By Chris Sheridan
KAUNAS, Lithuania — Contrary to prior reports, Nenad Krstic does have a buyout clause in his two-year contract with CSKA Moscow, and it’ll cost him $1 million to return to the NBA for the 2012-13 season.
Krstic revealed the buyout terms Friday in an exclusive interview with SheridanHoops.com following Serbia’s 87-77 loss to Greece in a classification game at EuroBasket. The loss cost the Serbs a chance to qualify for the 2012 Olympics at next summer’s pre-Olympic tournament in early July.
“Actually I have a one plus one,” Krstic told SheridanHoops. “So after the first year I can go back to the NBA. It’s my option, the second year. I can stay if I want, or if I have offers from the NBA I can accept them.”
Krstic was one of the first NBA players to sign overseas after last season ended, reaching a two-year deal worth a reported 6 million Euros ($8.2 million) even before NBA owners imposed their lockout following the breakdown in negotiations June 30.
Krstic, along with Jeff Green, had been traded from Oklahoma City to Boston in the controversial deal for Kendrick Perkins and Nate Robinson, and his role declined over the course of the playoffs to the point where he logged only 16 minutes in the Celtics’ Game 5 loss to Miami in the second round that eliminated them from the postseason.
After averaging 10.0 points, 5.4 rebounds and 25.2 minutes in 419 regular-season games with New Jersey, the Thunder and Celtics, Krstic took the Moscow money and ran, setting himself up for at least one season playing under legendary Lithuanian coach Jonas Kaslauskas.
“It’s tough to say now (what will happen in the future), but I can say I am proud to be a member of one of the best teams in Europe with a great history. I always dreamed of playing in the NBA, that was always my goal, and maybe someday I will try to come back,” Krstic said. “I followed the EuroLeague on the Internet and on TV, but I didn’t play there for like 10 years, and it’s one of the things where I don’t know exactly what to expect. The NBA is the best league in the world. I’m going to miss playing with the best players in the world, plus the lifestyle.
But if he so chooses, he can return.
Under the old collective bargaining agreement, NBA teams were forbidden from paying more than $500,000 toward a buyout. It is unclear whether that rule will change when the new labor agreement is completed, but if it stays the same Krstic will have to reach into his own wallet for the remaining half-million it would take to purchase his freedom.