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Knicks' Light Summer League Roster Doesn't Spell Doom

Fear not, NBA fans (and especially you, Knicks fans) -- your NBA Summer League roster isn't quite as important as it might seem.


LAS VEGAS -- The New York Knicks sent away the majority of their Summer League roster in order to get Marcus Camby. While that certainly doesn't seem like it should pose a problem in the interim, things certainly didn't look promising this weekend for the Summer League squad at the Cox Pavilion.

Instead of former draft picks like Toney Douglas, Jerome Jordan and Josh Harrellson being given the chance to show they have something promising coming to Madison Square Garden in the near future, the Knicks instead trotted out a lineup that featured new signee James White and a bunch of less-than-stellar summer camp invites.

Gone were the days when I imagined that Harrellson, sporting the ever-marketable nickname of "Jorts," might ignite a collection of basketball lovers into a frenzy. No longer was there a chance of a "Do What Toney Douglas Do" chant breaking out after an amazing play on the UNLV campus. And, perhaps most unfortunate, Knicks fans will never get to see what Jerome Jordan accomplished with a year of seasoning overseas -- and another spent primarily in the D-League -- after they bought a pick to select him as a promising rookie out of Tulsa.

Instead -- aside from James White -- the Knicks roster featured an abundance of also-rans like Belgium star Chris Copeland, Mychel Thompson -- the less famous son of Mychal Thompson and brother of Golden State Warriors standout Klay Thompson -- and former Radford standout Artsiom Parakhouski. None were outright terrible, of course, but they might likely have rightly made Knicks fans worry a bit for the future.

Along with the young prospects now formerly property of the Knicks, New York is now also without its second-round pick in the 2013 NBA Draft (Tyson Chandler trade), the 2014 first round (Carmelo Anthony trade) and the 2014 and 2015 second rounds following the completion of the Camby trade. That doesn't set up for much of a chance to rebuild for the future and, unfortunately, it doesn't seem that there's much in the pipeline already developing.

Before this column gets too doom and gloom, it's important to note that Summer League rosters are rarely indicative of regular season success. In most cases, however, usually at least a few pieces owned by the team have ridiculous upside. Knicks opponent Memphis Grizzlies, for instance, boasted a solid backcourt with first-round pick Tony Wroten and second-year pro Josh Selby while young free agents Jerome Randle and Matt Janning put together solid games themselves.

Not all is lost in New York, though, as one scout in attendance noted that the lack of talent could greatly improve once training camp rolls around this fall -- leaving just a few short months until the gloom leaves Madison Square Garden.

"The team on the floor right now looks like it was put together more for the D-League than as a team the Knicks are interested in bringing to camp," the scout said. "The timing of the Camby trade didn't do them any favors in terms of bringing in talent to fill the holes that were created."

In fact, this might not be such a bad thing in the long run considering the Knicks should be a rather simple sell for players just hoping to find their way on to an NBA roster. New York currently has just 10 players with guaranteed contracts on their roster for next season, giving them at least three openings on their 2012-13 season roster.

There likely won't be that many openings on the majority of rosters around the league, either, meaning the top performers in Vegas will likely be interested in joining the Knicks this fall either way -- with or without the luxury of familiarity that comes with the summer league roster spot.

"The best players in Vegas aren't going to be married to the teams they played for down here," the scout said. "Players looking for a chance to play in the league are going to go to camp with whichever team gives them the best opportunity to stick and, typically, that's where ever the least amount of players are under guaranteed contracts."

And that, there, is the beauty of the NBA underworld. Whereas plenty of fans are concentrating on their teams only as it pertains to the future, there are more than 250 players in Vegas looking for their next opportunity -- and 30 teams in Vegas trying to find which one of those players deserves it.

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