While there may be a dearth of European rookies actually cracking NBA squads in 2009-10, at least the rights to a quartet of promising Continental players have been picked up on draft night.
Despite a recent injury and thus a lack of NBA combine workout, Kevin Seraphin was the first European player selected in 2010, going just outside the lottery range at no. 17 overall by the Chicago Bulls.
At first seeming to be a teamup of Team France players in Chicago – hey, BiE’d like to see the Joakim Noah-Seraphin duo together in the NBA – Seraphin will actually be serving as trade bait.
It seems that after two to three years of waffling on the guy, the Bulls will finally be dealing Kirk Hinrich, along with Seraphin, to the Washington Wizards to clear cap space. Bulls officials reckon that unloading Hinrich’s salary will give them enough financial breathing room to secure two top-level free agents in the 2010 free-for-all market. The trade cannot be officially completed until July 8. Seraphin will probably stick around in Europe to play at least one more season on The Continent regardless.
Bundesliga rookie of the year Tibor Pleiss was drafted an impressive no. 1 in the second round, and his rights were immediately shipped out from Mikhail Prokhorov’s New Jersey Nets to the Atlanta Hawks. Not only was Pleiss well-regarded enough to go at no. 31 overall – thus selected before more hyped fellow centers Dexter Pittmann and Hassan Whiteside – but in effect he was valued a no. 24 pick, as the New Jersey-Atlanta trade will send SF Damion James to Brooklyn New Jersey.
BiE thought Atlanta would get a gold star for a nice first round despite their relatively poor position therein, scoring Pleiss and Jordan Crawford for their single first-round selection. Except that the Hawks then traded Pleiss’ rights to the Oklahoma City Thunder. For cash.
Pleiss has stated definitively that he’ll be staying in Europe for one more season before going to America; geez, how many future stars can OK City round up? How up is this young team’s upside?
Nemanja Bjelica of Serbia also traveled before landing with a second NBA team. Washington traded Bjelica immediately after drafting him at no. 35 overall to the Minnesota Timberwolves who had, well, an interesting Draft Day. To no one’s surprise, GM David Kahn is having loads of fun playing with his approximately 278 picks, manipulating and trading with surely much glee and reckless abandon.
For those keeping score at home, no. 23 (obtained from Philadelphia via Utah) Trevor Booker went to Washington for the rights to Bjelica and no. 30 overall Lazar Heyward. The Wolves also sent no. 16 (obtained from Denver via Charlotte) Luke Babbitt to the Portland Trail Blazers. Once Minnesota fans’ heads stop spinning, perhaps one can explain why the Timberwolves traded so far down for quite possibly slightly worse players at the small positions – is this a financial thing? If so, why?
Finally, the San Antonio Spurs selected at no. 49 overall England’s Ryan Richards, he who so impressed in personal interviews and combine workouts. In response to the Lakers dominant big men and the aging Tim Duncan, the Spurs pick up the Brit here to create the foundation of a future frontcourt featuring Richards and Tiago Splitter.
In BiE’s opinion, Richards to the Spurs is just a terrible, terrible pick. Why? Because i’m not a Spurs fan! Damn if that clever San Antonio front office hasn’t done it again; seems this franchise is going to be around for a long, long time to come…