With Alessandro Gentile and Olimpia Milano parting ways, Emmet Ryan looks at what the departure means and where Gentile will end up next
This divorce was coming for a while. A couple of years ago Alessandro Gentile committed to Olimpia Milano out of loyalty to the club but that bond was only going to bring them so far. He’s a house of fire of a player, bustling for the ball, always looking for his shot, and playing with a high motor. Off the court however the relations with the club clearly weren’t ideal and a move looked on in the summer even though there didn’t seem a logical fit out there.
The move is almost certainly best for both parties. Veteran Irish-American Mike Hall*, who has knows more about the off court side of the game in Europe than near any player, explained it best on Twitter. Milano remain kings of Serie A, are still fringe contenders for a playoff spot in Euroleague (no worse than they were before), and Gentile gets to play somewhere away from the noise. No doubt, much of it was his own creation, but a fresh start can work wonders for a player particularly in a short-term fit.
*On a serious note for agents of young US players who read this site. When Mike Hall eventually retires, you should all club together to pay him to get your youngsters ready for Europe. His knowledge, experience, and relatability, is worth my weight in gold.
Gentile is not going anywhere in Serie A, that’s been made clear by Milano, so the question lies in his possible destinations. A move to the Houston Rockets, who hold his NBA rights, isn’t going to happen before the summer barring some shocking development. That means he is realistically staying in Europe and that brings up need and fit as key points.
Potential sub-Euroleague level names have come up and a Eurocup grade club might be where he is best suited but, for now, we’re going to focus solely on where he might land if he stays at Euroleague level. After all, for a competitor like Gentile, the chance to take on a club that forced him out is a natural lure.
Rob Scott made a good call on the Euroleague Adventures podcast in saying Bamberg makes the most sense as a fit. The club has nothing to lose by bringing in Gentile as it is currently in last place of Euroleague in need of a big gamble while it is so far ahead of the competition in Germany’s Bundesliga that the worst sides of Gentile couldn’t seriously hamper them on that front. The issue, and it’s one that will come up for a few sides, is that they wouldn’t be able to field Gentile until Round 16 of Euroleague as he has already logged minutes in the competition this season. That’s five more games for the German champions and they may be in a position by then where a gamble doesn’t really aid them.
Fenerbahce is the contender with the most obvious back court need. The club is, by contender standards, a touch shallow and has a coach who can command the respect of a player like Gentile. The issue there however lies once more in the availability. When Gentile would be eligible to play ties in roughly with the expected return of Bogdan Bogdanovic. The Italian would immediately be relegated to a secondary role and that’s not necessarily something he would be happy with.
The wildcard in this situation is Galatasaray. The club is more than happy to take risks and cut players when they aren’t happy so bringing in a fiery presence like Gentile wouldn’t be out of character. The fit here, as it is with any club, is a question but it’s a gamble worth taking if Ergin Ataman believes it can help his side get to the playoffs. The elephant in the room however is whether Gala would be in a position to sign him given their financial fair play situation.
There are other options but for Gentile, the best fit looks to be Bamberg. It’s a club which doesn’t have a guy who does what he does late in a game right now and has, in Andrea Trinchieri, a coach who is able to command his side well and can handle any ego. Gentile would have the opportunity to run riot in the Bundesliga while potentially salvaging Bamberg’s Euroleague campaign. It’s a big ask, with the five game wait, but right now looks the most sensible move for all concerned.