Everyone remembers their first Mengke Bateer experience. Mine came in the 2000 Olympics. In a game against the USA in which Yao Ming beasted from three point range (true story), and in which Wang Zhizhi picked up four first half fouls, Mengke came in and hit some mid range jump shots, in that way that he does. It was kind of fun, if ultimately kind of forgettable. Bateer went on to enjoy a few years in the NBA. He started out as a training camp signee of the Denver Nuggets in 2002, yet was waived before the season started. He thus went back to China and averaged 24.3 points and 14.2 rebounds per game for Beijing, before returning to the Nuggets in February 2002 to see out the season with them. Bateer played in 27 games for that God awful Nuggets team and even squeezed out 10 starts, averaging 5.1 points, 3.6 rebounds and 3.5 fouls in 15 minutes per game. You’ll no doubt have noticed that that’s a lot of fouls. That offseason, Bateer – who had been signed through 2003 – was a throw-in by Denver in the trade with Detroit that saw him, Don Reid and a first-round pick swapped for Rodney White. That pick was later traded to Atlanta (who used it on Josh Smith) as the centrepiece of the Rasheed Wallace deal; in a way, therefore, Mengke Bateer was an integral part of building the 2003-04 NBA champion Detroit Pistons. An underrated bad Kiki Vanderweghe trade, that one. (It was perhaps overshadowed by the fact that it came in the same offseason as the drafting of Nikoloz Tskitishvili, a move you may have heard about.) Nevertheless, despite how much Bateer had brought to the franchise, Detroit moved him on without him playing a game for […]
After the completion of the Grizzlies’s second consecutive poor season, Spanish guard Juan Carlos Navarro immediately returned to his native Spain. Immediately. And why wouldn’t he? A free agent this offseason, Navarro has been roundly stiffed by Memphis, who have managed to mismanage his situation rather spectacularly, in the way that only they know how. Let’s recap: 1: Memphis traded a protected first rounder to Washington for the draft rights to Navarro. 2: They then sign Darko Milicic to a big deal, taking up most of their cap space. 3: Then, the Grizzlies completely inexplicably sign Casey Jacobsen and Andre Brown to minimum salary deals before completing negotiations with Navarro, as well as sign Mike Conley to his rookie deal (thus making his cap number 120% of the scale, not the 100% that was billed before he signed.) As a result, they were left with only just above the minimum left from their cap room to give Navarro ($538,050), after he had already sealed his buyout with Barcelona. Navarro, as a result, had to take the only offer that Memphis could give him – one made unnecessarily poor by those inconsequential Jacobsen and Brown signings – and wound up playing for an overall financial loss last season. Memphis then sucked all year, and also traded away Juan’s mate, Pau Gasol. In the end, Navarro left Europe to come to the NBA, where he was treated with less money, less minutes, less acclaim, less wins, and less friends than he had just left his native country for. So no, I shouldn’t imagine that he’s entirely sold on the idea of coming back.