Yes, we can gasp all we want about reports that link Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant or Dwyane Wade to European destinations. The NBA rumor cycle, even amid a lockout, must, after all, be fed 24-7-365.
But whether any of that happens certainly will be more of a September or October story, if it is a story at all.
No, what July is about, what it always has been about, lockout or no lockout, are the players who fill out rosters, those at the end of the bench.
And that makes this week’s biggest story this:
Jacob Pullen has signed to play for Series A Pallacanestro Biella of the Italian League, in a city of about 50,000 in the foothills of the Alps.
Granted, Pullen went undrafted in June coming out of Kansas State. But we are talking about Kansas State’s all-time leading scorer, a player with the fourth-highest point total in Big 12 history, someone who helped guide the Wildcats to the NCAA Tournament in three of his four seasons, the final three played in the absence of former running partner Michael Beasley.
The official NBA Draft guide when as far as to note, “Excellent perimeter scorer capable of creating his own shot. Gets to the free-throw line well. Good at running pick-and-rolls. Tough and energetic defender.”
Prior to the draft, Pullen auditioned for the Kings, Nuggets, Suns, Bobcats, Heat, Timberwolves, among other teams. This is not a case of a player deemed unworthy of an NBA tryout.
During a typical offseason, he would have graced the roster of one team during the Orlando Pro Summer League and another during the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas.
Both of those events, of course, were canceled.
Because of that, there was no one there to offer the type of small guarantee that often keeps such a known quantity stateside for training camp, where increased exposure can be gained during the preseason.
It is the type of partial guarantee that John Lucas III received last summer from the Bulls, Marquis Blakely received from the Clippers, Kenny Hasbrouck received from the Heat, Patrick Ewing Jr. received from the Knicks, Tweety Carter received from the Thunder, figures that generally range from $50,000 to $150,000.
The NBA will be just fine without Jacob Pullen.
But just about every year a Jacob Pullen becomes some team’s, well, Gary Neal, someone who makes the most of an opportunity because the opportunity is there in the first place.
Yes, Deron Williams is planning a Turkish retreat, but his NBA future is secure. The Nets know when the lockout is over they will have an All-Star point guard in place.
But when a team is looking for a backup point guard during camp or for an injury replacement at midseason, there might not be as many options in 2011-12, with the Jacob Pullens of the world locking themselves into Euros at a time when the dollars simply aren’t there.
Ira Winderman writes regularly for NBCSports.com and covers the Heat and the NBA for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. You can follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/IraHeatBeat.