First, BallinEurope would like to a couple more American players to The Continent, as Milwaukee Bucks second-round draft pick Jon Leuer has signed with the Bundesliga’s Frankfurt Skyliners to play during the NBA lockout and undrafted Colorado State University forward Andy Ogide has joined the ranks of LEB club Breogán.
But as the BiE schadenfreudometer works overtime, the Euroleague Transfers Table loads up with NBA names (Hello, Mr. Farmar and bienvenue to you, Monsieur Batum!), and the working assumption currently figuring the big league to be playing an abbreviated schedule in 2011-12 at best, BallinEurope admits that he’s becoming spoiled about new news on NBA players jumping the Atlantic to play ball here.
And so, without too much hard fact recently on NBAers, marquee or otherwise, making said leap, BiE today presents odds on some players rumored to be plying their wares in Europe soon. Readers should note that these odds are offered at no bookmaker service and are completely arbitrary (which is to say mostly made up).
Dirk Nowitzki: 3/5. The incredible story of the Bayern München basketball club’s resurrection to primacy would be made complete by signing Dastardly Dirk, hero of the 2011 NBA Finals.
Last season, national team coach Dirk Bauermann took up the reins of the second-division club and promptly won that league going away. In an explicitly marketable move, FIBA then made the unprecedented decision to award the just-promoted team a spot in the 2011-12 Eurocup. With the underlying and legitimate premise that what’s good for Bayern München, perhaps the country’s most internationally recognized sports organization, is good for Bundesliga basketball, this club is certainly wooing agents and rubbing magic talismans in hopes of getting Nowitzki to come home to Germany.
Nowitzki is still playing coy with his decision (or maybe that should be “Decision,” with Dirk launching the Bizarro version of the Lebron James brouhaha on German TV) at present, recently stating that he’d delay any such announcement until after Eurobasket 2011. Here, however, we’re still taking to heart his much-run quote: “I’ve always said I’m too old to sit around for a whole year. I still can’t see this being a long lockout, but if it is, I’m going to find somewhere to play.”
Tony Parker: 1/1. Let’s see … Parker owns a share of Asvel Villeurbanne and could thus be writing his own (preferably dirt cheap) paycheck while virtually assuring sellouts for every game, taking an LNB title and applying a little NBA-learned marketing strategy to make his Asvel jersey *the* hot worldwide seller for, let’s say, a percentage? These odds are way too high.
Mehmet Okur: 3/2. BiE’s going out on a bit of a limb with this one, as this line is solely based on reportage that Fenerbahçe Ülker was in negotiations with the Utah Jazz big man followed by a big cone of silence since. The move does seem somewhat natural for Okur with Fenerbahçe a potential Euroleague Final Four team, though of note is the fact that Okur started his professional career with three other Turkish clubs, including Efes Istanbul.
Patrick Mills: 2/1. Speaking of Turkish basketball … not only could Mills use a spell in Europe to enhance his skills after playing just 12.2 minutes per game with the Portland Trail Blazers in his first full season, he was also the target of gossip having him already signed with Anadolu Efes for one season. While this rumor was debunked, Mills’ agent stated that his client had received offers from “many” clubs and the player himself stated that “My intention during this lockout is to look at offers from Europe and Australia.”
Pau Gasol: 8/1. While Gasol has made clear his intentions to consider playing with FC Barcelona or some other ACB team, this Los Angeles Laker has also eschewed extra play in recent years, citing grueling schedules and wear on the body. With brother Marc reportedly *not* going to play in Europe this season (see below) and Team Spain looking at the possibility of a run deep into Eurobasket 2011, won’t Pau be seriously considering a vacation? BiE would be surprised to see Gasol suiting up for any European club on opening day.
Kobe Bryant: 10/1. The main barriers to the NBA’s fiercest competitor playing in Europe? Money and China. (And thus does Bryant become a metaphor for the American economy.) Despite an incoming rule barring opt-out contract clauses, Chinese clubs are reportedly aggressively pursuing Kobe; on the other hand, even beyond the protectionist new bylaw, most recent stories say the price tag is around $1 million per month and Bryant’s most recent demand to Besiktas Cola Turka had him asking for $1.5 mil per.
Amare Stoudamire: 12/1. What happened to all this talk, anyway? After playing the will-he-won’t-he game for a week or two, Stoudamire has recently become relatively quiet on the issue of playing ball in a foreign country – at last count, Spain, Turkey, Israel and China. This New York Knick might not want to wait too long or he just might find European basketball budgets gone dry before he takes something; Stoudamire made just under $16.5 million last season and if the Nowitzki-Bryant ceiling is set at $1 million per month, Stoudamire’s personal budget will certainly be taking a hit anyway.
Linas Kleiza: 20/1. This one goes out to all BiE’s Lietuvos Rytas-loving readers, specifically Kevin. This rumor was destined to be (created) started by a Lithuanian and so props for the foresight, Kevin! But would you care to place a wager…?
Marc Gasol: 25/1. In probably the most shocking news vis-à-vis logical European news, Marc Gasol told CBS Sports emphatically that having a stint with FC Barcelona only to opt out would be “selfish.” But still, after his breakout season and playoff performance, does Gasol The Younger really want to sit around while Pau plays?
Ricky Rubio: 25/1. Now that FC Barcelona seems close to signing Marcelinho Huertas to fill up the guard roster spots, the whispering about Rubio’s return has been muffled. And since his probable second choice and former team DKV Joventut presumably does not have the budget for a player of Rubio’s cachet, the Spanish wunderkind could end up one of the biggest losers of the 2011 NBA lockout fiasco after an off-season in which he declined in nearly every statistical category.
Carmelo Anthony: 28/1. Seemingly certain to be a Europe-jumping superstar, this line has increased as of late, with Anthony speaking more frequently of destinations like China and … Puerto Rico? Yes. Sayeth Carmelo (as translated by SB Nation): “…with the lockout, and if things continue, I would not rule out playing in Puerto Rico. I’m keeping that option open and we’ll see what deals there are.”
Such a declaration raises an interesting possibility for NBA players, as teams would only begin to require their services for February training and a March tipoff; by then, all will certainly know whether the entire 2011-12 season is off and can still get a few months’ playing time to sharpen up for the presumed 2012-13 campaign.
Allen Iverson: 40/1 to sign a contract, 80/1 to come close to fulfilling it. Last we heard from Mr. Answer on his prospects for playing in Europe (or anywhere) came in this interview with Slam Online – you’ll definitely want to click to see A.I.’s outrageous headwear.
Said Iverson in the piece when asked about his playing prospects: “Obviously for me, I want to be in the NBA. Obviously, I want to be closer to my family, but my whole thing is to go somewhere where people want me, somewhere where I will truly be accepted. I just want to be wanted. That’s my whole thing. I want to go somewhere where they want me to help their team win.” But gee, weren’t Besiktas Cola Turka fans, like, 1000% behind their new guy before his strange disappearing act after 10 games?
Enes Kanter: OFF. If Ricky Rubio is looking like an early loser due to the lockout, Enes Kanter may well be the poster boy for this snafu. You know, if they made posters of guys whose chances at a viable NBA career were undermined even before they began.
Kanter of course missed the entire 2010-11 NCAA season due to the sudden scruples exhibited by Fenerbahce officials which surely had nothing to do with a potential hefty transfer fee due the club or even Kanter’s father’s assertion that the team was “trying to set an example with my son to coming generations in Turkey, so they can control and use the talent and youth any way they like.”
Still, there’s no hiding talent, even in the University of Kentucky stands: Despite playing in zero games on the season, Kanter went no. 3 overall in the 2011 NBA Draft and got Utah fans jazzed at the prospect of this multi-talented youth playing strong in the paint.
But after a cancelled NBA season and two years of sitting on the shelf, how good will Kanter look in 2012-13? BiE implores: Come back to Europe, Enes, before the rust collects!