John Karalis, RedsArmy.com special to MBR Radio: Twenty four different teams took part in the NBA's Las Vegas Summer League, which just ended this past weekend on the campus of UNLV. But only 23 of them were NBA teams. The 24th was a team of D-League standouts called "the D-League Select" team. This made for a much different squad than any of the other because none of the guys were trying out for their own team. This was a showcase for scouts, general managers and foreign clubs.
Kenny Hayes, who won the D-League's most improved player award as a Red Claw last year, was among the players on the Select team trying to impress someone enough to earn a contract.
"You just want to come out here and just compete," said Hayes. "Show them that you're playing hard and doing what it takes to win and doing what it takes to fit a role for the next level."
That next level could mean a lot of things for players at this level. It could mean going to an NBA team. It could mean finding a nice contract with a European power house. But it could also mean another trip to the D-League with the hope that you'd be at the top of the list when a team needs to dip into the minors for some talent.
"It's so hard because after the year I had this past year it's like, you're so close, and if I make another improvement like that another year, I feel like I can definitely open the eyes of NBA scouts and GM's," said Hayes. "So it's definitely a tough situation but at the same, I play the game for the love, not the money, so there's definitely a chance I'd be back in Maine or back in the D-League."
What makes the decision a little easier, besides knocking on the NBA's doorstep, is the fact that he enjoyed his time in Portland.
"It was definitely a fun experience. Playing against some of the best talent in the world every night, it's definitely a blessing to be part of that."
Hayes had an up and down week in Las Vegas. He hit double digits in scoring twice and score no points in two other games. What Hayes hopes is that he showed enough this summer to enhance his resume as dozens of NBA and foreign pro scouts watched to see what he and others could do. It's possible he'll get an invitation to an NBA training camp between now and September. But if not, or if he doesn't make it through camp, don't be surprised if you see Hayes burying jumpers for the Red Claws once again.