Immense opportunity awaits Perry Ellis at Las Vegas summer league


Kansas forward Perry Ellis (34) pulls back for a two-handed jam over Kansas State guard Barry Brown (5) during the second half on Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2016 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Perry Ellis (34) pulls back for a two-handed jam over Kansas State guard Barry Brown (5) during the second half on Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2016 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

Four years worth of work with Kansas basketball wasn’t enough to get Perry Ellis drafted into the NBA. Now the 22-year-old forward has a few days in Las Vegas to secure a spot in the league the hard way.

A free agent playing for the Mavericks’ summer league entry beginning Saturday night, Ellis will try to convince the same coaches and executives who passed on him on draft night that he actually belongs on a regular-season roster.

Right now, the people Ellis needs to impress the most are Dallas head coach Rick Carlisle and owner Mark Cuban. The Mavs’ Vegas team will focus on the development of second-year wing Justin Anderson and second-round draft pick A.J. Hammons, a 7-foot center out of Purdue. However, while speaking to media members earlier this week, Cuban made it sound as if the other summertime Mavericks won’t be an afterthought for the organization.

“We’ve got a bunch of roster spots,” Cuban said Wednesday, in a video posted on the Mavs’ website. “We put our money where our mouth is in cap room, so there’s a lot of spots for guys to make, and they know if they do what we expect them to do, probably three guys, maybe four, from this group are gonna make the team.”

Cuban made that statement as Ellis and other Dallas hopefuls worked behind him. It has to be a strange dynamic for all the players except Anderson and Hammons. The rest are not only trying to play well, but also, in a sense, beat out the guys next to them for a coveted roster spot or training camp invite.

So who is Ellis playing with/competing against? Here’s a look at the rest of the Mavericks’ Vegas lineup, excluding the aforementioned Anderson and Hammons:

  • Chane Behanan, 6-6 forward from Louisville

  • Vander Blue, 6-4 guard from Marquette, who has played in 5 NBA games (none since the 2014-15 season)

  • Kyle Collinsworth, 6-6 guard from BYU

  • Dorian Finney-Smith, 6-8 forward from Florida

  • Jonathan Gibson, 6-2 guard from New Mexico

  • Isaiah Miles, 6-7 forward from St. Joseph’s

  • McKenzie Moore, 6-6 guard from UTEP

  • Giovan Oniangue, 6-6 forward from Congo

  • Satnam Singh, 7-2 center from India (Mavs’ Round 2 pick in 2015)

  • Jameel Warney, 6-8 forward from Stony Brook

Dallas hasn’t retained undrafted rookies from its summer teams of late, but if what Cuban said is true, this year could be different.

Ellis, a 6-foot-8 All-American who averaged 17 points and shot 53.2% from the field in his senior season at Kansas, surely understands the scope of what he could do for his professional career in the days ahed.

Kansas forward Perry Ellis (34) works against UCLA forward Tony Parker (23) and UCLA guard Isaac Hamilton during the second half, Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2015 at Lahaina Civic Center in Lahaina, Hawaii.

Kansas forward Perry Ellis (34) works against UCLA forward Tony Parker (23) and UCLA guard Isaac Hamilton during the second half, Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2015 at Lahaina Civic Center in Lahaina, Hawaii. by Nick Krug

“You know, I’m just going to come out here and play hard,” Ellis told the Mavs’ website. “It’s a great opportunity for me. You know, it’s an honor to be here, and I just want to go out here and just play my game and play with a high energy.”

It sounds as if Dallas expects Ellis to fit in nicely with this makeshift unit that spent the past few days practicing together. The Mavericks’ summer league head coach, Jamahl Mosely, hailed the Jayhawk’s college résumé as a strength that should help Ellis and the Vegas version of the Mavs.

“He’s played a great amount of basketball,” Mosley said on the team’s website. “I mean, he played four years in college, and he’s very experienced. He knows how to play the game, so I think that’s going to be a big key for us. He knows how to play, he’s in the right position, and he makes the simple and easy play.”

Regardless of what transpires on the floor in Vegas, the Mavs likely won’t need any of these free agents to play critical roles in their regular-season rotation. But Cuban appears more inclined to give one or more of them a roster spot than he has in the past.

“We want to have a good crew of young guns that we develop,” the Dallas owner said.

If Ellis fits in as seamlessly as Mosley suggested and goes on scoring tears like he did at KU, the Wichita native just might land a spot in the NBA next season after all. And Ellis knows how significant this business trip to Las Vegas will be for his future. His first game is Saturday night against Miami (9 p.m., NBA TV).

In typical Perry Ellis fashion, he said his main focus for his summer league experience will be to play well and play hard.

“We’ll go from there,” he added, “and see what happens.”


Glen Miller 1 year, 10 months ago

Ellis is a basketball player, plain and simple. He may not be as athletic or eye popping, but he has all the tools to make a roster. It is just going to be a matter of if he lands on the right team, in the right situation. Even if his minutes are limited, he is still the type of guy who has a wealth of basketball knowledge he can share with his younger teammates.

Creg Bohrer 1 year, 10 months ago

Good luck Perry, go get that spot in NBA. RCJH!

Brett McCabe 1 year, 10 months ago

Really going to miss watching him this year - such a great player and great person. Go get 'em Perry!

Humpy Helsel 1 year, 10 months ago

When allowed to be, and if in aggression mode, Perry can be a flat out scorer. I think his smarts, his body, and how he knows how to use his body to create space for a shot, are underrated.

Joseph Bullock 1 year, 10 months ago

Perry is more athletic than people give him credit for being. Remember his Junior year, the home game after that West Virginia road game, when he was running the floor, on the right side, and Mason threw the alley oops, that was way too high, and Perry caught it, cocked it back, and threw it down. I was like, did I really just see that? And remember, Perry had the 3rd Highest, Vertical Leap, and the NBA Combine! Perry may not be flashy, but he is definitely Athletic! I also think Dallas may just be the permit fit, for Perry! I originally thought San Antonio, or Utah, but the more I look at Dallas, I think he would fit in very well, there. Nobody thought Dirk was going to be what he turned out to be, and look how his career has gone. I'm not saying Perry is another Dirk, but I sure see a lot of similarities, where people had always said Dirk was not athletic enough, and I think they just might have been wrong about that! Rock Chalk, Ellis Hawk!

Jay Scott 1 year, 10 months ago

Ellis has no shot of sticking in the NBA. He's a match up liability against every Small Forward and Power Forward in the league.

Jonathan Allison 1 year, 10 months ago

I definitely agree that Perry doesn't get enough credit for his athleticism. He has sneaky athletic ability, but he isn't a flashy player. He has enough speed and enough bounce to surprise the keen observer. If given the right opportunity I think that he can hang on the league as a quality reserve and a great locker room guy. However, I think that his most obvious path is to collect paychecks playing overseas for 3 or 4 years and then launch a career in coaching and working with youth.

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