LAS VEGAS — For the sake of argument, let’s say former USC coach Tim Floyd never put himself in position to get in trouble with the NCAA and his former school. Nobody has proven that he gave $1,000 in cash to O.J. Mayo’s handler, but the bottom line is Floyd is no longer in Los Angeles.
Know this: The NCAA, which put the USC football program on probation for two years and reduced its scholarships significantly, took no further action against the school’s basketball team. The Trojans’ basketball program had already banned itself from postseason play last spring and vacated its wins from Mayo’s only season with the Trojans. Floyd, now the UTEP head coach, continues to deny he gave money to anybody.
Let’s say Floyd was genuinely interested in Jim Livengood’s sales pitch on April Fool’s Day 2009 and not just used the impromptu meeting with the former Arizona athletic director as a way to boost his contract status at USC.
Let’s say Floyd accepted the Arizona head coaching job and was wearing a UA polo shirt — not Sean Miller — during all these evaluation tournaments throughout the country this month.
If a coach is to be measured by the amount of NBA talent he produces, Floyd would have been a welcome sight in Tucson (again, only without the baggage). USC, much more of an NFL factory than NBA, is in the same conversation as Kentucky and North Carolina in terms of talent at the NBA Summer League here in Las Vegas.
The list: Mayo with Memphis; Dwight Lewis, Houston; Marcus Johnson, Phoenix; DeMar DeRozan, Toronto; and Davon Jefferson, Miami. Moreover, former USC center Taj Gibson of Chicago was on the NBA’s All-Rookie team.
If Floyd never got himself in trouble, he would have continued to produce NBA talent at a fast rate, similar to his first four years at USC. But Floyd put himself in a position to be judged at USC, fair or not. Arizona followers are grateful he only used the meeting with Livengood last year as a way to sweeten his contract at USC.
Miller does not have a long list of alumni in the NBA, but he does not have baggage, either. Most importantly, he does has Solomon Hill, Lamont “MoMo” Jones and Derrick Williams — all Floyd recruits who fled to Arizona after the fiasco that led to Floyd’s resignation.
Budinger improving. In the Rockets 100-91 loss to Toronto on Tuesday, former UA wing player Chase Budinger finished with 13 points, making only 4 of 13 shots, including 0 for 5 from three-point range. He was scoreless in the first half. DeRozan had 23 points in 20 minutes, many when Budinger was matched against him.
Budinger scored 24 points in an 82-75 victory over Denver. He scored Houston’s first 12 points, including a thunderous dunk following a steal three minutes into the game.Jordan Hill added 14 points and 13 rebounds for the Rockets.
Budinger finished Houston’s five-game schedule in the NBA Summer League averaging 15 points and four rebounds a game. He made 42.2 percent of his field goals and 33.3 percent of his three-pointers, which pales in comparison to his percentages last year (68 from the field and 72.7 percent from beyond the arc). Shooting that well again would be asking too much.
A testament to his turnaround: After head coach Rick Adelman told him to be more aggressive Saturday, Budinger went to the free-throw line often. He was 13-of-17 from the line in the three games after Adelman offered his advice. He was 1-of-2 from the line in the first two games.
Hill’s averages in Houston’s five games: 13.6 points, 7.8 rebounds and 54.5 percent field-goal shooting. He finally had two blocked shots in the last game against Denver on Wednesday after going through the first four games without a block. His foul total in three of the games was equal of more than his rebound total.