Blazers draft pick Koponen is still only 21 years old, but is already playing his second season with Canadian Solar Bologna in Italy’s Serie A (known as La Fortezza Bologna until about two months ago). Last year he was something of a bit-part player in Serie A play, but this year he’s one of their best, ranking second on the team in minutes per game (26.8) and points (11.7). Koponen is shooting 44% from three-point range and is also third on the team in assists with 1.7 apg, a team where the team leader (Andre Collins) has only 2.6 in over 29 minutes per game. Good old Italy.
After two years of not playing in the NBA, Korolev went back to his native Russia, where he spent two years not playing in the Superleague. This year, to mix it up, he decided to get some playing time. Korolev entered the D-League draft pool and was picked with the last selection in the fourth round by the Albuquerque Thunderbirds. He played 20 games for the Thunderbirds and averaged 11.3 points and 5.8 rebounds, but was traded in January to the Reno Bighorns for Marcus Hubbard. And in 23 games for the Bighorns, Korolev’s numbers have declined down to 9.6 points and 4.8 rebounds per game. Better than Danny Granger yet? Not quite.
No matter how much hindsight you give it, the selections of players such as Korolev, Skita and Darko look no less ridiculous. In fact, they’re more ridiculous than ever – athletic young big guys with amazingly little to show on their CV and no defined skillsets picked in the NBA draft lottery, far above multiple established, more talented and simply better players. It was a very strange period for the game, that whole Euro phase, and it’s continually mesmeric quite how much the NBA is a copycat league. If they failed, it’s because they were set up to.
Wisconsin graduate Krabbenhoft went to summer league with the Blazers, and then made his way to the D-League. He was allocated to the Sioux Falls Skyforce, but left the team after only nine games to go and play in Korea for the Seoul Knights, for whom he averaged 11.7 points and 7.2 rebounds on 13% three-point shooting. When the Korean league season ended last month, Krabbenhoft returned to the Skyforce, for whom he has averaged 12.4 points, 6.9 rebounds and 2.1 assists in 27 minutes of 16 games.
As mentioned in this rundown of the Napoli debacle, Kruger found himself some Italian volunteer work this summer. In five games for the team that wasn’t paying him, Kruger averaged 4.2 points and 1.8 assists before jumping ship in November. He later returned to the D-League and the Utah Flash, for whom he has averaged 15.1 points and 4.8 assists per game, shooting 47% from three-point range.
By the way, since that Napoli story was written, they have achieved their best loss of the lot, a narrow 169-29 defeat at the hands of Benetton Treviso. They were outscored by 140, outrebounded by 51, and outstolen by 30. Benetton shot 59-76 from two-point range and 16-36 from three: Napoli shot 7-25 from two and 4-25 from three. Five Benetton players had more than four steals, and even Daniel Hackett had 3, along with 6 assists and 4 rebounds in only 8 minutes. He did not score. Shouldn’t think he needed to.
Kukoc last played in the 2005-06 season. Bizarrely, he’s now contemplating becoming a professional golfist.
John Salley says Coocoach is doing juuuuuuuust fine.
– Rob Kurz
Kurz is in the D-League playing for the Fort Wayne Mad Ants. He is averaging 17.2 points, 10.1 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game, shooting 49% from the field and 43% from three-point range. It was reported that Kurz was going to leave the team back in January and sign with Aris Thessaloniki in Greece, yet the deal did not go through, apparently due to a dispute about the amount of buyout money. So Kurz stayed put.
Aris were knocked out of the EuroCup last night, blown out big style by a dominant Valencia led by Matt Nielsen and Sergei Lishouk. (Victor Claver also had two lovely dunks in that game, including a poster on Andy Betts.) They are also only eighth out of 14 in the Greek league (or 13 since Olympia Larissa were suspended for the rest of the year due to unpaid registration fees), and have nothing really left to play for this year. Yet they continue to crop up in all kinds of transfer rumours, even this late in the season. Just last week they were linked to Vuk Radivojevic (who left Crvena Zvezda due to lack of payment) and Derrick Low (whom Siauliai refused to let leave). Seemingly, David Blatt is trying to build his team for next year already. I can’t say I’m too surprised that he wasn’t overwhelmingly happy with Keydren Clark.
Croatian international guard Davor Kus moved to Benetton Treviso in Italy over the summer. He is averaging 12.5 points and 3.0 assists per game in Serie A play, shooting 52% from three-point range.
In the Benetton win over Napoli mentioned above in Kevin Kruger’s entry, Kus played 17 minutes off the bench and scored 21 points on 7-10 three-pointers. Furthermore, draft prospect Donatas Motiejunas played all 40 minutes and recorded 32 points, 21 rebounds and 6 steals. He outrebounded Napoli on his own.
Former Sonic Kutluay spent last year in the Turkish second division. He blew it up, averaging 26.8 points per game, but the Turkish second division isn’t very good. Kutluay retired at the season’s end, aged 35, and ran for election in the Turkish Basketball Federation elections. I don’t speak enough Turkish to know what happened with that, and nor do I speak enough to understand quite what this means. However, from what I can gather, it appears that he was the victim of an attempted blackmail recently. A more accurate translation would be welcomed.
Laettner sold his share in MLS team D.C. United back in October. His real estate venture, Blue Devil Ventures, was recently sued for defaulting on millions in loans, and the same happened to this other venture of his. It is perhaps fortunate, then, that Michael Heisley did not sell the Grizzlies to him after all.
Here is Christian Laettner still milking it, many years later.
LaFrentz was let go the Blazers this offseason and never signed elsewhere again. He never officially retired, but he never needed to, having spent the last three years unofficially retiring.
Slovenian international guard Lakovic is with Barcelona for his fourth straight season. His numbers are down across the board, but competing against a little-known player called Ricky Rubio for playing time might have something to do with that. Lakovic is averaging 7.0 points and 1.3 assists per game in the EuroLeague, alongside 5.5 points and 1.4 assists per game in the Spanish ACB. Barcelona currently lead the ACB with a 25-2 record, with Real Madrid in second at 22-5; the two are also matched up in the last eight of EuroLeague, where, as of last night, Barcelona have a 2-1 lead in the series. Real Madrid’s complete and total roster turnover is going to take another year before the cement dries.
Lamizana spent the year in China, which means he was covered in the emphatically unpopular 2010 CBA round-up from a couple of weeks ago. If you can’t be bothered to read his entry there, then I implore you to, because it’s more interesting than the above. Of all the people this series covers, none have better stat-lines than Rutgers finest, Herve Lamizana.