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NBA summer leagues end with uncertain futures for several former Terps

There was an 11-day reunion of four former Maryland teammates at the Las Vegas Summer League, as well as a brief one involving two ex-Terps in Orlando. They shared meals, memories and in one case, a little advice.

Jake Layman showed the kind of aggressiveness he was often lacking in College Park as a second-year player for the Portland Trail Blazers.

Diamond Stone, looking trimmer and fitter, seemed more engaged with his new team, the Atlanta Hawks, than he did with in his first season with the Los Angeles Clippers.

Robert Carter Jr., after a season in Italy, got off to a hot start with the Denver Nuggets and though he cooled off, might have put himself in the conversation to get a training camp tryout.

Melo Trimble, after three years of being a star with the Terps, discovered his new reality as an end-of-bench sub with the Philadelphia 76ers.

Rasheed Sulaimon didn’t make it all the way in the shorter Orlando Pro Summer League with the Charlotte Hornets, realizing that his immediate future was in Europe and that he’d better start learning French.

Dez Wells stuck it out to the bitter end with the Detroit Pistons, for the second straight summer not getting much of a chance to show whether he’s an NBA player or not.

Here’s how the former Terps did and where they stand going into next season.

JAKE LAYMAN

Looking much more confident than he did a year ago after being picked No. 47 overall by the Orlando Magic and traded to Portland on draft night, the 6-foot-9 forward started every game in Las Vegas, averaging 28.4 minutes (of the 40 per game played in summer).

Despite some cold shooting to start, including back-to-back games when he went a combined 2-for-22 overall and 0-for-7 on 3-pointers, Layman settled down and never stopped hoisting shots in helping the Trail Blazers win four straight to reach the championship game.

Layman, who scored 21 points and hit five of eight 3-pointers in Monday’s championship game loss to the Los Angeles Lakers, wound up averaging 13.8 points. Though he was either hot or cold with his 3-point shooting, Layman demonstrated a better ability to put the ball on the floor and finish at the rim.

Where he stands: While Layman will still be deep down the bench when training camp starts, he might be ready mentally and physically to make a better push for rotation minutes than he was as a rookie.

MELO TRIMBLE

When Trimble and his agent took an offer to play with the Philadelphia 76ers in summer league, it looked as if the former Maryland point guard would get ample opportunity to prove that he could be an adequate backup to No. 1 overall pick Markelle Fultz.

It appears that other undrafted free agents and their representatives had the same idea. As a result, Philadelphia’s summer league roster seemed overstocked with point guards and Trimble often found himself the odd man out.

So distressed after not appearing in four of the team’s five games, Trimble sought Layman’s counsel to ask if that was how summer league worked. Trimble played well when given the chance toward the end, scoring 13 points in 14 minutes in one game and 16 points in 21 minutes in another.

Where he stands: Trimble showed he could score and his shot seemed more consistent (12-for-21 overall, 5-for-9 on 3-pointers) than it did the past two years at Maryland. But he has to hope that other NBA coaches were watching because there appears to be a logjam of point guards looking to back up Fultz in Philadelphia. A year in the G-League or overseas won’t be the worst thing for him.

DIAMOND STONE

After sitting out the team’s opener in Las Vegas after being traded to Atlanta, Stone had an impressive debut, finishing with 11 points in 15 minutes while grabbing five rebounds (four offensive) and blocking a shot. He scored in double figures in three of his four games played.

Stone’s game was similar to the one he played in his one season at Maryland, better at the offensive end than on defense. Stone is an old-school back-to-the-basket center, something that is becoming a dinosaur in the NBA.

Since he is not a tremendous athlete by NBA terms, Stone will likely have to expand his game to become more of a stretch-5 and shoot outside at times. That’s something he did as one of the best high school players in the country, but has not been asked to do in college or the pros.

Where he stands: As of now, the Hawks have three other centers on the roster, Miles Plumlee, John Collins and Mike Muscala. There was a report last week that Dewayne Dedmon, a 7-footer who spent last season with the San Antonio Spurs, will sign a two-year deal in Atlanta. With the Hawks in a total rebuild after trading Dwight Howard and losing Paul Millsap in free agency, Stone should get a chance.

ROBERT CARTER JR.

It appears that a year playing overseas has helped Carter, who went undrafted after leaving Maryland following his redshirt junior year in 2015-16. Landing with the Nuggets, Carter seemed to understand that scouts are not looking at him as a perimeter scorer.

After a strong opening performance — Carter finished with 17 points in 23 minutes off the bench on 5-for-7 shooting (2-for-2 on 3-pointers) — the 6-9, 230-pound forward became part of Denver’s rotation and even started four of games, including one at center.

Carter finished summer league play averaging 11.3 points and 5.7 rebounds, shooting 49.1 percent (26-for-53) from the field, including 4-for-9 on 3-pointers (though only one of his last six). It was a vast improvement over last summer, when he barely got off the bench for the Golden State Warriors.

Where he stands: While Carter put up decent numbers in Las Vegas, and could earn an invitation to training camp, the fact that he — like Stone — is not a consistent above-the-rim finisher and a less-than-average defender seems to indicate a future in Europe or somewhere else abroad rather than the NBA.

DEZ WELLS

After playing with the Oklahoma Thunder’s D-League affiliate for the past two seasons, Wells accepted an invite from the Pistons. Given that Detroit made former Duke star Luke Kennard their first-round pick, Wells’ opportunity in Orlando was limited.

Wells didn’t get into the team’s opener, then averaged 12.8 minutes in the four games he played. Wells is certainly not the ball-dominant player he was at Maryland and it showed in his lack of production, as he finished with 3.2 points per game on 5-for-13 shooting (2-for-4 on 3-pointers).

Where he stands: Though Wells has worked hard to improve his outside shot, which probably kept him from getting drafted out of Maryland, he still hasn’t received a long look from any NBA teams. After playing most of the past two years in the D-League, it appears that he is headed overseas where, according to his agent, Wells has received a number of good offers.

RASHEED SULAIMON

After playing last season with the D-League affiliate of the Hornets and averaging 13.4 points a game, the former graduate transfer went with their summer league team to Orlando. Sulaimon played in the team’s first two games, averaging 6.0 points in 22.0 minutes.

Sulaimon didn’t play in the next two games and wasn’t on the roster for the last game after it was announced that he had signed a contract to play in France.

Where he stands: Sulaimon will play for JDA Dijon Bourgogne in France’s top league.

don.markus@baltsun.com

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