Training Camp starts in a fortnight for NBA teams ahead of the 2018-2019 campaign. Following the NBA Awards, Draft Night and Summer League, training camp and preseason games represent the last bit of business prior to the season’s opening game.
Teams will have a lot of sorting out to do regarding which players make the final roster. While youngsters like Ghana’s Amida Brimah will be hoping to latch onto an NBA roster for the first time, long term veterans like Monta Ellis and Brandon Rush look for a route back into the league via training camp. But others go into the camps virtually assured of a place on a team’s roster for the upcoming season.
However, there a lot of variations that exist for different players and after bouncing around the league, Jerian Grant could extend his stay in the league should he play well for Orlando Magic.
With Magic in dire need of production from the lead Guard position, Grant will have extended time on the court than he had at Chicago Bulls and New York Knicks. Other players with a higher profile than Grant are strangely in a similar position and are betting on a big campaign to score long term runs in the league.
DeMarcus Cousins, Golden State Warriors
It is fitting Golden State will be in action on opening night in the season when it plays Oklahoma City Thunder at the Oracle Arena. While much focus will be placed on how Russell Westbrook reacts to Kevin Durant’s ring ceremony, the biggest news should center on Warriors new recruit DeMarcus Cousins.
As a multiple time All Star, Cousins shouldn’t be in this position but due an Achilles injury, he is.
Signing a one year deal worth $5.3 million is essentially a bet from Cousins camp to show he can return to All-Star level for the bumper deal he was destined to have this offseason. While questions regarding his playing ability are out of place, they are quite big regarding his health and any sign of a relapse ticks his stock down.
Isaiah Thomas, Denver Nuggets
Part of the reason Orlando Magic have a dire outlook despite nabbing Mohammed Bamba in the Draft and Jonathan Isaac’s return has to do with team management striking out on a deal for Thomas. Technically, this is Thomas’ second time in a make or break year to land a big contract after getting traded from Boston Celtics to Cleveland Cavaliers ahead of last season.
Bothered by a hip injury and chemistry issues on the Cavs, Thomas got shipped out to Los Angeles Lakers but wasn’t able to show that kind of production worthy of paying Brinks truck money. With few offers coming through, the former Sacramento Kings Guard signed for a one year, $2 million deal with Denver Nuggets. Once his production gets ahead of talented younger teammates Gary Harris, Will Barton and Jamaal Murray and prove his hip is fine, he will be in line for a big deal.
Nerlens Noel, Oklahoma City Thunder
Players on this list never got the chance to sign a four year, $70 million contract but Nerlens Noel did and whiffed on it. Instead, he signed a one qualifying offer from Dallas Mavericks in anticipation of a big year and eventually a big contract. That big contract never came because of a wrist injury and falling out of favour with Coach Rick Carlisle.
Now the 2013 Draft sixth pick is back on another one year prove myself deal with Oklahoma City Thunder for $1.8 million as the main backup for Steven Adams at Center. He has shown flashes of top defensive plays that made him a consensus number one mock draft pick before an ACL tear had him slide into sixth place on the draft. Noel needs a big year to match the over $20 million per year deals draft mates like Adams, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Victor Oladipo have.
Rodney Hood, Cleveland Cavaliers
Hood had very little production and minutes go his way in the past season while he adjusted from Utah Jazz to Cleveland Cavaliers. Trapped behind LeBron James and Jeff Green limited his time on the court affecting his scoring numbers which is Hood’s major selling point. With James and Green gone, Cavaliers showed interest in making Hood part of its future plans by offering a three year deal worth $21 million.
However, Hood rejected it and opted for a one year deal worth $3.4 million deal making him an unrestricted free agent after this season. Should he have a breakout year, a long term deal in the $15 million region is within reach.
By Yaw Adjei-Mintah
@YawMintYM on Twitter