Posted Jul 11 2012 9:42AM
ORLANDO -- Summer league, full of young legs, fresh faces and futures as far as the eye can see, is usually about beginnings.
For Adam Morrison, it could be the end.
The 6-foot-8 forward is chasing more than loose balls and open jumpers on the practice court inside the Amway Center this week, in front of a throng of NBA coaches and scouts. He's running after one more chance to finally belong in the NBA, gunning for a long-shot spot on the Brooklyn roster.
"I'm here to see if something can happen," Morrison said.
It's been the same pursuit since then-part owner (and now full owner) Michael Jordan made him his first-ever Draft pick for the Charlotte Bobcats (No. 3 overall in 2006, out of Gonzaga).
Here's a brief look at Morrison's path since Draft night. An All-Rookie second team season in 2005-06. A torn ACL in his left knee that cost him the 2007-08 season, then a trade to the Lakers in February, 2009. Two seasons spent sitting on the bench watching his Laker teammates win championships. Signed by the lowly Wizards in September, 2010 and waived by them a month later. And then, finally, last season, playing abroad.
"I like playing the game," he said. "I still have a love for the game. And that's why I'm still coming out here every day doing what I can to give it another shot. I don't want to walk away when I think there might still be a chance."
With a lockout to start last season and no NBA prospects to speak of, Morrison signed with Red Star Belgrade. He played eight games there before moving on to Besiktas in Turkey.
"Overall, it was a great experience," he said. "It was a chance to continue playing professional basketball and also to go to a different part of the world and try to adjust to a different culture.
"You know, living in a different country is probably something that a lot of people dream about at times in their lives and here I got to do that and get paid to play."
New experiences didn't totally quench Morrison's thirst to get back on basketball's biggest stage, though.
"The competition was good. I enjoyed being with my teammates and playing the games. But at the same time it's kind of an eye-opening experience for anybody who has ever played in the NBA.
"Over here, you're talking about the best league in the world and all of the extras that come with it. Over there, it's one pair of sneakers to wear and washing your own uniforms and being responsible for all sorts of other stuff. In a way, it was like being back in college.
"Not that I had taken any of my NBA experience for granted, but playing in Belgrade and in Turkey gave you a different kind of appreciation."
Morrison averaged 15.5 points, 3.1 rebounds and 1.5 assists and was Red Star's leading scorer. Expectations were high when he moved to Turkey, but he wound up leaving the team before the end of the season due to a lack of playing time.
"I don't regret going to either of those places, because they kept me playing, kept my hand in the game," he said.
The former college co-player of the year is direct about his NBA shortcomings, particularly struggling on defense and being able to regularly get off his shot.
"I guess what we're talking about is the athletic ability,'' Morrison said. "I understand the reality of the situation, that in a lot of circles I haven't lived up to the hype. I understand I'm never going to shake being a famous bust or being a failure in some people's eyes.
"Look, I've experienced wins and losses, had a lot of highs and lows over the years playing basketball. I guess some people might call what I've been through in my professional career kind of a hardship. But I can't really say that's the case. I've gotten to play basketball and get paid for it. That's pretty good.''
He moves around the floor well among all of the young prospects in the summer league and can hit the open shot. Yet, at this point, there is nothing particular in Morrison's game that says he's ready to take the step that's been beyond him for the past six years.
"All I can do is show up here every day and try to do what's asked of me by the coaching staff and play the game to the best of my ability and let things happen," he said. "If I play well, maybe I get a chance here or maybe somebody from another NBA team likes me enough to invite me to their camp.
"I don't think I'd go back to Europe. It's a long way and I've got two daughters now. I don't have regrets. I've had plenty of experiences.
"I'm pretty sure that if nothing else happens, then I'll probably go home, finish school (sports management) and get into coaching. There's only so long that you can go after something. Then it's time to move on."
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Aaron Gordon goes baseline for the two-handed slam.
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