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

Halftime stars, studs and duds: Celtics surge at end of second quarter

Halftime stars, studs and duds: Celtics surge at end of second quarter

BOSTON –  For the second time in as many games, the Boston Celtics were hosting a team eager to get off a losing skid.

But a strong surge near the end of the second quarter gave the Celtics a 65-56 halftime lead over Portland which came into the night having lost four straight.

Boston opened with a 12-4 run capped off by a 3-pointer by Jae Crowder – his second within the game’s first couple minutes.

But the Blazers were being carried by C.J. McCollum, half of the most explosive backcourt in the NBA. His 12 first-quarter points were crucial to keeping the Blazers within 28-26 at the end of the quarter.

McCollum continued to out-perform everyone else on the floor, even Isaiah Thomas who had a quieter than usual first half.

But the 5-foot-9 Thomas continued to make all the plays needed to put the Celtics back on top courtesy of a 12-3 run that put them ahead 57-49 with 1:55 to play in the half.

From there, Boston was able to maintain control of the game.

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from the first half of Saturday’s game.

 

STARS

C.J. McCollum

While there’s still talk about whether Damian Lillard will be an All-Star this year, McCollum has played well enough to where he’s at least worthy of a mention in the All-Star conversation. He certainly carried Portland in the first half with 26 points on 8-for-12 shooting.

Isaiah Thomas

As usual, Thomas drew a considerable amount of attention from the opposing defense. And slowly but surely, he found cracks that he could exploit. At the half, he had 17 points, four assists and three rebounds, one of which was an offensive board that he put-back in for a lay-up.

 

STUDS

Jae Crowder

He put the Celtics on a good path from the outset, knocking down a couple 3’s in the first couple of minutes. He finished the half with 13 points on 5-for-7 shooting which included a trio of 3-pointers.

Meyers Leonard

He was 3-for-4 in the first half which included a pair of powerful dunks over Boston’s Jordan Mickey. At the half he had eight points and two rebounds.

 

DUDS

Damian Lillard

It was a rough half for the two-time All-Star, tallying just three points on 1-for-5 shooting. A big part of his problem? Foul trouble. He played just 10 minutes in the first half due in large part to having three personal fouls.