Thanks to an injury suffered by Antonio Graves, Turkish side Banvit had been left with a hole in the depth chart at the no. 2 spot plus a free “foreign-born player” spot on the roster – an unfortunate situation for the team, but ultimately a serendipitous chance for Juan Dixon to return to professional basketball in a comeback bid.
Dixon came to European basketball in 2009 after stints with the Washington Wizards, Portland Trail Blazers, Toronto Raptors and Detroit Pistons. Dixon was with Aris for Eurocup play in 2009-10, where he went for a line of 14.3 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.8 assists in 27.1 minutes per game in the European competition; he signed with Unicaja Malaga in January 2010 and was expected to finish out the season with the ACB club.
The former University of Maryland Terp wouldn’t last long with Unicaja, however, as Dixon tested positive for a banned steroid in early February and was thereafter suspended from professional basketball indefinitely.
In June, FIBA officials essentially retroactively set the ban for one year, with February 12, 2011, made the date for Dixon’s eligibility to return to European basketball. Whereas such a ban typically automatically gets the player a two-year suspension, FIBA rules regarding nandrolone, the steroid for which Dixon tested positive, are a bit shaky.
Though Dixon continued training during the one-year suspension and he returned to The Continent once the FIBA ban was lifted with seeming interest from Unicaja beckoning, no contract was signed until recently; Banvit officials announced the deal with Dixon on Thursday and the former Terp is expected to play in today’s game against Eurochallenge side Pinar Karşiyaka.
The injury to Graves could not have come at a worse time, with Banvit holding on to third place somewhat precariously; at 16-3, they currently trail Fenerbahçe Ülker (18-3) and Galatasaray Café Crown (17-4). In 16 games, Graves was good for 6.8 points and 2.2 assists per.
Dixon averaged 14.3 points, 4.3 boards and 2.8 assists in over 27 minutes per game in Eurocup play for Aris in 2009, and contributed 18.75 points per in four ACB appearances with Unicaja before the suspension.