Las Vegas Rumors
The Korean Basketball League, or K.B.L., essentially relocates to Las Vegas every July when dozens of officials — executives, coaches and scouts from each of the league’s 10 teams — descend en masse for an invitation-only tryout, held this year at the high school, followed by an import draft, which this year was held Tuesday in a grand ballroom at the Palms Casino Resort. “The American players are a lot different from the Korean players,” said S. J. Kimm, the chief operating officer for the Seoul Samsung Thunders. “Their whole style of play is different. We’re trying to supplement what we don’t have.”
They will do this because the 20 jobs that will be filled in the two-round draft are as good as any in international basketball, with $20,000 to $30,000 a month salaries paid regularly in American dollars, tax free. And that is worth watching a wooden box shaped like an octagon spin on a Rolodex stand. The box stopped spinning. A marble dropped out. One of the sober men in the sober suits picked it up and pinched it between his thumb and forefinger. “Blue,” he said. The Seoul Samsung Thunders had won the first pick. “It’s a ridiculous process but this is what they do,” said Rod Benson a 30-year-old forward who played in college at the University of California said as he stood in lobby outside the grand ballroom.
This may be the last year of the KBL tryout and draft. Agents have been telling their clients that next summer the league could go to a free agent system like everyone else. One KBL official said the teams are divided on the idea of the Las Vegas draft. It is a sensitive and controversial topic inside the league. But on Tuesday, the 10 teams each took their two players and they presented each with a jersey and a cap as they exited the signing room. It was an odd image – the league officials in suits and the players in shorts and jerseys. Benson, who wore camouflage short pants and calf-high socks decorated with fish, was ecstatic when he was taken by his beloved former team in the North Dakota of Korea. “I’ve never been nervous for this before but this year I was … a little bit,” he said. “But it actually worked out perfectly because I’m on the best team and we have a shot to go back to the championship.”
Spurs assistant Becky Hammon capped a historic appearance at the Las Vegas Summer League in victorious fashion as the Spurs, fueled by 23 points from game MVP Jonathon Simmons, defeated Phoenix 93-90 in Monday’s title game. “It’s a humbling experience for all of us,” Simmons said after the game on NBA TV. “She did a great job with us. She was solid the whole way. It’s always good to be part of history. This day will go down in the books for years to come. I barely know her and I love her already.”