Has it really been almost two months since the Euroleague Final Four? And when did the seasons in Spain, Greece, Italy and the NBA finish up? Time gets exceedingly relative and outright bendy once offseason transactioneering begins as memories of the previous year are quickly disposed for a look to the next and the money starts flying around.
Last week was a particularly noteworthy, headline-making span, particularly over here in Europe and especially if you’re interested in any player not named Dwight Howard. Here are BallinEurope’s five favorite moves of the previous seven days. (Is it wrong to say BiE already can’t wait for October?)
• Adam Hanga to Laboral Kutxa Baskonia. The career arc of the player destined to become Hungary’s all-time greatest continues: After developing in the Hungarian league followed by two seasons with Manresa of Liga Endesa, Hanga is set to make his Euroleague debut at age 24½ with Baskonia – and seems certain to surprise those not in-the-know with his across-the-board contributions; while Hanga will be having some minor surgery this week, he expects to miss no regular-season games. The four-year contract with Baskonia may yet keep Hanga here in Europe and out of San Antonio for a bit longer, which can be construed as good news (certainly for Continental ball followers) or bad (for the NBA supremacists).
• Bayern Munich signs John Bryant (and re-signs Robin Benzing). As goes Bayern, most recently gifted with a Euroleague “wild card” spot for 2012-13 after getting knocked out in the domestic league semifinals, so goes Germany’s Bundesliga: That’s the brand-building masterplan continuing to roll on in Munich after inking the biggest name up for grabs in that country, namely Ratiopharm Ulm’s defending two-time BBL MVP and 2012-13 All-Eurocup teamer. Coupled with the re-signing of Team Germany stalwart Benzing and Bayern is already looking to be more competitive in its inaugural season than certain long-time German times have in recent seasons…
Now that this one’s official, BiE wonders how long the unofficial process to woo Byrant away from the surprising small-market Ulm with a Bayern-sized contract took and figures probably about, what, 0.68 seconds…?
• Coach Zeljko Obradovic to Fenerbahçe Ülker. Through most of 2012-13, i.e. directly after Fenerbahçe had established itself as a train wreck upon leaving the station, BiE preferred to think of this team as the “Los Angeles Lakers of Euroleague.” The great thing about European basketball? With leagues awash with zillions of short-term and one-year player contracts, a club may formulate a new look, only to blow everything up within 13 months and start afresh; no harm, no foul.
And if that’s the case why not run with a guy, who is, say, “The winningest coach in European basketball history, [having won] eight continental crowns with four teams[,] a two-time Alexander Gomelskiy Coach of the Year winner and in 2008 was named by Euroleague Basketball as one of the 50 Greatest Contributors in competition history.” How about giving the keys to him?
Plus, BiE’s giddy at the possibility of another classic Obradovic post-game rant…
• Kyle Hines to CSKA Moscow. This is exactly what European basketball fans love/hate about CSKA Moscow: The assurance that season after season, they’ll be consistently/annoyingly competitive deep into the Euroleague’s late stages. Such an edge stems from outspending/outspending all but Europe’s biggest clubs, producing compelling off-season signings/disgusting displays of decadent money-throwing.
One such excellent/shameless talent grab was that of Sir Hines, BiE’s choice for Euroleague Final Four MVP and clearly essential to Olympiacos’ back-to-back EL title runs (also inspiring a wave of “thank you” videos in advance of his departure; see below for representative samples). CSKA has favored a rebounding-first/plodding paint-clogging frontcourt in recent years, and Hines should fit in well in this respect but also bring some much-needed energy – and anyone who watched the red “machine” fall apart egregiously against Olympiacos in May knows what BiE means. Teaming this guy with Viktor Khyrapa? That’s almost/totally unfair!
• And for the top transaction of last week, a non-transaction of sorts: Vassilis Spanoulis stays with Olympiacos, eschewing big offers from FC Barcelona and (you guessed it) CSKA. Because when you can re-sign the catalyst for history and suddenly make a Euroleague threepeat a very real possibility, that’s a no-brainer, right? Right.
• Finally, from overseas, BiE enjoyed seeing those indefatigable sources pass on reports of Marco Belinelli to the San Antonio Spurs. It’s not that the hard-luck Italian will see a bit of career resurrection after a year for the Chicago Bulls in which he reached career statistical lows in shooting: Belinelli is certainly starting out behind Manu Ginobili and Danny Green on the depth chart. It’s not even that Marco could produce in the playoffs for the Spurs on another run to the finals — it’s that, wow, how can international hoops lovers not dig on the Spurs’ potential roster the next season or two? They’ve got the Three Musketeers of Tony Parker, Boris Diaw and Nando de Colo, the contract-renewed Tiago Splitter and Manu Ginobili, plus draftees Livio Jean-Charles and Adam Hanga waiting in the wings. The invasion proceeds…