Five thoughts from Las Vegas (cont'd)
3. Memphis' third 'lottery' pick
No general manager is more maligned than the Grizzlies' Chris Wallace. Over the last 12 months, Wallace has been accused of everything from handing the Lakers the Western Conference crown to getting swindled by Kevin McHale in the Love-Mayo swap.
But it might be time to give Wallace a reprieve. Mayo averaged 18.8 points and 3.6 assists in summer league and looked every bit the potential All-Star for which he has been billed. Wallace also may have found a gem in the Lakers' deal in 7-1, 265-pound center Marc (don't call me Pau) Gasol, who was not on Memphis' summer league team (he had already committed to the Spanish national team) but comes to the Grizzlies with an impressive résumé. He won the ACB league's Most Valuable Player award last season and was one of two ACB players to rank in the top five in scoring (fifth), rebounding (third) and blocks (third). The younger Gasol's 65.3 field goal percentage with Akasvayu Girona was second in the league.
But that may not even be Wallace's coup de grace. In former Kansas star Darrell Arthur, the Grizzlies believe they have secured a third "lottery" pick. According to sources, Arthur is still seething over a draft-day circus that saw the 6-foot-9 forward slip from a potential lottery pick to a late first-round selection thanks to teams being misinformed about a possible kidney ailment. Adding insult to, well, insult was the fact that Arthur was traded three times before eventually winding up in Memphis.
"He's playing with a big chip on his shoulder," one front-office source said.
That's good news for Memphis.
4. The Sixers have some trade bait
The signing of Elton Brand has left Philadelphia with a bit of a logjam at power forward. With Brand, who has averaged 38.3 minutes in his career, expected to log heavy minutes at the position, incumbents Reggie Evans and Jason Smith will be fighting for the backup minutes.
If Sixers GM Ed Stefanski is looking to trade one (and there have been no indications that he is), Smith has value. The 6-10, 240-pound forward averaged 15.6 points and 8.0 rebounds in a superb summer league. Several scouts were impressed by Smith's improved ability to knock down the mid-range jump shot with regularity.
"He's a starter in this league," an Eastern Conference scout said. "No question."
Smith will make $1.3 million this season, and with team options at $1.4 and $2.2 million the following two years, he is one of the league's best bargains.
5. The Darius Miles dilemma
SI.com colleague Ian Thomsen started a mini-firestorm in Las Vegas with his column on the possible return of injured forward Darius Miles. Several media outlets have endeavored to advance the story and there have been no shortage of opinions in Vegas on whether a team should take a chance on Miles.
Most, at least in my reporting, have been against it.
"Why would anyone pick him up?" one league source said. "He's the same guy he was with the Clippers and the same he was with Portland. Nothing has changed."
SI.com All-Vegas Summer League Team
PG -- Jerryd Bayless, Portland