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Saturday, August 2, 2014

Euro Trip

What’s the best course of action for America’s best 18 year old basketball player? The answer depends on what year it is. Decades ago a player probably would have gone to college for 4 years to refine their game, possibly get an education, and prepare themselves for the NBA. Although Moses Malone and Darryl Dawkins skipped college and went straight to the pros in the mid 70s, this wasn’t a common decision. In fact for 20 years no other player took this direct route. Even Shawn Kemp and Lloyd Daniels went to college, although neither played in an NCAA game due to off the court issues.

But as time passed, the options for an 18 year old baller increased. Due to some combination of the NCAA increasing its eligibility standards for incoming athletes, the popularization of high school athletics, the increasing amount of underclassman opting out of college, and rising NBA salaries, many players opted to go straight to the pros. When Kevin Garnett decided in 1995 to forgo college and apply for the NBA draft it was a controversial decision. But over the next few years as Kobe Bryant, Tracy McGrady, and Jermaine O’Neal made the same jump (and with a good degree of success) it became more common for players to skip college.

Consider the options at this time for a high school senior that was likely to be drafted in the first round. They could go to college where competing against Division I players could expose a player’s flaws. Waiting an extra year could result in a deeper draft class, and the player would get drafted later. Or the player could suffer an injury, and they would never get drafted at all. Each of these could cause a player to potentially lose millions of dollars. On the other hand a player’s NCAA play could enhance his draft standing, sending him to the top of the draft. Because most first rounders earn at least $1M a year, the difference between $4M and $1M in terms of life changing opportunities isn’t worth the risk of losing it all. For most athletes, the smart choice meant going to the NBA as soon as possible.

This progression continued for about 10 years until the NBA’s new collective bargaining agreement set the age limit to 19 for a player to join the NBA. Hence players could no longer make the jump directly from high school to the NBA. Basketball pundits thought this move was to force players to go to college, and the term “one and done” (a prospect who went to college for one year only because they weren’t eligible to apply for the NBA draft) gained popularity. However it may not have been NBA Commissioner David Stern’s intention to send prospective employees to college. In fact when asked about the “one and done” phenomenon recently on Pardon the Interruption, Stern remarked something to the effect of “this is not an NBA problem it’s an NCAA problem.”

And indeed it is. Not only have college players shortened their amateur career, but many have skipped it entirely. Take for example the most famous underclass team: Michigan’s Fab Five. The three most talented players (Webber, Howard, and Rose) all left before their senior year. It’s no longer news when a player applies for the draft. These days it’s news when a player stays around for another year (e.g. 2006 Gators). In this last NBA draft, 4 of the top 5 players were underclassmen on Final Four teams. This attrition must hurt the pool of talent available to NCAA schools.

However there may be another option in the future for young basketball players. Earlier this week the New York Times said that top point guard prospect Brandon Jennings was considering playing in Europe, and yesterday ESPN has confirmed that Jennings has made his decision to go overseas. There are three factors which have opened up this possibility for Jennings. The first is the increased NCAA academic standards. (“Jennings has committed to play at Arizona and his adviser, Kelly Williams, has said that he will find out if Jennings qualified on Friday.”) The second is the age limit to the NBA. (“Even if he enrolls at Arizona, Jennings is expected to spend only one year with the Wildcats.”) The third is that the NCAA doesn’t pay its student athletes, while European teams do. According to the New York Times, “[Jennings] would most likely get a minimum of $300,000, including salary and endorsements”. Although Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress says he can’t see a top European club offering Jennings more than $100,000.

Naturally college coaches are against such a move. (“[Memphis Coach John Calipari] cited the language barrier, games against more physically dominant competition, and the cultural adjustment for a teenager.”) But for a single year in Europe, a player could make enough money to pay for four years of college (one year at Rutgers University costs $20,096). Playing against more skilled players would make them more NBA ready. Teenagers frequently compete in European professional leagues. Knicks draft pick Danilo Gallinari was playing in Italian Serie B1 League at the age of 15. Spain’s Ricky Rubio debuted in the Euroleague at 16. And of course living in another country is a great life experience. Consider that college students typically consider studying abroad as an opportunity.

Ultimately the NCAA is largely responsible for creating these conditions. They make billions off of student athletes while paying them relatively next to nothing. For years they’ve been able to exploit athletes whose desire is to play professionally by controlling a monopoly to the doorsteps of the NBA. The relationship between the NCAA & young athletes have been a one sided affair. According to Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban

Every student who goes to school, post high school is given every opportunity and encouraged to maximize their effort and optimize their resources to achieve their goals. Unless of course they happen to attend a school that is a member of the NCAA and their goal is to be a professional athlete.

Jennings could become his generation’s Kevin Garnett and high school players might consider going overseas the better choice to a year of college. Should he return to the NBA, it will become a viable option, especially for those worried about meeting academic standards. What happens next is unclear. It’s highly unlikely that the NCAA makes a major change, since they won’t pay their athletes. One possibility is the emergence of a basketball minor league, but this interview with the former GM of the Utah Flash shows that the NBDL isn’t ready to fill the void.

An example, we had Brandon Wallace on assignment from the Celtics, he was a draft pick and they sent him to us. He was on our roster, he played for us. And in January, late December, the Celtics cut him and we had no rights to him. And that didn’t make any sense to us. We tried to make it work, we talked to his agent, but we just couldn’t get it worked out. And I think that was a source of embarrassment for the league.

With European leagues breaking up the NCAA’s monopoly on young basketball players, don’t expect things to stay the same. Depending on the contract, European teams can receive up to $500,000 from NBA teams for a drafted player. With Jennings opening the door, foreign teams will have incentive to recruit America’s best underage basketball prospects. Eventually some organization is going to want to keep these players from going oversees. The NBA would have a motive since they would be paying an extra half million dollars for some of their draft picks. The NCAA might want to make a change before their basketball empire crumbles. And the NBDL could take advantage of this opportunity to make themselves a proper minor league. One thing is for certain, future 18 year old basketball prodigies will have more than one option to consider.

39 comments on “Euro Trip

  1. Brendan

    First off, thank you for highlighting this issue so well; given that it doesn’t involve current league players, I’m not sure it’s gotten the publicity it deserves as a very important moment for the CBA, the player’s association, the league, and the sport. I’m not entirely sure how to think about it yet, but two things occur to me:

    1. The people commenting on this issue, throughout the whole of the media, will fall into two categories: those who evaluate it, one way or another, as a practical move for Jennings; and those who come to it from a moralistic perspective based on the (possibly feigned) “value of college”.

    2. With the possible exception of the European influence in hockey, this may represent the first time an American-based sport has become globalized- not only in the limited sense of importing non-American talent, but in the sense that some degree of equality and coexistence exists between multiple national leagues. Obviously the NBA and (for example) the Spanish league aren’t capital-E Equal right now, but if Jennings’ move sticks, we may enter a time when a kid from Detroit or LA (or Madrid) with talent can reasonably expect to play in multiple leagues in multiple countries over the course of his career. It’s possible that this just might be a major part of the moment where basketball leapfrogs cricket and draws closer to soccer’s status as a true world sport. Personally, I find that incredibly exciting.

  2. Jose B

    Yes, moves like these, in addition to the strong value of the Euro over the dollar, and the top talent that has emerged from Europe definitely allows for one to dream about the possibility of a “Champions League” for the NBA + Euroleague teams, where the top teams from each country compete for who the best team is around the world. For once, an NBA team may actually earn the title of “World Champion”.

    Not only is Jennings’ move significant, but by the same token you have top players nowadays opting to defer the NBA for a few, if not indefinitely, to stay overseas where they are already enjoying great paydays and a very high level of competition. I hope Jennings is able to establish a positive precedent, where he is able to step onto a top Euro team and have a positive impact as a 18/19 year old, because that will blaze the trail for many more top prospects to follow suit and defer college to play in the much more competitive Euroleague.

  3. Dave

    I’m waiting to see what type of offers come from Europe.

    -Does he get on a Euroleague team (a powerful Euro team)? Or just a normal league?
    -Does he get to start? How many minutes?
    -How large a role?
    -Will coaches there have the patience to teach a HS kid that is leaving in 12 months time?
    -Can a HS kid compete with grown men?
    -What effect will the smaller schedule have on their development? Less experience through games or more practice time and preparation work.
    -How much money does the HS kid get?
    -How comfortable will teams be with a 12 month contract?
    -What will Euro teams offer for extensions if the kid is good to compete with guaranteed first round pick salaries?

    It’s going to be very interesting to see how all this plays out.

    Got to give Jennings a lot of credit too for being the first one to stand up and try it out. Well done.

  4. latke

    Interesting article, detailed, well thought out article. Interesting topic in general. Some thoughts- I think it’s not exactly accurate to compare spending a semester abroad in college to spending a year abroad playing professional basketball. We always talk about how some of the players who don’t go to college have trouble handling the NBA because they are too immature, don’t know how to handle their business. From the bits I hear about Euro League basketball, it is more cutthroat than the NBA. Kids who spend their semester abroad generally spend a semester partying around whatever country they are in. They have immense amounts of free time, their parents’ money, and they have a good time. Pro ball in europe is going to require of this kid a great deal of responsibility. He’s going to play way more games than he did before, and no one’s going to be there to hold his hand like his family and friends did in college, and like to a certain extent, colleges do.

    That being said, I do agree that the NCAA is a scam. I think, while the rout Jennings is taking may not be the route later players take, major prospects are going to find a a way around the CBA so that they get the $s they’re due. I personally think the age limit is another example (along with the dress code and “cleaning up the game” by making calls more strict) of the NBA catering to white corporate types who are afraid of black people. There are no age limits in any of the primarily white leagues (NHL, MLB, PGA, Nascar, MLS). It should just be lifted. Teams and players will choose when the best time for a player to be drafted.

  5. daaarn

    I personally don’t see this becoming a big trend among American players. Who’s to say those players would get enough playing time or competition in just one year to really show what they got. If anything, b/c they’d probably be one-and-done players, I’d think a lot of the top clubs wouldn’t even bother signing them. Granted, I know plenty of teams have drafted some Euros based on very little experience, so who knows?

  6. Alec

    Perhaps this is a moot point, but I think it has some validation: People want to go to college. Its fun. Even Jennings wanted to go to college. Remember, going to Europe was not his first choice.

    I also just read that his game doesnt translate well overseas. He is a shoot first PG. He doesnt have a good jumper.

    I just have a bad feeling about this. Like somehow it could turn into a Maurice Clarrett type of sitution.

    Somewhere Lute Olson is pulling out his hair.

  7. Mike K. (KnickerBlogger) Post author

    Perhaps this is a moot point, but I think it has some validation: People want to go to college. Its fun. Even Jennings wanted to go to college. Remember, going to Europe was not his first choice.

    Technically this isn’t true. The ESPN article said he’s not waiting to see if he qualified academically before making his decision. So it appears that Europe (given the current situation) is his first choice.

    BTW here is something to consider. Players that chose college went one and done because they weren’t getting paid. What’s to say that they would do the same in Europe? If Jennings does make a salary, why wouldn’t he stay around for more than one year if his draft stock wasn’t high enough?

    For instance #23 pick Wilson Chandler made $1M last year, #10 pick Spencer Hawes made $2M, and #5 pick Jeff Green made $3M. For an unpaid collegiate it makes sense to apply for the NBA draft as soon as possible. But for a paid professional, it might be worth it to stay an extra year and move up 5 or 10 spots to gain an extra $1M. It wouldn’t be ludicrous for a player making $100K a year (or more) staying in Europe for 2 or 3 years to truly maximize their draft position.

  8. Thomas B.

    Good point Mike K. If you enter the draft too soon it could cost you alot of money. A player need to find the difference between his continued Euro salary and the estimated salary based on the worst possible draft position. Then do the same based on the best possible draft position. If a second year in Europe means an additional 2 million per year, it seems worth it to stay in Europe an extra year.

  9. joebuttafuco

    Major League Baseball, which has screwed up everything else, has the right program regarding developing young players. Basketball should adopt this, in the meantime Europe may fill the gap.

    Eighteen year-old baseball players have essentially three choices: 1. apply for the draft and if drafted, play lots of minor league baseball, reaching the majors according to their ability. 2. go to a four year college and renounce pro chances for at least three years. 3. go to a juco and go back in the draft at any time.

    Pro basketball needs a real minor league to make this a reality, one that is willing to take kids right out of high school. Perhaps more rounds in the draft too.

  10. Brandon Hoffman

    Mike K,

    I wrote an article for RealGM a few months ago that broke down the success rate of high school players drafted into the NBA.

    Here’s an excerpt:

    From 1975 to 2005, 41 high school players were drafted into the NBA.

    Darryl Dawkins, Bill Willoughby, Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant, Jermaine O’Neal, Taj McDavid, Tracy McGrady, Al Harrington, Rashard Lewis, Korleone Young, Ellis Richardson, Jonathan Bender, Leon Smith, Darius Miles, DeShawn Stevenson, Kwame Brown, Tyson Chandler, Eddy Curry, DeSagana Diop, Ousmane Cisse, Tony Key, Amare Stoudemire, DeAngelo Collins, Lenny Cooke, LeBron James, Travis Outlaw, Ndudi Ebbi, Kendrick Perkins, James Lang, Dwight Howard, Shaun Livingston, Sebastian Telfair, Al Jefferson, Josh Smith, J.R. Smith, Dorell Wright, Andrew Bynum, Gerald Green, C.J. Miles, Monta Ellis, and Amir Johnson.

    Of the 41 players drafted out of high school, only 10 of those failed to make the NBA: Taj McDavid, Korleone Young, Ellis Richardson, Leon Smith, Ousmane Cisse, Tony Key, DeAngelo Collins, Lenny Cooke, Ndudi Ebbi, and James Lang.

    McDavid, Richardson, Key, Collins, and Cooke weren’t drafted. Taj wasn’t even recruited by a Division I school. Young, Cisse, and Lang were second round draft picks. That means only two high school players, Leon Smith and Ndudi Ebbi, failed to make the NBA after being selected in the first round.

    Your blog was very very well written and you captured the issue perfectly with your conclusion. The NBA had better act fast, because the age limit rule could very well backfire on them.

  11. Count Zero

    Great article — great topic.

    I agree with joe buttafuco too (there’s a sentence I never thought I’d write) — MLB gets it right with the minor leagues. I really enjoy taking the kids to a MiLB game — it’s cheap, you get good seats, and your kids have a lot of fun. Sometimes you get to see the development of a future MLB star. Meanwhile, the whole thing serves as a training ground for young players who aren’t anywhere near ready to be in MLB.

    I would happily pay money to go see a minor league basketball team full of players who weren’t quite good enough or yet ready to be in the NBA…especially given what the cost of a decent NBA ticket is. Right now the NCAA is filling that role pretty badly.

  12. GB

    On ESPN radio today they said it’s virtually guaranteed that the next version of the CBA will add a year between graduation and entry to the Association.

    I also think there’s a lot of danger in this for the high schoolers…

  13. Ted Nelson

    Great piece.

    The NBA needs to get its act together and start a minor league. On top of having the NCAA provide the service for free, I would assume the NBA doesn’t want to piss off not only the NCAA but all the television network and other businesses who make billion of $ off NCAA basketball and are also associated with the NBA.

    It’s really sad.

    Mike alluded to this, but I think the NBA will suddenly start to care and establish a minor league if this becomes a trend and every non-top 5 pick ends up in a Tiago Splitter situation where he’s weighing 1-3 million USD vs. 1-5 million € to play half the games a year.

    The salary cap might cause a similar situation for NBA vets, but that’s a little less likely.

    “I also just read that his game doesnt translate well overseas. He is a shoot first PG. He doesnt have a good jumper.”

    It’ll be interesting to see… Europe is the land of equality for undesized SGs: for example, JC Navarro and Louis Bullock are among the best players in Spain. Those two, however, have great outside shots. (If nothing else Jenning’s jumper should develop more in Europe than the NCAA.) Ruben Douglas is one undersized SG who is a “star” in Spain even though he’s a horribly inefficient scorer.

    Europe is also the land where athleticism alone can make you a decent player (the kind of athleticism that makes you an NCAA star, and is noticable in the NBA but isn’t enough to help you stick in the league if you have no game). Former 1st round pick Quincy Lewis isn’t a very good player in Spain, but he stick in the league even though everyone in the stadium knows that he’s going to the basket every single time he touches the ball. Another example is former #10 pick Marcus Haislip who flopped completely in the NBA, but at 6-10 his lightning first step and so-so jumper make him a dangerous scorer in Europe.

    If Jennings comes to Spain (the only national league I know well), he gets to compete against the likes of Ricky Rubio, JCN, Bullock, Shammond Williams, Raul Lopez, Igor Rakocevic, Jaka Lacovic, Pepe Sanchez, Chris Thomas, Aaron Miles, etc. twice a week, giving his the opportunity to turn scouts’ heads and maintain his position as a top 5 pick. However, if he signs with a Euroleague team from Spain he’s going to risk not getting into the rotation. My gut is that he’s better off signing with a Euroleague team from a lesser national league or a solid playoff team from Spain that’s not in the Euroleague. A Russian team will likely offer the most cash, but on top of having to live in Russia CSKA or Dynamo’s rotation’s are as hard to crack as any.

    On the other hand, he’s the best amateur PG prospect in the US… Ricky Rubio is the best PG prospect in Spain and has been playing in the league without a jump shot since 16. An 18/19 year old Jennings should be able to hang in Europe tomorrow if he’s truly worthy of a top 5 pick.

  14. GiantsKnickFan420

    It isnt for every prospect, but i like the idea playing proffesionally overseas. The college setting is very different from the pros even in the big time programs. This kid is going to be paid and he’ll learn early how to manage his life, especially when they arent getting millions off the bat.
    College ball can be tricky with teams stacking up games against weaker smaller schools where as in Europe your competing against men, not walk ons. I think its a better way to learn the fundamentals these prospects lack. In college they get by on being better atheletes.

  15. Matthew

    I’m still wondering if this is going to help Jennings more than hurt him. Of course getting paid is nice, but getting exposure in the NCAA tournament is nice too. I don’t care how sophisticated international scouting becomes, the chances of being drafted high is dramatically higher for “star player from final four team” in comparison to what those guys SHOULD be drafted based on talent/potential. There are several GMs who drastically overvalue players who play on national powers, like Kevin McHale.

    Plus Jennings might get the “possible euro bust” stink on him. I’m thinking that the money he makes in Europe and the hurt on his draft position might cancel each other out financially.

  16. Mulligan

    Jennings might get the “possible euro bust” stink on him, but he’ll also have a year to develop while getting paid without having his flaws nitpicked by the press. He could spend the year on the bench, make 100k for his family and come back for workouts, impress GMs and still be a top 5 pick.
    It’s not ideal, for sure, but it sounds like better compensation for a young man of his talent. I mean, the Knicks just picked a kid roughly the same age as Jennings will be and we don’t know anything about him. And he was the 6th pick! How bad could it be for Jennings who has a high school history to back him up?
    Where it gets dicey is the fact that he could sign a multi-year contract with a buyout clause, which I’m sure will be the maximum 500k for the team that drafts him. That could hurt his prospects. Of course, for a team like the Knicks, a 500k buyout means nothing.. but I wonder if a smaller market team with less deep pockets would take a chance on that with a rookie.

  17. Ray

    I say let the 18 year olds get drafted out of High School but send them straight to the D-League or even better have a high school draft and a better minor league system. Kids drafted go straight to the minors and dont make as much as those who stayed in College. Kids who stay in college longer should get the edge in pay and kids who stayed shorter or didnt go at all make less money for the first 3 years. It would make watching the D-League worth while seeing how the talent would develop there and every major city would have their own minor league team to root for.

  18. GB

    …except you’d have kids come out and declare they’re not playing in the JUCO league…put them on the big league roster or trade them…

  19. jon abbey

    “On ESPN radio today they said it’s virtually guaranteed that the next version of the CBA will add a year between graduation and entry to the Association.”

    a bunch of high school players should get together and challenge this in court, it seems like pretty clear age discrimination to me.

  20. Mike K. (KnickerBlogger) Post author

    “On ESPN radio today they said it’s virtually guaranteed that the next version of the CBA will add a year between graduation and entry to the Association.”

    a bunch of high school players should get together and challenge this in court, it seems like pretty clear age discrimination to me.

    From what I’ve read, Jennings doesn’t have a lot of money, and I would guess the same is true for many student athletes struggling to pass their college admissions. Remember Maurice Clarrett? I imagine it would take someone with a good deal of money to hire a team of lawyers to take on the NBA, so you’re waiting for the next son of an athlete, ala Kobe Bryant or Al Horford.

    But a second generation athlete isn’t likely to be so negatively affected by this decision, because they already have many advantages in life that other prospects don’t. Stephen Curry is staying for another year in college to work on his point guard skills. He doesn’t need to apply early, since a million dollar contract isn’t a life changing event for him.

    I don’t see a poor (or middle class) high school athlete taking on the NBA. Do Bill Gates or Warren Buffet have any relatives in attending the McDonalds All American game?

  21. jon abbey

    “I imagine it would take someone with a good deal of money to hire a team of lawyers to take on the NBA, so you’re waiting for the next son of an athlete, ala Kobe Bryant or Al Horford.”

    or you just need lawyers willing to work on advance money that they’ll get once the kid/s sign his/their first deal.

  22. Mike K. (KnickerBlogger) Post author

    “I imagine it would take someone with a good deal of money to hire a team of lawyers to take on the NBA, so you’re waiting for the next son of an athlete, ala Kobe Bryant or Al Horford.”

    or you just need lawyers willing to work on advance money that they’ll get once the kid/s sign his/their first deal.

    Then it really doesn’t pay to sue then, does it? Most likely the lawsuit would be held up past the draft and you’ll end up being drafted a year later anyway, but now you have to pay off legal fees so someone else could be drafted. So it’s not economically feasible, unless you have extra money to play with. Cash rules everything around me.

  23. jon abbey

    “Then it really doesn’t pay to sue then, does it? Most likely the lawsuit would be held up past the draft and you’ll end up being drafted a year later anyway, but now you have to pay off legal fees so someone else could be drafted.”

    well, if the NCAA changes the rules, then you’re talking about them unfairly keeping kids out for two years, not just one (like now).

    “Cash rules everything around me.”

    dollar, dollar bill y’all.

  24. foliveri

    So the Knicks could have had Davis or Ellis…, according to Newsday and others.
    But they are showing discipline in keeping their eyes on being cap healthy.

    Refreshing…

  25. TDM

    Lute Olson speaks out:

    “”It’s a situation now that if someone’s a ‘one-and-done,’ we’re not going to pursue them anymore, no way,” Olson told the Los Angeles Times on Thursday. Olson said players should be able to declare for the NBA draft immediately after high school or be subject to a two- or three-year commitment to college.”

    http://sports.espn.go.com/ncb/news/story?id=3483221

    Sorry, Lute, but I really don’t think you can just stop pursuing certain players because you suspect that they will go pro after 1 year. That is not going to work. In order to remain competetive, you have to try to recruit the best players. Not to mention, only a select few players can you truly say are ‘one-and-done’s. I understand he wants stability in his program, however, this is not a very realistic solutions.

  26. Z

    That has to be a misprint!

    My heart is having palpitations…

    I’m going into anaphylactic shock…

  27. Mike K. (KnickerBlogger) Post author

    That’s funny. You want to see what will prevent Olsen from doing that? From that same article:

    “Are you crazy?” Boeheim replied when asked by the paper if he would follow Olson’s mantra.
    “We don’t know who’s going to go,” Boeheim said. “You try to get the best 11 players you can. Guys will leave . . . it’s a fact of life . . . But you still have 10 guys. When we recruit, we try to get the best one we can and hope he’s good enough to win you a national championship, like Carmelo Anthony. But you have to be prepared for guys leaving, like Carmelo did.”

    I find the reaction from coaches quite humorous. Calipari using fear (Euro coaches don’t even speak English). Olsen using fear as well (if you’re thinking one and done don’t even think of Arizona). If they had some real power, they wouldn’t be trying to scare young men from doing what’s best for themselves. If Euro coaches not speaking English (another thing to chuckle about – I would guarantee that more European coaches speak a second language than American ones) is a real problem for the development of basketball players then it will reveal itself and players will stop going there.

    But to give idle threats make these coaches seem like snake oil salesmen.

  28. TDM

    The article says it was Zebo in exchange for cap relief, but the Knicks wanted more. It was probably Fugazi and Cat for Zebo. Damn. Do these windows open?

  29. Duff Soviet Union

    Yeah, I’ve got to laugh at college coaches all up in arms about this. Is there a conflict of interest here or something? If people are serious about making it two years, that’s just going to make the Euro exodus much worse. And what’s it going to solve? It just means that OJ Mayo and the rest of the kids are going to be getting paid “illegally” for two years instead of one. Wow.

  30. Matthew

    Mulligan:

    True about Gallinari being drafted high, but he was a very solid player last year. Now even assuming that Jennings is more talented (which I haven’t a clue is true or not), will he even get the chance to make a similar contribution to his team? I’m guessing Gallinari has been around his club for several years, at least playing for junior teams. He developed a relationship with his coaches that stretches beyond 1 season. He knows the system and knows the way the game is played. He’s had opportunities to earn a spot in the rotation. Can Jennings accomplish all this in a single season? While rookies can become big time contributers their first season in the NBA, I’m not sure that’s as likely to happen on European clubs, especially since the coaches know that the player is going to leave after 1 or 2 seasons.

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