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Winderman: K-State’s Pullen shows how this NBA summer is different

Jul 12, 2011, 3:48 PM EDT

Jacob Pullen AP

Yes, we can gasp all we want about reports that link Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant or Dwyane Wade to European destinations. The NBA rumor cycle, even amid a lockout, must, after all, be fed 24-7-365.

But whether any of that happens certainly will be more of a September or October story, if it is a story at all.

No, what July is about, what it always has been about, lockout or no lockout, are the players who fill out rosters, those at the end of the bench.

And that makes this week’s biggest story this:

Jacob Pullen has signed to play for Series A Pallacanestro Biella of the Italian League, in a city of about 50,000 in the foothills of the Alps.

Granted, Pullen went undrafted in June coming out of Kansas State. But we are talking about Kansas State’s all-time leading scorer, a player with the fourth-highest point total in Big 12 history, someone who helped guide the Wildcats to the NCAA Tournament in three of his four seasons, the final three played in the absence of former running partner Michael Beasley.

The official NBA Draft guide when as far as to note, “Excellent perimeter scorer capable of creating his own shot. Gets to the free-throw line well. Good at running pick-and-rolls. Tough and energetic defender.”

Prior to the draft, Pullen auditioned for the Kings, Nuggets, Suns, Bobcats, Heat, Timberwolves, among other teams. This is not a case of a player deemed unworthy of an NBA tryout.

During a typical offseason, he would have graced the roster of one team during the Orlando Pro Summer League and another during the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas.

Both of those events, of course, were canceled.

Because of that, there was no one there to offer the type of small guarantee that often keeps such a known quantity stateside for training camp, where increased exposure can be gained during the preseason.

It is the type of partial guarantee that John Lucas III received last summer from the Bulls, Marquis Blakely received from the Clippers, Kenny Hasbrouck received from the Heat, Patrick Ewing Jr. received from the Knicks, Tweety Carter received from the Thunder, figures that generally range from $50,000 to $150,000.

The NBA will be just fine without Jacob Pullen.

But just about every year a Jacob Pullen becomes some team’s, well, Gary Neal, someone who makes the most of an opportunity because the opportunity is there in the first place.

Yes, Deron Williams is planning a Turkish retreat, but his NBA future is secure. The Nets know when the lockout is over they will have an All-Star point guard in place.

But when a team is looking for a backup point guard during camp or for an injury replacement at midseason, there might not be as many options in 2011-12, with the Jacob Pullens of the world locking themselves into Euros at a time when the dollars simply aren’t there.

Ira Winderman writes regularly for and covers the Heat and the NBA for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. You can follow him on Twitter at

  1. ac0117 - Jul 12, 2011 at 4:09 PM

    Great college player… went down swinging like a champ in the tourney this year… wish him the best in his future career endeavours and hope he can make it to the NBA someday soon

  2. 00maltliquor - Jul 12, 2011 at 5:18 PM

    I have absolutly no clue how he didn’t get drafted. Hope he molliwops fools overseas and comes back in time to get picked up by some NBA team after the lockout. He desrves to be in the L or at least get a fair shot.

  3. goforthanddie - Jul 12, 2011 at 5:37 PM

    His story is why established NBA players should avoid playing overseas. People like this guy need the opportunity.

  4. billsfanaddict - Jul 13, 2011 at 12:18 AM

    you heard it here bballers: avoid a guaranteed contract that Far exceeds anything you would ever make at a (ha) Job & the virtually guaranteed larger chance at far greater playing time against players who are good enough to make you look real good if you make the most of your opportunity.
    …oh, & all while being coached by a higher quality of developmental type staff than you’ll find at almost any level in america ((its a worldwide fact we have woeful fundemental/developmental coaching)). In a land where your posse/drama/distractions cannot easily follow you and you can start anew… because apparently you just absolutely can not come back and succeed. Making a living out of further developing your skills has thrown your future nba chances in the garbage, smooth move exlax.
    So, uh Yeah, dont go There!

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