In wake of the exodus from Olympiacos – we’re talking the incipient departures (of relative likelihood) Linas Kleiza, Josh Childress, and Sofoklis Schortsanitis – the Reds are looking to fill some roster holes with lots of cash still in the Angelopouloses’ pockets able to be paid.
According to Greek media, the names Olympiacos are currently pursuing right now include Team Australia’s David Andersen (who played for the Houston Rockets last season) and Matt Nielsen (Valencia); Omar Cook (Unicaja Malaga); Mirza Teletovic (Caja Laboral Baskonia); and Minnesota Timberwolves Draft Day acquisition Nemanja Bjelica (Red Star Belgrade).
Of the five, Nielsen is reportedly the closest to fruition, as Greece-based website Gazzetta.gr reported that Olympiacos is in fact “close to a deal” which would made the free agent the first transfer to commit to the Reds this offseason. Cook and Teletovic are without strings as well, though Baskonia representatives haven’t said anything about possibly re-upping Teletovic for another season on his extant contract.
It’s impossible as ever to guess what the Timberwolves will do with another European big man, but presumably they’ll let the young man simmer a bit on The Continent to develop skills some. His contract is currently owned by Benetton Basket Treviso, but the Italian side may not have the budget to pay Bjelica.
Most difficult among the five would-be conquests is of course Andersen, who would be entering his second season in a three-year contract with the Houston Rockets in 2010-11. After something of a disappointing season, however, the Rockets may be looking for options for the former All-Euroleaguer; rumor had it that Houston was ready to package the big Aussie up to the Toronto Raptors as part of a sign-and-trade deal for Chris Bosh.
Meanwhile, Childress is getting further impetus to leave Greece behind in his contract option year, as the Washington Wizards, New York Knicks, New Jersey Nets, Los Angeles Clippers, Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers have all reportedly contacted the former Atlanta Hawk to jump the puddle. The Hawks have made a qualifying offer to Childress, allowing them to match any amount ponied up by another NBA team to land Childress if they so choose.