The Philadelphia 76ers won't have the opportunity to defend their 2014 Orlando Pro Summer League title. Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel has reported the Sixers, Boston Celtics and Houston Rockets will no longer compete in the OPSL, while the Magic's summer circuit will add the Los Angeles Clippers and Charlotte Hornets.
Last summer, both the Sixers and the Rockets competed in the OPSL and the NBA's Las Vegas Summer League. Perhaps both organizations valued the Vegas experience — with more teams and thus higher potential to face tough competition — more than the quaint, closed to the public Orlando league.
Both the Orlando and Vegas leagues have their strengths and weaknesses. The stark contrast between the two is of course size. Orlando currently only has 9 teams locked in for this summer, according to Robbins, whereas Vegas included 26 teams a year ago. Some might view Orlando's privacy as beneficial. It's all business inside the Amway Center during those games, as just media, agents and team personnel are allowed in the facility. Some teams certainly find that environment more conducive to focusing on player development.
The Vegas league has grown immensely over the past few years. The Cleveland Cavaliers' matchup with the Milwaukee Bucks last summer, a clash between Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker, had Cox Pavilion literally overflowing with fans. That atmosphere can often bring out the best in players, and perhaps that's something the Sixers were thinking with this move.
Summer League does get grueling though. Playing basketball in tropic climates for about 20-straight days does take a toll on your body. Last summer, the Sixers were essentially on the road for three weeks with very little practice time for players that spent very little time together on the court. If you think this current West Coast swing has been brutal, imagine how exhausted Casper Ware and Jerami Grant were at the conclusion of July.
Hey, at least Philly gets to go out as champions. World f***ing champions.