Rookies will have an opportunity to learn and to prove they belong in the NBA. Second- and third-year NBA players can show they're progressing. And journeymen can earn invitations to NBA training camps.
The 2012 AirTran Airways Orlando Pro Summer League will begin Monday morning with an exhibition game between the Magic and the Brooklyn Nets, and will be followed by three more games Monday. Here are some of the most intriguing Magic and non-Magic storylines to monitor.
Magic officials are eager to see their 2012 draft picks, first-rounder Andrew Nicholson and second-rounderKyle O'Quinn. Nicholson, a 6-foot-9 power forward from St. Bonaventure, and O'Quinn, a 6-foot-10 center/power forward from Norfolk State, started playing competitive basketball late in high school. It'll be interesting to see how they respond.
Questions about Dwight Howard's uncertain future loom over the event. Magic general manager Rob Hennigan and Nets general manager Billy King have been in contact for days about a possible trade involving Howard. According to cbssports.com, the Nets on Sunday made some progress in finding a third team — potentially the Cleveland Cavaliers — to take on the contract of Kris Humphries in a sign-and-trade deal.
Nets shooting guard MarShon Brooks, who will play in the summer league, could be included in a potential deal for Howard. As a rookie, Brooks averaged 12.6 points and 2.3 assists per game.
Magic second-year player Justin Harper will be playing in his first summer league after last year's lockout forced the cancellation of the 2011 event. The labor dispute and the compressed schedule that followed put Harper and other 2011-12 rookies at a disadvantage. Now Harper, who is 6-9, wants to show he belongs in the NBA. He also wants to prove he can play small forward as well as power forward.
Andre Drummond, a 6-foot-11 center out of UConn, arguably is the Orlando league's most intriguing player. Going into last month's draft, he was considered to be a boom-or-bust prospect; he has all the physical ability to be a star, but many scouts worried that he's raw and inconsistent. The Detroit Pistons selected him with the ninth overall pick in June's draft. The Pistons will open their summer-league schedule at 3 Monday afternoon against the Utah Jazz.
Forwards Jared Sullinger and Perry Jones III slid in the draft amid reports that teams were concerned about medical issues. The Boston Celtics used the 21st pick in the draft to select Sullinger, who was said to have an issue with his back. The Oklahoma City Thunder used the 28th pick to select Jones, who was said to have a meniscus issue in one of his knees. The Celtics and Thunder will play each other at 1 Monday afternoon.
The event is closed to the public because of space limitations. A Magic official said about 300 people — including media, agents and team support staff — have been credentialed for the event. Space will be at a premium.
Magic free agents
Point guard Ish Smith and shooting guard DeAndre Liggins played for the Magic last season but are unrestricted free agents now. Smith and Liggins are on the Magic's summer-league team and the next five days are important for their futures.
A pair of former Sunshine State college stars, Al Thornton and Taurean Green, will suit up for the Nets in the days ahead. Thornton, a former FSU forward, hasn't quite met expectations in the NBA after he was selected 14th overall in 2007 by the Los Angeles Clippers. Green, a former UF point guard, played professionally in Turkey this past season.
Price is right
Former NBA All-Star Mark Price worked as the Magic's player development coach last season, and he'll be the Magic's summer-league coach. His assistant coaches will be Bo Outlaw and Brent Price.
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