Posts Tagged ‘adidas Eurocamp’

adidas Eurocamp: The Wrap-up


TREVISO, Italy – News, notes and observations as the adidas Eurocamp concluded Monday and NBA front offices began to return home for the final push toward the June 27 draft:

  • All indications are that Croation small forward Dario Saric will withdraw from the draft before the June 17 deadline for international players. While his agent, Robert Jablan, told that the decision has been made, some teams are understandably wondering if this is an attempt to secure a promise. After all, Saric previously went from signaling he would stay in Europe to applying for the draft and now has turned around again about five weeks later despite no change in his standing with his stock still somewhere around the teens. One executive said chances are “about 99.9” Saric will jump out of the pool, meaning the NBA is not yet closing the door on 2013. Another said “It sure sounds like it,” when asked whether Saric is staying in Croatia. They’re waiting for 100 percent by June 17.
  • The positive reviews continue for Alex Abrines, who is getting looks for late in the first round without getting much publicity. It didn’t help his North American marking that Abrines was not at Eurocamp because his season in Spain was still in progress. “I don’t like him. I love him,” said one scout who has watched the Spanish shooting guard many times. “His feel for the game is incredible.”
  • Australian shooting guard Dante Exum is draft-eligible for 2014 and would open next season as one of the top prospects, but said “My gut tells me right now I’m going to college,” partly because he is intrigued by the idea of a run with a top U.S. program and partly because that would allow him to avoid the packed Class of ’14 led by Canadian phenom/incoming Kansas freshman Andrew Wiggins. That would position Exum for 2015. The son of Cecil Exum, who won a national championship with North Carolina in 1982, has made one campus visit, to Indiana, and puts the Hoosiers at the top of his working list if he goes the NCAA route for 2014-15. He loves the college feel in Bloomington and the basketball tradition. He is also getting attention from a lot of other elite programs – mentioning Louisville, Kentucky and Michigan – so no decision is imminent.
  • The Bulls’ 2011 investment pick of Nikola Mirotic looks better all the time. Chicago got him at 23 while planning to keep him in overseas to develop, some teams said a year ago he might have cracked the lottery in 2012, and now this from a European scout when asked where Mirotic would go in the 2013 draft: “Lottery, easy. Five-six-seven-eight.” Lottery very easy, in other words. Mirotic, who might be able to play some small forward at 6-10 but is likely destined to an NBA future at power forward, was recently named MVP of the ACB in Spain, the second-best league in the world. Indications are that he will spend one more season there before negotiating with the Bulls.
  • Eurocamp may relocate. The gathering of top prospects and talent evaluators from several leagues around the world will return to the traditional home of the La Ghirada complex in Treviso in 2014, but adidas officials have had initial discussions about moving the event to Paris, Berlin or Munich closer to its global headquarters in Germany, or Spain. The shoe company wants to make a big push on the basketball front in Germany and Russia.
  • The reviews for Giannis Adetokunbo on Sunday night with the Greek national under-20 team in a tournament in nearby Jesolo were a step forward. They weren’t terrible 24 hours earlier – can’t shoot, not strong enough, but a very good feel for the game for an inexperienced player that has mostly faced bad competition. But Adetokunbo was more assertive on offense Sunday and in stretches more looked the part of an NBA first-round pick against an age-group field. He needed to show that.

Timberwolves Expect Adelman To Return


TREVISO, Italy – Every indication points to Rick Adelman returning as coach of the Minnesota Timberwolves, president Flip Saunders said, apparently resolving one of the many prominent issues in front of Saunders early in his tenure as head of basketball operations.

Adelman told in March that he twice contemplated quitting during the season to be with his wife Mary Kay as she suffered a series of seizures — and that he would again consider stepping away in the summer if doctors were unable to determine a cause or successful treatment. While the winningest active coach in the league following the George Karl-Nuggets breakup has not given Minnesota officials a definitive word, Saunders is taking conversations with Adelman as signals that he will return for 2013-14.

“We’ve talked every day, every other day,” Saunders said during a break at the adidas Eurocamp. “He talks about his staff, he talks about players. We were talking the other day about offenses that I ran, offenses that he ran. Talking just the basketball talk. The talks that we’ve had leads me to believe that he’s going to be back.

“My assumption is just like when I coached. No one really asked me if I was coming back or not. You’re under contract. You’re part of expectations…. And if something changes, then we’ll change as it does. That’s part of what the NBA is all about. Adapting to changes. But I believe he’s going to be back. Mary Kay has made some progress, so that’s the positive. I hope he’s back because I know if he’s back that means that she’s making good progress and getting back on good health. That’s what all our hopes are for.”

Meanwhile, Saunders is scouting in preparation of two first-round picks in the June 27 draft, Nos. 9 and 26, looking to add size on the front line and shooting, trying to resolve a glut of point guards, and awaiting decisions on the futures of Nikola Pekovic and Andrei Kirilenko. Pekovic becomes a restricted free agent July 1 – “We plan on signing him,” Saunders said – while Kirilenko has to decide days before that whether to stay in his contract or return to free agency.

“We don’t have a gut feel,” Saunders said of Kirilenko’s plans. “It’s a lot of money, at $10 million, to say you’re going to opt out of it. But anything can happen. You know how that goes.”

Serge Ibaka Now In Tourist Season


TREVISO, Italy – He has mostly spent the offseason as a tourist, spending the majority of the last three weeks in Europe while trying to forget whatever that was that passed for the Thunder in the second round of the playoffs. Serge Ibaka has traveled a lot of roads, just not yet the road back.

Escaping reality? Ibaka has made it a point not even to watch the rest of the postseason on TV.

“It’s too difficult for me,” he said.

One year later, after starting for the Thunder in the Finals against Miami, one Russell Westbrook knee injury later, after the health concern that altered an entire conference, Ibaka was in northern Italy on Sunday for an appearance at the adidas Eurocamp, not playing the Heat in Game 2 in a championship-series rematch. Memphis, not Oklahoma City, went to the next round and San Antonio, not Oklahoma City, won the Western Conference crown, and so Ibaka went away. Left the country, the continent and, in the real trip, left the sport.

“I haven’t really stayed connected with basketball,” he said.

Serge Ibaka

Serge Ibaka of the Oklahoma City Thunder takes a jump shot as he coaches players during adidas EUROCAMP.

Ibaka knows his approach cannot last forever and that he eventually has to return to the reality that, yes, the Thunder, a team that rightly considered itself a serious championship threat, a team that felt the experience of getting to the 2012 Finals had steeled it for a return to June, actually did lose in the second round.

Only now, Ibaka explained during a break in the camp, is he finally ready to get back to basketball.

“It changes the guys a lot because it makes us more hungry,” he said. “Everybody will be spending the summer working to come back strong for next season. It’s something we learn from our mistake and then try to get better. I can give you the example of myself. I can’t wait to get back and start working out. I’m going to be ready to help the team next year to another level.

“We learned. Of course. We learned something.”

Learned something?

“We just learned to be ready to play with any circumstance that can come,” Ibaka said. “We need to be ready. I don’t want to get an excuse about we lost some guys on our team. For next year, I think we’ll be ready. It will be really fun to see us play.”

For real head-spinning, though, all Ibaka had to do was look across the room. Kenneth Faried was also in attendance to speak with players, many of whom are hoping to get picked in the June 27 draft, the same Kenneth Faried who since the regular season ended in Denver with such high hopes for the future lost in the playoffs in the first round, lost general manager Masai Ujiri to the Raptors and then lost coach George Karl.

“I really have no comment for that,” Faried said. “It’s basketball. Stuff happens. It’s a business.”

Asked if he has talked to Karl, a coach he credits for helping in his early NBA development, Faried said, “No, I haven’t talked to anybody. I’m just kind of keeping to myself. I’ll just wait until I get back to Denver to hear everything.” He added he is not concerned about the sudden turnover around the Nuggets.

Adetokunbo Scouting Run An NBA Event

JESOLO, Italy – No mascots, no Red Panda or Quick Change at halftime. No lob dunks, no TV timeouts, no air rifles shooting balled-up T-shirts into the crowd in the upper deck. No crowd in the upper deck.

But what an NBA happening Saturday night.

Greece-Croatia in the opener of a four-team under-20 tournament inside Pala Arrex was not just another age-group matchup in another neutral setting in another sleep gym that couldn’t build excitement if it had a quarry’s worth of equipment. It was Giannis Adetokunbo, international man of mystery, in a real game at the same time the adidas Eurocamp was taking place 30 miles away in Treviso, and that meant it was a league event.

Dozens of executives and scouts broke away from Eurocamp in the early-evening to make Jesolo by the 6:15 p.m tip, putting recognizable faces everywhere among the crowd of approximately 300, in the latest attempt at a decision with the June 27 draft bearing down and Adetokunbo still tracking to the end of the first round.

Is he a worthwhile investment for a team willing and able to be patient with a long learning curve or a one-hit wonder of 2012-13 who has gone from nowhere to the guaranteed money only because he faced very weak competition in a lower-division Greek league?

Saturday offered little in the way of concrete answers. Or as one front-office veteran said when asked afterward what he learned from Greece 62, Croatia 52: “Not much.”

Adetokunbo is smooth and has a good feel for the game for a 19 year old with little, and maybe less than that, experience against elite players. He can handle the ball at 6-foot-8, a particularly intriguing aspect, though nowhere near well enough to seriously be considered a possibility for a matchup nightmare at point guard. He can’t shoot. And he needs to get a lot stronger.

“Three or four years,” one scout said of a realistic timeline for Adetokunbo to make an impact in the NBA. “Maybe five.”

The Croatians were probably a step up from the competition Adetokunbo had faced in Greece, the equivalent of Division II or III in U.S. colleges. He did not, however, overwhelm the opponent in the way a prospect with size, mobility and court sense should torch a junior national team 19 days before the draft. The unknown to at least some of the NBA evaluators, and maybe all, was whether he was unable to assert himself or was simply fulfilling the role handed down by the Greek coach.

To members of personnel departments seeing him for the first time, it was not a great first impression. But there will also be more chances. The age-group tournament continues Sunday evening with Greece against Turkey, as the Europcamp also continues in a dose of convenient timing and location for NBA front offices. Before leaving Jesolo on Saturday, some had already bought game tickets to return.

The Eurocamp itself faced further attrition with the loss of two of the biggest names, with French center Rudy Gobert going from planning to play one of the three days in Treviso to withdrawing all together because of food poisoning and Australian shooting guard Dante Exum skipping at least the opening day to rest a foot injury. Exum instead did light shooting on a side court in the La Ghirada complex.

Neither absence will have a major impact – Gobert, trying to make a push to get into the end of the lottery, was at the Chicago pre-draft combine and has a full schedule of visits to NBA teams leading to June 27, while Exum is not in the draft until 2014 at the earliest and possibly 2015. Additionally, small forward Sergey Karasev, who would have been a candidate to play at Eurocamp, or at least show up for private workouts and interviews with NBA executives, has cancelled all visits, Yahoo! Sports reported. Karasev apparently has a promise from a team, but also gives up the chance to impress someone else enough into pick him higher and make more money.