Lockout drives many NBA players overseas

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Lockout drives many NBA players overseas

By Jessica Camerato
CSNNE.com Follow @JCameratoNBA
BOSTON -- The NBA lockout was still weeks away when Nenad Krstic took next season into his own hands. Rather than wait to see what happened at 12:01am on July 1, Krstic signed a two-year, 9.8 million deal with CSKA Moscow in early June, securing his opportunity to play basketball while the future of the 2011-12 NBA season is in question.

As Krstic told the Boston Herald from his home in Serbia, he is happy with his decision to play overseas. Its not about the money for the former Boston Celtics center he will earn less next season in Russia than he did last season in the NBA. With the lockout underway, Krstic has peace of mind that he has a place to play basketball.

I dont think you will see a lot coming here, Krstic told the Herald. 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. Thats a problem for NBA players, I think. It was a reason why I had to go right away. I got maybe the best contract in Europe because of that.

It is too early to tell how many players will make the same move as Krstic and sign with an international team. Agent Mark Bartelstein told the Washington Post he thinks an athletes decision to play in another country would depend on his individual circumstances.

I think it depends on the player, what his salary range is, Bartelstein told the Post. There certainly will be a lot of players who might be a borderline NBA player that might not wait out the NBA and go to Europe. It depends on the opportunity that happens.

What is certain, though, is more and more rumors and speculation of players going overseas will emerge during the lockout. Here are just a few names being mentioned already:

Former Celtic (Connecticut Sun television analystrecent Comcast SportsNet New England co-host) Brian Scalabrine has been open to the possibility of playing in Europe since before the lockout. Last season he said he would go overseas if he did not get signed by an NBA team for the 2010-11 season. After playing a year with the Chicago Bulls, he is still open to the option. He told the Chicago Tribune, For me personally, if in the next 15 days its still kind of like it is now, Im just going to Europe and play.

On Friday the Los Angeles Times reported on early discussions of Kobe Bryant traveling to China to participate in a basketball tour with other NBA players: There are preliminary talks about a basketball tour to China this summer and perhaps beyond in which the Lakers superstar, who has called China a home away from home and has an enormous following there, would be the headliner with several other NBA stars forming two or three barnstorming teams. Bryant and his agent Rob Pelinka are trying to put together the tour, said Minnesota Timberwolves rookie forward Derrick Williams, who also is represented by Pelinka.

If Bryants teammate, Pau Gasol, were to play overseas, he would prefer to play in
his native Spain, but is also open to other options. According to an AP report: Gasol says if there is a lockout, Spain would be the first choice I wouldn't say only one, but the first on Friday. China, he adds, has great potential as an alternative to Spain.

Vladimir Radmanovic, who has played for five teams in 10 seasons, would consider staying put in Europe, according to the San Francisco Chronicle: He said he'll stay
overseas, if he starts playing in the Basketball League of Serbia. I was never playing for one last (NBA) contract, Radmanovic said. Let them argue. I might be over here, playing basketball.

According to HoopsHype.com, former Celtics second-round draft pick and Lithuania native Darius Songalia is close to an agreement to play for Lietuvos Rytas in his home country.

Jessica Camerato is on Twitter at http:twitter.com!JCameratoNBA

Al Horford recalls offseason flirtation with Rockets

Al Horford recalls offseason flirtation with Rockets

Al Horford was destined to play in tonight’s game between Boston and Houston.
 
But for which team?
 
That was the question the four-time All-Star pondered this summer when he narrowed his list of suitors outside of Atlanta to Boston, Houston and Washington, in that order.
 
“I really considered coming here,” Horford told reporters on Monday. “But them and Boston and Washington. (Houston) and Boston were probably the two teams I was really, really looking at. Just a lot to consider.”

When you look at how seamless Horford has fit in with the Celtics and how well the Rockets (13-7) have played this season, you get the feeling that Horford would have found success individually and for whichever team he chose.
 
“At the end of the day, I just felt I was better off being here in Boston,” Horford said.
 
Rockets All-Star James Harden was among the party Houston sent to try and woo Horford to the Rockets.

“I thought we had a chance,” Harden said. “I thought we had a real good chance, but obviously it didn’t work out. Which is fine.”
 
Indeed, the Rockets have been one of the surprise teams of the NBA this season in large part to Harden moving to the point guard position full-time.
 
Not only is he once again ranked among the NBA’s top scorers at 28.3 points which ranks fourth in the NBA, but he’s also dishing out a league-high 11.8 assists per game.
 
“They made it pretty clear in the offseason that he was going to be the point guard,” Celtics head coach Brad Stevens told reporters. “He’s got the ball all the time. He had the ball a lot before, but certainly now with their spacing and his ability to make the play himself or the right read to the big rolling or to the many good shooters around, it’s a perfect setup for him and his skillset.”
 
The ability to draw defenders and create space for those around him is one of the many reasons why the Rockets felt Horford would have been an ideal fit for their system.
 
But the same argument can be made for the Celtics who unlike the Rockets, at least attempt to play defense at a high level.
 
Boston began the season ranked among the worst defenses in the NBA, but are currently up to 18th with a defensive rating of 105.0. Meanwhile, the Rockets’ defense ranks 27th in the league with a 107.2 defensive rating.