It’s rare for a player selected in the second round of the NBA to have much immediate career affirmation. After all, many second rounders never even make the final cut of an NBA roster, and those that do typically warm the bench and play out unguaranteed contracts as practice filler.
Duke forward Kyle Singler appears to be an unusual exception. Not only does Singler bring the prestige of formerly being a prominent contributor for one of the NCAA’s basketball institutions to the table, but his résumé has been supplemented further with successful stints playing for two European clubs in the past several months. He was so comfortable playing overseas, in fact, that rather than return to the States following the lockout’s conclusion, Singler opted to merely switch teams and remain in Spain.
It’s all worked out pretty well for Singler, who has found a way to continue the showcase of his NBA qualifications despite being drafted into a situation with few chances at playing time. It’s a great break for a young player who easily could’ve been buried on the bench until late in the season, and playing for Spanish powerhouse Real Madrid has been so kind to Singler that he really doesn’t seem to be in all that much of a rush to join the struggling Pistons. From the Associated Press:
With Detroit last in the Eastern Conference’s Central division, Singler is happy to wait until the offseason to make a decision if the Pistons offer him a deal.
“If I do go back, I’m sure it will be Detroit because they are very interested in me,” Singler said. “I’m not saying that I don’t want to go to their team, but if it’s a good situation, I’ll definitely make that choice.”
Not exactly shocking considering that Jonas Jerebko, Tayshaun Prince, Austin Daye, and — somewhat inexplicably — Damien Wilkins all eat up minutes at Singler’s primary position. But that kind of patience from a player without a concrete NBA deal? That casual shrug as Singler willingly waits on his NBA dreams? It’s unusual to say the least, and speaks to Singler’s strangely high value despite being drafted in the second round.
The NBA is currently in the process of moving the lockout into its rearview mirror, but even that development can’t bring home all of the league’s wayward sons. There are plenty of players who signed contracts overseas without an NBA out, and beyond that, apparently, a contingent that’s able to find better contract conditions overseas than they would in the states. Among them is Kyle Singler, who according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports, is close to signing a deal with Real Madrid for the remainder of the season:
After an outstanding showing with Alicante in the [Spanish ACB] league – where he averaged a team-leading 15 points on 47 percent shooting – Singler decided to take the Real Madrid offer on Tuesday. A combination of his comfort level in Spain and a salary higher than that of most second-round draft picks convinced him to finish the season there, sources said.
The financial motivations make a lot of sense; second round picks make very little money in NBA terms, and if Singler is able to score a better contract overseas, power to him. But as Wojnarowski notes in his report, Singler had a real chance at playing time this season with the Detroit Pistons. He’s hardly a surefire pro-level talent, but the Pistons are a young, rebuilding team looking to appraise the pieces on their current roster. It’s likely that Singler would have been given a decent shot to perform, and whether that opportunity will still be there upon his eventual return to the NBA remains to be seen.
Regardless, this isn’t a particularly heavy decision. Singler has opted to play in one place over another, and while it would have been interesting to see the Duke product in an NBA setting, he’ll earn a bit more money while playing a comfortable role for one of the best non-NBA teams out there. Basketball life goes on.
From CSNChicago.com’s Aggrey Sam:
Born in South Sudan and growing up in London, Luol Deng exploring the option of playing abroad during the ongoing NBA lockout doesn’t come as a surprise. A posting on the website of his agency, Interperformances, Tuesday, stated the Bulls small forward was “considering to play overseas.”
Deng reportedly told British-based website mvp247.com, “I always wanted to play in Europe.
“I always wanted to see what my game would be like. There’s a part of me, because of growing up in England, I’d like to be close to there.”
If Deng, who played for Great Britan’s team during this summer’s FIBA EuroBasket Tournament, were to go overseas, it would be a fairly big deal. Deng isn’t on Deron Williams’ level as an individual player, but he’s a key piece of the team that finished with the NBA’s best regular-season record last season — if Deng’s contract with a team in Europe makes it difficult in any way for him to return to the Bulls immediately after the lockout is resolved, Deng’s overseas sojurn could actually change the landscape of the Eastern Conference until he gets back with the team and re-acclimated to his teammates.
It’s just not Ron Artest’s week.
First, he was linked to Dancing With the Stars — a pretty insidious affiliation, if you ask me. Then, his admirable gesture of changing his name to Metta World Peace was temporarily denied on the basis of outstanding traffic violations. A bummer, but one that will hopefully be resolved post-haste.
And on the professional front, Artest’s arrangement with the Cheshire Jets of the British Basketball League has hit a rather substantial snag. Mark Medina of the L.A. Times explains (via Yahoo’s Scoop du Jour):
Though Artest declared his intention to The Times two weeks ago that he’s “definitely going to play” for the British Basketball League’s Cheshire Jets, his agent, David Bauman, said the team hasn’t offered Artest insurance. That issue, Bauman said, poses a “major problem” and would prevent the Lakers forward from joining the team. “It’s still on the table,” Bauman said Tuesday in a phone interview. “But again, this insurance thing is a significant and a serious obstacle for any of the NBA players.”
Artest has a three-year, $21.8 million deal remaining with the Lakers. Without insurance, Artest could risk his contract becoming void should he suffer an injury with another team during the NBA lockout. That issue, said Bauman, also partly explains why Artest postponed his trip to the U.K. to speak with Jets officials, hold a news conference, mingle with fans and, in his words, “make sure it’s a good fit.”…Meanwhile, Jets director Pete Hawkins told the Cheshire Chronicle last week that the deal isn’t dead, saying: “The next few days we need to work really hard. Insurance was always an issue from the outset,but we are still trying hard to ensure Ron has the protection he needs to play.”
So rest easy, Artest diehards across the pond: there may be a positive resolution to this insurance issue yet. For now, though, Ron Artest is still Ron Artest, he’s got some tickets to pay, a rumor to quell, and a substantial setback that could keep him from playing pro ball in the U.K. Here’s to better weeks, Ron.
The possibility of Deron Williams and the league’s top tier crossing the Atlantic to play their professional ball has all but consumed the day-to-day NBA chatter, but even the most solid bits of news on the subject come with a lack of permanence. Williams isn’t going to play in Turkey for the rest of his career; he’s playing ball, making some money, and applying pressure on the NBA’s owners, but his aspirations are to come back to the good ol’ US of A and pick up where he left off as soon as the lockout is resolved. There’s no real threat to the NBA product we’ve come to know and love because the domestic and foreign basketball products are functionally non-competitive.
However, a select group of NBAers, most of which are European or at the very least have experience playing professionally overseas, may potentially play the lockout waiting game by different rules. Such is the case with Milwaukee’s Ersan Ilyasova, who reportedly has agreed to a three-year deal with Fenerbahce Ulker that could keep him in his native Turkey without a contractual out to return to the NBA anytime soon (link via BrewHoop).
The reports detailing Ilyasova’s deal are still a bit shaky at this point, and as they’re confirmed and clarified we should have a better idea of his long-term intentions. His potential departure wouldn’t leave the Bucks in a particularly bad spot from a positional standpoint (Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, Drew Gooden, Jon Brockman, and Larry Sanders are all capable of filling minutes at power forward), but Ilyasova is nonetheless a young, solid rotation player. It does the Bucks no good to lose him outright, and though his production can largely be replaced, this would still be an unfortunate development for a franchise that can’t afford all that many bad breaks.
The Bucks aren’t a team with a ton of luxuries; they’re coming off of a terribly disappointing season, and though a healthy Andrew Bogut would do Milwaukee a lot of good, the team is still in a bit of a tough spot. Their pre-draft trade for Stephen Jackson, Beno Udrih, and Shaun Livingston helped to brighten the Bucks’ financial outlook, but they’re still a team without many clear avenues for immediate improvement or spare assets. They don’t need Ilyasova per se, but it sure couldn’t hurt to have him around, either as a player or a trade chip.