With the summer looming on us, it’s officially rumors season, not only in NBA but also in the European and International market. With several leagues around Europe and the rest of the world, here at Def Pen Hoops, we’re going to start a monthly column where we’ll focus on the most important rumors and stories going around in the overseas market. Let’s start with the most important league outside of the NBA, so let’s find out what’s going on in the Euroleague market.
After a strong season with his Zalgiris Kaunas, in which he led his team to the Final Four, Sarunas Jasikevicius is the coach of the moment. Even the NBA is looking at him, as reported by Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, the Toronto Raptors interviewed the Lithuanian coach for their head coach opening. If this NBA chance won’t happen, in Europe there are only two teams who can bring Jasikevicius away from Zalgiris: Barcelona and CSKA Moscow. The Russian powerhouse, who was eliminated in the semi-final against Real Madrid, is thinking about a coaching change, even if Dimitris Itoudis, their current head coach, should win the title in VTB League. CSKA’s decision about their head coach could move many other jobs around Europe, such as Darussafaka’s one. The current head coach of Darussafaka is David Blatt, former Cleveland Cavaliers head coach, and CSKA is also showing interest in him, although now official contacts have been taken so far, a source with knowledge of the situation tells Def Pen Hoops. Blatt has been in the mix for an NBA return, his name was considered by Knicks and Bucks, but in the end, it looks like his future will be in Europe again. The coach still has one year left on his contract with Darussafaka and in the coming days the two sides will meet to discuss the situation, a source tells Def Pen Hoops.
Rumors are also spreading around Turkey. Fenerbahce, who won Euroleague last season and arrived at the Final Four this season, lost their main sponsor, Dogus Group, but found a new president. After twenty years of Aziz Yildirim, Fenerbahce elected Ali Koc as the new president of the team. Koc is expected to fix the issue with the main sponsor, considering he’s part of the richest family in Turkey and will likely attract some new investors to the team.
Anadolu Efes is another team that he’s planning to do big things this summer. Coach Ergin Ataman wants a full rebuild of the roster after a disappointing season in Euroleague, and only a few players of the current team will remain. Efes has already made several inquiries, looking to add top names this summer. Among the names they’re looking at, we find guys like Scottie Wilbekin, who’s expected to receive the Turkish passport, former NBA player Chris Singleton, Australian swingman Ryan Broekhoff and Lithuanian forward Edgaras Ulanovas sources tell Def Pen Hoops. Regarding the Turkish players, Efes already has deals in place with Sertac Sanli, who played with Besiktas this season, Bugrahan Tancer and Metecan Birsen as reported by Hazal Coskun of Sportando Turkey.
Italian side Olimpia Milano is already planning their next season and they’ve reached agreements with former Ohio State alum Amedeo Della Valle, Serbian point guard Nemanja Nedovic and former Suns guard Mike James. Milano is playing the Finals in the Italian league but their Euroleague season has been disappointing and the plan is to reach a higher level in Europe next season.
The Spanish league is probably the third best league in the world after the NBA and Euroleague, the reason why the Spanish market is always really interesting to follow. Barcelona just made one of the first big signings of the summer, reaching an agreement in principle with Canadian/Slovenian point guard Kevin Pangos, who lived a fantastic season with Zalgiris Kaunas. Pangos is expected to sign a two-year deal, worth around 3 mil euros in total, a source tells Def Pen Hoops. Despite receiving some level of interest from a couple of NBA teams, ultimately the former Gonzaga alum decided to stay in Europe and ensure a fully guaranteed contract.
Rumors around Spain also tell us that Greek head coach Fotis Katsikaris, who joined Iberostar Tenerife during the season, has turned down a proposal from Unicaja Malaga. He is expected to join a coaching staff in the NBA as an assistant, although it is still not clear which team he will join. Malaga is now turning their attention to Luis Casimiro, the current head coach of Herbalife Gran Canaria.
In Turkish Basketball League, aside from the Darussafaka situation that we’ve already spoken about, there are a few other teams that are looking for a new head coach. Pinar Karsiyaka is targeting Ahmet Caki, who’s considered the frontrunner for the job. Ufuk Sarica is expected to part ways with Besiktas after the team struggled financially this season. Sarica has been linked to several teams, including Pinar and Darussafaka, but the most concrete option for him, until a couple of days ago, was Bahcesehir College, an Istanbul-based team currently in Turkish second division, a source tells Def Pen Hoops. Bahcesehir, in fact, was planning to offer a big-time contract to Saric if they would have obtained the promotion to the top league. Unfortunately, they lost in the final against Afyon so their original plan got derailed.
Last few rumors going around in the International market: Italian coach Andrea Trinchieri, who parted ways with Bamberg during this season, is still waiting for an offer from a Euroleague team. Olympiacos could be an option for him, if they’ll part ways with coach Sfairopoulos at the end of the season, a source tells Def Pen Hoops. Former University of New Mexico alum Alex Kirk is still evaluating his future for the next season. He did pretty well in Japan and Alvark Tokyo would love to keep him but there’s also a good offer from the Chinese league on the table for him. Former NBA champion Andrew Bogut is officially a new player of Sydney Kings in Australia, he’ll play with David Wear, the brother of Los Angeles Lakers’ forward. In Puerto Rico, former NBA guard O.J. Mayo is putting up some decent numbers, averaging 14.2 points per game with Atleticos de San German. Thinking about an NBA comeback would be too premature for him but the player is expected to receive some proposals both from China and Europe for next season, a source tells Def Pen Hoops.