It is every player’s favorite threat — “I can always play in Europe.” Dirk Nowitzki, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, a ton of players have pulled out the Euro card as an option.
It’s not really an option, not like they think.
So warns Nenad Krstic, who spent the last several seasons in the NBA (Thunder and Celtics) but signed with powerhouse CSKA Russia to play for them next season. Krstic spoke with the Boston Herald.
“I don’t think you will see a lot coming here,” Krstic said yesterday from his home in Kraljevo, Serbia. “Europe is not in a great situation financially. There are only four or five teams now that can offer much to NBA players, and those teams right now are almost full.
“That’s a problem for NBA players, I think,” he said. “It was a reason why I had to go right away. I got maybe the best contract in Europe because of that.”
That doesn’t even get into how players who are under an NBA contract need a special waiver from FIBA to play overseas, even during a lockout.
Talk to players that play overseas ad they will tell you that playing for the big names teams you know the names of — CSKA Moscow, Barcelona, Real Madrid — and playing for most teams are different experiences. The farther down the food chain you go, the more you run into teams that struggle with payroll, coaches on massive ego trips (and coaches have more power there) and more. It’s not exactly the NBA on the other side of the pond. And on the top teams, there will be few if any spots left by the time NBA players come knocking.
Just know that while it makes a good threat, it’s not such a practical option.
There were reports 10 days ago that Russian power CSKA Moscow were going after the Celtics Nenad Krstic.
Turns out they were true. And he accepted.
Krstic has agreed to a two-year deal to play in Russia, A. Sherrod Blakely reports at CSN New England, via the Serbian web site novosti.rs.
The Serbian center started last season with the Thunder then was traded to the Celtics as part of the Kendrick Perkins deal. He was set to be a free agent July 1 but the Celtics had expressed interest in bringing him back for next season.
This may be the first case of a defection to Europe because of the pending lockout. Krstic would have been one of the free agents in limbo, waiting for a deal to be worked out before he could sign. And he was given a real second option, one of Europe’s best teams.
Krstic signing in Russia and the retirement of Shaquille O’Neal leaves Boston with just one center on the roster in Jermaine O’Neal. Finding another one will be a high priority for Danny Ainge this offseason.
There’s a lot of talk from NBA players about going to play in Europe if there is an extended lockout, although most of it is fantasy not reality. Do you think a quality European club is going to sign an NBA player for half a season?
But free agents, that may be a different story.
Enter Nenad Krstic, the Serbian center who was likely to draw international interest anyway. He started last season with the Thunder and finished with the Celtics but will be a free agent July 1 when the lockout starts.
And Russian powerhouse CSKA Moscow is interested, according to Serbian website Sportske.net (via ESPN Boston):
CSKA Moscow are reportedly interested in signing Boston Celtics’ Serbian center Nenad Krstic (27 years old, 213 cm). According to Serbian website Sportske.net, the Russian club has offered the player a long-term contract.
The club would not comment on the rumors, which is pretty much the standard policy of teams on both sides of the Atlantic.
For all the talk of a player going to Europe, this one makes some sense. We’ll see how it pans out (nothing can really happen until July 1) but this is one to watch.