In the wake of the “chaos in Bologna” that has seen financial difficulties and league rules sink Fortitudo Bologna into Italy’s LegaDue, at least one player may realize his hoop dreams. Along with the relegation, Fortitudo released all players from their contracts with the team, leaving potential ocean-jumpers like Stefano Mancinelli.
Rumor has it that at least three NBA teams are currently pursuing Mancinelli: the Toronto Raptors, who are seemingly interested in every European player that comes down the pike; the Los Angeles Lakers, especially with Lamar Odom still in free-agency limbo; and perhaps his most likely destination, the Portland Trail Blazers.
Since joining with the Fortitudo Bologna club in year 2000, Mancinelli has written up quite the impressive résumé. Bologna made the Euroleague finals in 2004 and took the Italian first-division title in 2005, the year Mancinelli was named team captain. He was a member of national youth teams in 2000 and 2002 tournaments, going on to compete with Team Italy in Eurocup 2005, Eurocup 2007 and the 2006 FIBA World Championship.
Team USA fans may recall Mancinelli from group play in the 2006 FIBA Worlds as the unstoppable presence that gave the Americans fits while going 6-for-6 from the floor in a hard-fought 94-85 win by the ‘States.
Though Los Angeles would seem to be an excellent fit for Mancinelli with its Euroball-style play and foreigner-rich roster, the Trail Blazers will surely be gunning hardest for the Italian’s services. Mancinelli was with the Blazers’ summer-league team in 2007, Portland will certainly be looking for a versatile forward after getting rebuffed by Hedo Turkoglu earlier this year.