Amid a summer fraught with multiple controversies and burgeoning tension, at least Trail Blazers fans have found some solace in watching Damian Lillard represent his country at the Olympics. Lillard's quest for gold with Team USA isn't the only offseason basketball in which Rip City can find fleeting refuge from Portland's organizational crossroads, either.
The Blazers tip off Summer League play on August 8 against the Charlotte Hornets, the beginning of a scheduled five-game slate in Las Vegas. Unlike most teams descending on Sin City, though, Portland won't have a surefire young building block or newly-minted first-round pick on the floor come August.
But joining former No. 2 overall pick Michael Beasley—announced as a member of the team last month, vexingly—with the summer Blazers is a mishmash of incumbents, rookies and veterans that true hoops aficionados are sure to be familiar with regardless.
Beasley and sophomore guard C.J. Elleby, pride of the Pacific Northwest, have long been earmarked for Summer League. Keljin Blevins isn't currently under contract after his two-way deal expired, but it certainly wouldn't be surprising for Lillard's cousin to get some run with Portland in Vegas. T.J. Leaf's two-way contract was up at the end of last season, too, but he could also potentially be back with the Blazers.
High-flying second-round pick Greg Brown will be Portland's biggest attraction, and Chauncey Billups' staff will no doubt spend some extra time working with undrafted two-way rookie Trendon Watford as well.
Beasley isn't the only journeyman former lottery pick getting a shot with the Blazers this summer. Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports reported on Friday that Emmanuel Mudiay, a five-year veteran and the No. 5 overall pick of the 2015 draft, will suit up for Portland after spending 2020-21 out of the league.
Just prior to news of Mudiay's addition, ESPN's Jonathan Givony reported that Baylor forward Mark Vital will also play for the Blazers in Las Vegas.
Vital, a three-time Big XII All-Defense selection with the Bears, started every game during Baylor's run to the NCAA title last season, averaging 5.6 points, 6.7 rebounds, and about one steal and block per game. Not a shooter nor an explosive athlete and lacking positional size at a burly 6-foot-5, Vital has a steep uphill climb to realizing his NBA dreams.
Baylor coach Scott Drew gave Vital's pro prospects a pretty strong endorsement, though.
Erik McCree, a two-way player with the Utah Jazz in 2017-18, is also poised to play for Portland this summer, per Nikola Lupo of Sportando.
A 6-foot-7 wing, McCree played collegiately at Louisiana Tech before going undrafted in 2017. He's spent the last three seasons playing overseas.
The Blazers obviously still have some work to do to fill out their Summer League roster. None of the players who take the floor in Las Vegas—even Brown and Watford—are likely to see anything but garbage minutes for Portland during the regular season.
But basketball is basketball, and Summer League action will at least provide Rip City another distraction from the rampant rumors about Lillard's future.