By Nick Gibson of EuroleagueAdventures.com
Kevin Durant doesn’t seem too keen on spending his lockout overseas. Dwight Howard says he has a soft spot for China, but that’s what Dwight Howard does: says things. And though self-proclaimed Europhile Kobe Bryant has entertained overtures from Italian and Turkish squads (Chinese, too), not even the Black Mamba has inked a deal that would keep him busy while the NBA plays its games in conference rooms instead of on basketball courts.
So no, we haven’t seen the exodus of superstars predicted when Deron Williams left New Jersey for the Turkish club, Besiktas, back in early July. (Besiktas, by the way, did not qualify for the Euroleague, the continent’s most prestigious competition.)
Nonetheless, Europe has taken a generous gulp out of the NBA’s talent pool, skipping past the maxed-out megastars and targeting the league’s working class.
Jim Gray didn’t hold our hands through Alonzo Gee’s decision to leave the Cavaliers for Gdynia, Poland. There was no harshly worded letter in Comic Sans, or any other font, attacking his character. The citizens of Cleveland haven’t set the city ablaze with his #33 jersey, and Alonzo hasn’t had to respond in the third person to rationalize his move to Asseco Prokom.
But the Polish champions got themselves a starting small forward.
Likewise, the Pistons without DaJuan Summers will still be the Pistons. And Hornets fans aren’t canceling their season tickets in a fit of rage just because David Andersen fled New Orleans, taking his 2.7 ppg with him.
But Montepaschi Siena just took a Euroleague Final Four team and made it scarier. Winners of five straight Italian championships, these moves might have ensured a sixth.
Andersen is a three-time Euroleague champion (only Sarunas Jaskevicius has more among active players, with four) and Summers fills a void left by Malik Hairston’s defection to Milano. Add EuroBasket hero Bo McCalebb at the point, and you’ve got yourself a contender for a repeat appearance in the Final Four, which will be held in Istanbul in 2012.