Report: Thanasis Antetokounmpo chooses Knicks D-League team over playing in Europe next season

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The Knicks selected Thanasis Antetokounmpo with the 51st overall pick in June’s NBA draft, but it was unclear whether he would play for the team this season.

It seemed certain that the younger brother of Milwuakee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo would end up in Europe next season, as New York considered him somewhat of a development project, and wouldn’t commit to saving him a spot on the roster.

But a compromise of sorts has apparently been reached, and it’s one that will keep Antetokounmpo stateside next season.

From Shams Charania of RealGM:

After mulling between the NBA Development League and European clubs, New York draft pick Thanasis Antetokounmpo has decided to play next season with the Knicks’ affiliate in Westchester, sources told RealGM.

Antetokounmpo considered several significant contract offers in Europe if he elected to pass on a consecutive season in the D-League, but Knicks management made clear that it hoped Antetokounmpo would remain within the organization in 2014-15.

For now, the Knicks plan for Antetokounmpo to sign directly with Westchester, meaning no training camp deal, sources told RealGM. This allows the Knicks to maintain his rights into the D-League, leaving him off the available market as a free agent should he be released in camp participation.

This is a positive step under Phil Jackson and the new regime in the Knicks front office, as the team has historically ignored long-term development opportunities with draft picks or younger, not-yet-ready players.

Antetokounmpo played in the D-League last season, and averaged 12 points and 4.6 rebounds in 50 appearances.