How did the Knicks scoop the Nets on this one? And does Mikhail Prokhorov know about this?
The New York Times, among other sources, reported last night that BC Moscow Khimki region center Timofey Mozgov has signed a three-year, $10 million deal with the New York Knicks.
The move comes as a bit of a surprise, for as the Times notes, “Few were aware that Mozgov would be willing or able to step out of his contract with [BC Khimki Moscow region].” Like Lebron, though, Mozgov may have known all along, stating that his agent had been in discussions with New York management for months beforehand prior to the NBA Draft.
“I really focused on the Knicks,” said Mozgov. “And I did not focus on the Nets because the Nets would take longer to rebuild. I liked Mike D’Antoni’s system better than the Nets’.”
The just-turned 24-year-old logged time with Team Russia’s U20s and University National Team before attracting international attention in the 2009 Eurobasket tournament, where in nine games Mozgov went for 11.0 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks in 23.2 minutes per, including an 18-point game against Croatia:
In his fourth season (and second as a full-timer) with BC Khimki’s top club, Mozgov averaged 6.0 points and just a sliver over 4.0 boards per game.
In an interview given by phone shortly after he signed the contract, Mozgov’s excitement belied a cooler head, should/when it come to Mozgov getting little playing time behind Amare Stoudamire, whom the Russian acknowledged as “a true star.”
Stating that he’s been mighty sleepless lately with the realization of playing NBA ball, Mozgov said that “Any kid who starts playing basketball, dreams about playing in the NBA. I was no exception. I always dreamed about it, secretly hoping that I would be noticed in America. And now it’s happened.”
Mozgov pledged that “I’m going to prove to everyone and especially to myself that I can play at the highest level. … Many players from Europe have negotiated contracts, played one season in the NBA, and then returned home.” (Mozgov goes on to list Juan Carlos Navarro, Arvydas Macijauskas, Vassilis Spanoulis, Mirsad Turkcan, Viktor Khryapa, and Sergei Monya as examples.)
Luckily, Mozgov is realistic about his life and chances: “I know that it will be very difficult – Another country, another language, [another] mentality. But I am patient, and I’ve never been afraid of difficulty. With Khimki, I also sat on the bench and waited in the wings for three years.”
Mozgov went on to note that he’s excited at the prospect of playing with Stoudamire and Team France’s Rony Turiaf, against whom Mozgov played in 2009. As for the 2010 FIBA World Championships, Mozgov explicitly states he wants very much to play for Team Russia in Turkey this summer, but has not yet received approval or disapproval from the Knicks on the issue.