since 1954.
This is not a guaranteed deal — he can still be cut during training camp or at any time in the first few months of the season. How Golden State got him was guaranteeing a buyout of half of his nearly $500,000 first year salary if he is cut. The Dallas Mavericks (his Summer League team) and Los Angeles Lakers were also interested in Lin, but they offered smaller buyouts if he was cut (the minimum salary would have been the same anywhere). Also, the second year of Lin’s deal is a team option.
Lin might well make the Warriors, however. Stephen Curry is going to get the lion’s share of minutes at the point, and Monta Ellis will get some, but the Warriors just traded away last season’s backup C.J. Watson. They need a backup point now, and Lin is going to get the chance to get the job.
Lin won over Summer League fans in Vegas because he plays a fearless game. Nobody attacked the rim as hard as him, as relentlessly. His game is not fully NBA ready — got to improve his jumper, he’s got to finish at a higher rate near the rim. But he has a great feel for the game, makes smart passes and is the kind of guy that will change the mood of a practice because he will not coast. Coaches love players who maximize their talents, and Lin is one of those guys.
And it looks like he is going to make it.