The Las Vegas end of 2018’s NBA Summer League kicks off on Friday, July 6. When that gets going, there will be two former Marquette Golden Eagles players in action. Andrew Rowsey will be on the roster for the Toronto Raptors, while Henry Ellenson will be playing for the Detroit Pistons, the same squad that holds his full-time NBA contract.
Rowsey recently capped off the highest scoring season in Marquette history, finishing with 716 points. His two years in Milwaukee turned him into the #39 scorer in program history, as well as landing Rowsey in the top 10 in three pointers made for a career and the single season record for threes made and attempted.
Landing with Toronto is a unique situation for Rowsey. For whatever reason, brand new Raptors head coach Nick Nurse will be serving as the head coach for the Summer League squad, so Rowsey will be getting a chance to shine for a decision maker for the big club. In addition to that, Toronto did not have any draft picks in the recent NBA Draft, so there’s no one on the team that Raptors management is particularly looking to allow to shine. There are 4 guys — OG Anunoby, Alfonzo McKinnie, Malcolm Miller, Malachi Richardson — on the Summer League roster that are also on Toronto’s main roster, so while they will likely carry a notable load of minutes during Summer League, the Raptors already know what they have in those guys and may be looking to use this event as a scouting experience for the rest of the roster.
Ellenson finds himself in an interesting situation with the Pistons. This coming season will be his third in the NBA, and his contract is already guaranteed, as Detroit already picked up the team option last fall. The team also holds an option for his fourth season, which would be the 2019-20 season, but they don’t have to exercise said option until this coming October. Odds are that they will, because any time you can keep a guy’s cost low, it makes sense to do that. However, there are two things in play here. First, the fourth year is technically the final year of Ellenson’s contract, thus sending him to restricted free agency following the 2019-20 season. Second, head coach and president of basketball operations Stan Van Gundy and general manager Jeff Bowers, aka the guys that decided to draft Ellenson, have both been let go by the Pistons. Dwane Casey will be the new head coach when the season starts in the fall, and Ed Stefanski has a three-year contract as “senior advisor,” which technically means he’s the team president and general manager until which point that he installs leadership to run the team instead.
What this means is that it’s up in the air as to how Ellenson’s contract situation gets handled. For example, if Stefanski & Co. decide that they want to move in a different direction, it’s possible that they don’t pick up Ellenson’s fourth year this fall. Ellenson has played in just 57 games in two seasons with Detroit, averaging 3.7 points and 2.1 rebounds in 8.3 minutes played. He did, however, play more minutes in April 2018 than in any other month of his career, averaging 10.0 points and 4.0 rebounds in 19.2 minutes. He also shot 36% from behind the three-point line while attempting more shots than in any other month of his career. If those are indicative of what he could do if given more playing time, then that could affect the decisions of Pistons management. That’s where Summer League comes in. We should get an idea of what the Pistons are thinking about Ellenson based on how his time in Vegas goes. He and Luke Kennard are the two biggest names from the Pistons’ official roster, while 2018 draftees Bruce Brown and Khyri Thomas will also get a decent amount of burn as well.
Every team in Las Vegas is guaranteed five games of action, with three preliminary games already scheduled. The fourth game will be the first round of the tournament that will be set up based on preliminary play, and any future games are decided based on tournament play. Lose in the first round and you get a consolation game and that’s it. Win in the first round, and whether you get more games than the second round comes down to whether or not you keep winning.
Here’s the preliminary round schedules for the Raptors and the Pistons.
All times Central.
Friday, July 6
2:30pm: Toronto vs New Orleans, ESPNU
6pm: Detroit vs Milwaukee, NBA TV
Saturday, July 7
8pm: Detroit vs Memphis, NBA TV
Sunday, July 8
2pm: Toronto vs Minnesota, NBA TV
Monday, July 9
2pm: Detroit vs New Orleans, ESPNU
2:30pm: Toronto vs Oklahoma City, NBA TV