For NBA hopefuls who weren’t lucky enough to hear their names called out on June 26 at the draft, all that’s left is to make and prove themselves on a summer league team. Former Cal men’s basketball point guard Justin Cobbs will have that chance with the Memphis Grizzlies, while former Cal forward Richard Solomon will have that same opportunity for the Houston Rockets in the NBA Orlando Pro Summer League.
Running from July 5 to 11, Cobbs and Solomon will be competing against a pool of nine other teams that includes the Miami Heat, Indiana Pacers and Oklahoma City Thunder. The summer league offers an opportunity for undrafted players to make a team during the regular season. Cobbs’ Grizzlies and Solomon’s Rockets are scheduled to play each other Thursday.
If Cobbs and Solomon were to make an NBA team, they would join Ryan Anderson, Allen Crabbe, Jorge Gutierrez, Jason Kidd and Sean Marks as former Bears in the NBA.
While Kidd and Anderson were selected through the NBA draft as first- and second-round selections, Cobbs and Solomon have to play their way onto an NBA team through the summer league. By the end of the 2014 season, Cobbs was projected as a late-second-round pick if he were to be drafted at all. Although he had an illustrious career at Cal, Cobbs was passed on by most NBA teams due to his lack of athleticism and size. Like Cobbs, Solomon also went undrafted because he was undersized as a power forward and center and also due to his lack of an offensive game to pair with his defense.
Drafted 31st overall by the Portland Trailblazers, Crabbe was the most recent Bear to make his way onto an NBA roster. But as Crabbe signed a guaranteed contract, because he was drafted, Cobbs and Solomon will most likely have a tougher time making their way onto an NBA roster.
Former Cal guard Gutierrez was in a similar situation as Cobbs and Solomon when he went undrafted in the 2012 NBA draft. After this, he joined the Denver Nuggets to play in the summer league. After he was not able to make an NBA roster, he was selected by the Canton Charge in the second round of the NBA Developmental League draft. But he was able to make the New Jersey Nets the second half of the NBA season and recently signed a multiyear deal with them. If Cobbs and Solomon ever do make a team, it will likely mirror Gutierrez’s journey.
Cobbs and Solomon will likely have to follow Gutierrez’s path to make an NBA roster because of their lack of playing time on the Grizzlies and Rockets in the summer league. Stuck in a crowded backcourt behind Jordan Adams, Cobbs has not played through two games. Solomon has similarly not registered a single minute in the Rockets’ one summer league game.
Winston Cho is the sports editor. Contact him at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @winstonscho