For the 17 players on the Sacramento Kings’ Summer League roster, the next ten days are a test. They’re an evaluation of not just of their abilities on the basketball court, but how they handle themselves off it as well.
“It is about business,” said Kings assistant and co-Summer League head coach Alex English after their last mini-camp practice yesterday. “They’re there to get a job and this is a great opportunity for them because all of the teams are going to be there. They’re going to have some representative watching them at all times.
“It’s important you go down there and stay out of trouble,” the Hall of Fame ex-player added. “Really focus on your basketball game and try and get a job.”
Temptation comes in all forms in the city of sin. If you have a vice, Las Vegas will be sure to expose it. Maybe that’s why the gambling capital of the world is the perfect place to find out just how committed these NBA youngsters and hopefuls are.
“You’re going to Vegas,” said big man Darnell Jackson, who’s back with the Kings after a stint overseas last year in Ukraine. “You’ve got gambling, you’ve got clubs, partying, beautiful women around and its open to the public.”
As one of the elder statesmen on this Kings Summer League squad, Jackson is taking it upon himself to hold his younger teammates accountable. He plans on reminding them that the next week is about business if they hope to make their hoop dreams come true.
“Everybody’s out auditioning,” said the 26-year-old power forward. “You’re auditioning not just for the Kings, you’re auditioning for every team in the NBA. So you have to be respectful, on the court and off the court. Just be professional whatever you’re doing.”
Taking on that leadership role means probably becoming the resident killjoy. But Jackson seems to not mind and is willing to nag teammates when necessary.
“At the end of the day, everybody’s a human being (and) everybody makes mistakes,” Jackson said. “You’ve just got to tell them. Some guys are stubborn, some guys listen.”
Rookie Dominique Johnson believes that sticking together will help team focus. The 25-year-old invitee explained that the Kings are implementing a kind of “buddy system” to ensure no man gets left behind.
“Making sure we get each other up on time,” Johnson said, explaining the system after yesterday’s practice. “Make sure nobody goes nowhere by themselves. Just trying to protect everybody…Especially for Thomas (Robinson), there’s going to be a lot of attention faced on him.”
If there’s one message the Kings brass has for its summer league roster, coach English summed it up best.
“We tell them there’s a lot of stuff in Las Vegas,” he said with a grin. “So you want to leave it in Las Vegas.”