Where Are They Now, 2009; Part 5
January 5th, 2009

Esteban Batista was recently released by Maccabi Tel-Aviv by mutual consent, after barely playing for their new coach, Pini Gershon. His playing time was so sparse that he wasn’t even travelling with the team towards the end of his stay. Batista quickly became Nenad Krstic’s targeted replacement for Triumph in Russia, but never signed with the team (despite reports that he did) due to his dislike of the cold Russian weather. (Actually.) For Maccabi, Batista averaged 3.6 points and 2.6 rebounds in EuroLeague play.


– Former Grizzly Mike Batiste has fashioned a career as one of the better players in Europe. He is now into his sixth season with Panathinaikos, averaging team highs in points (12.6) and rebounds (4.), while shooting an amazing 74% from the field. Somewhere along the line, Batiste also managed to become a Bulgarian citizen. I have no idea how he did this.


Sixers draft pick Edin Bavcic signed this very week with the Koeln 99ers in Germany, thus halfway to proving that my tenuous no-return-to-the-NBA-from-the-German-league allegation is, once again, ill-founded and stupid. Unfortunately for E-Bav, the other half of that claim – getting to the NBA – is going to be a lot harder to achieve.


Lonny Baxter is out of jail and playing for Panionios in Greece. (Note: if a team name starts with P and has no E’s in it, it’s probably Greek.) He averages team highs in points (13.1) and rebounds (6.7).


Jerome Beasley has played basically everywhere since falling out of the NBA. Since being waived by the Miami Heat in late 2004, Beasley has played in the CBA, Turkey, Spain, Poland, the D-League, Australia, the D-League again, Venezuela, the Dominican Republic, Spain again, and Israel. Now, he finds himself in that most fabled of basketball powerhouses, Holland, where he averages 16.6 points and 8.3 rebounds for the Eiffel Towers Den Bosch. Someone once told me why they were called the Eiffel Towers. All I remember is that it was better not knowing.


Sani Becirovic averages 10.9 points, 3.0 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 3.0 steals for Lottomatica Roma in Italy. However, unless you’re a Denver Nuggets fan, you might be more interested in who his backup is – Brandon Jennings. But I won’t spoil the suspense and tell you how well Jennings is doing – give it six weeks, and this series of posts will have reached the letter J. At that point, we can do the damn thing.


Mirza Begic is a big old Bosnian who went undrafted back in 2007. But that doesn’t mean he’s no good. Playing for Union Olimpija Ljubljana in Slovenia (also a EuroLeague team), Begic has averaged 10.4 points, 6.0 rebounds and 1.6 blocks in EuroLeague play, as well as 9.0 points, 4.5 rebounds and 2.4 blocks in Adriatic League player. What you have there is a 23-year-old late-blooming 7’2 shot-blocker, with some offensive talent, playing well against one of the higher standards of professional basketball around. If this man is not at least on your radar, then your radar’s broke.


Troy Bell is playing in the Italian second division with Vanoli Soresina (which to me sounds both a dermatological problem, and the brand name of the cream to cure it). Playing alongside rather unimpressive competition, Bell averages 19.5 points, 4.1 rebounds and 3.4 steals per game, while shooting 34% from three-point range, which may or may not be evidence of an upward trend with regards to his jump shot. Bell also averages 1.1 assists per game, which is exactly the number that your 6’1 point guard would have. Any less, and he’d just be being greedy.


Jonathan Bender is still retired, and probably always will be. But he’s not inactive – he has a charitable organisation (the Jonathan Bender foundation) and an entrepreneurshippy thing (Jonathan Bender Enterprises, a real estate development and property management company). Both of those organisations are based in New Orleans, helping to restore the city’s infrastructure. Bender also owns an Italian wine company, a record label, an island in the Caribbean, multiple real estate holdings, and is trying to patent a fitness device called “Bender Bands”. (Buy one, just for the name alone.) This comes from a man who was drafted straight out of high school.


Rod Benson went to France, barely played, and has subsequently returned to the D-League with the Dakota Wizards. And now, I will make the joke that I made last week one more time: I guess Nancy had had too much Rod Benson. (You had better give that the laughter that it deserves.)


Travis Best said that it would be his last season. He also said that three seasons ago while leaving the NBA for Europe. He clearly lied, or couldn’t shift the Euro bug, because he’s still playing, now on his fourth European team. For Air Avellino, playing alongside Tamar Slay and Eric Williams (the Wake Forest centre, not the old ex-Celtic forward), Best averages 10.0 points, 3.7 assists and 2.5 steals, useful numbers from an old man.


– Finally, and most importantly, English ledge Andy Betts is alarmingly unsigned. This needs to change, as does my habit of starting every last entry with the word “finally”.

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