August has been kind to overseas basketball fans so far. There have been many NBA overseas deals and we are able to present you our top ten that features some very familiar faces. We also highly recommend you check out our previous edition featuring notable players that were signed in July.
Let’s get to it.
Trevor Booker – Shanxi Brave Dragons (China)
We start with the biggest name that has swapped continents in recent weeks. Trevor Booker is an 8-year NBA veteran who played for Philadelphia and Indiana, two rising powers in the East, last season. Quite a resume for a veteran minimum deal, yet the Clemson standout wasn’t able to find one in the NBA. Trevor clearly sees himself as an NBA player and his deal with CBA club Shanxi Brave Dragons makes every sense in the world given that. His style of play with raw power under the rim is more than welcomed in China nowadays and he should thrive there.
Joe Young – Nanjing Monkey Kings (China)
It seems the Indiana Pacers have found themselves a Triple-A affiliate league. Young is the third Pacer who moved to China this offseason, along with Booker and Al Jefferson. After two rougher years in Indianapolis, Young has finally found some kind of rhythm. He rebuilt his long-range shooting from scratch with respectable 37.9 percent accuracy in the 2017-18 season. But the Pacers are fully stacked with high hopes of returning to the top of the East. Young simply wasn’t a part of their plans. His athleticism and improved shooting may transform into something big in China, though, and that had to be attractive to him in free agency.
Malcolm Delaney – Guangdong Southern Tigers (China)
With all major contributors gone except for Dennis Schroder (who ironically is also now gone), Atlanta was a pale version of a scrappy and never-dying contender in the East last season. A situation that could’ve been helpful for a lot of rotation players wasn’t the next step for Delaney. Malcolm was stuck in his backup role behind Schroder and was forced to make something happen with a limited group of G Leaguers. It was clearly not the best version of Malcolm Delaney compared to what Europeans fans saw in Germany and Russia. Expect Delaney to come back to his more natural shooting-first role in China and thrive.
Shane Larkin – Anadolu Efes (Turkey)
A successful year with Baskonia was everything that Shane Larkin needed to re-enter the NBA world. He was lucky enough to be recruited by the most successful NBA general manager on the European market, nonother than Danny Ainge. However, Larkin quickly found himself behind the back of Celtics’ rising star, Terry Rozier. Shane was limited to 15 minutes per game and never reloaded his stroke. An injury in the playoffs was another bad sign for the guard coming forward. Anadolu Efes, Shane’s new club, won’t be a contender in the Euroleague next season. This means Larkin will get a chance to show off his skills, a great opportunity for the dynamic guard to get one more shot at the best league in the world.
Isaiah Whitehead – Lokomotiv Kuban (Russia)
Contracts in the 1$ million range are very rare for clubs outside of CBA and Euroleague. However, Russian VTB League clubs can easily afford it, especially in the all-in situation. That’s exactly the case for Lokomotiv, one of the most ambitious teams in Europe, and that is how they were able to acquire Isaiah Whitehead. The Russians have already signed former NBA vets JaJuan Johnson and Dorell Wright and have their eyes on the Euroleague and, who knows, maybe dethroning CSKA in the near future. Whitehead won’t stay in Russia long-term, however. He had a weird year with Brooklyn Nets. After 16 games showing decent numbers in limited minutes, he was traded and later waived by the Nuggets. It’s not a do-or-die scenario for him, but impressive showings in Eurocup and VTB League are needed for the NBA comeback.
Jordan Mickey – Khimki (Russia)
Speaking of wealthy Russian clubs and their love for NBA free agents of the second echelon. Jordan Mickey was a little bit luckier than Whitehead securing a deal with last season’s Euroleague quarterfinalist. Khimki has kept the core untouched with Alexey Shved and Anthony Gill being the cornerstones of another potential long run. All they needed was a solid modern-day center and Mickey seems to be a perfect fit. He spent most of his young career in the G League with affiliates of Celtics and Heat. His latest stint on a two-way contract with Miami was pretty solid. In fact, Jordan was one of the most used (23 games) two-way players last season. However, Miami declined their 1.6$ million option to let Mickey test himself in two top leagues outside of the NBA. He got a deal he liked and now he has a chance to prove how talented he is overseas.
Johnny O’Bryant – Maccabi Tel Aviv (Israel)
Maccabi are no strangers to signing notable NBA players, and Norris Cole is the latest example of it before O’Bryant. This offseason, the Israeli powerhouse concentrated on the bigs. Maccabi has been connected to a lot of names but Johnny was the first one to actually sign the contract. An undersized center with the ability to stretch the floor with decent three-point shooting will make his European debut after 4 seasons in the NBA. He is not an effective rebounder or solid defender at this point of his career but with the right opportunity, Johnny could emerge as one of the biggest steals on the European market.
Joel Bolomboy – CSKA (Russia)
The same applies to the next Euroleague newcomer. Joel Bolomboy’s story is unique in many ways. Born to a Congolese father and a Russian mother in Donbass region of Ukraine, Joel moved to the US in early age. He was one of the most dominant rebounders in the Big Sky conference and after completing 4-year college circuit was drafted by the Utah Jazz. Bolomboy wasn’t able to earn a place in the rotation and quickly became a G League regular. He ultimately ended up on the CSKA’s roster, but it’s not the end of the story. The club announced that he will get Russian passport soon that will make him eligible to play for the Russian national team. In a meantime, Euroleague’s rebounding crown may find its home in Moscow with Bolomboy next season.
Markel Brown – Darussafaka (Turkey)
Add another player who has ties with biggest Russian clubs to a long list. Markel’s stint with Khimki in the 2016-17 season was pretty short and unremarkable, but he still ended up signing a two-way contract with the Houston Rockets the season after. However, his improved shooting still wasn’t enough for Mike D’Antoni’s coaching staff to keep him on the active roster. With Scottie Wilbekin gone, Brown will get a chance to be a major offensive weapon for Darussafaka in Euroleague along with Ray McCallum and Cory Jefferson.
Darrun Hilliard – Baskonia (Spain)
Hilliard is not the first former San Antonio player to sign an overseas deal this summer. His former teammate and also a player on a two-way contract Matt Costello moved to Europe earlier to play for Italian club Avellino. Unlike Costello, Darrun will play in the higher level in Spain and Euroleague. Baskonia has been in search of new blood for quite a while after departures of major contributors such as Rodrigue Beaubois and Janis Timma. Darrun won’t just bring his NBA experience. He has been a regular on Jeff Van Gundy’s Team USA roster in FIBA World Cup qualifying games thanks to his stellar play for San Antonio’s G League affiliate. He will be a force in Spain.
That’s the best ten dudes to make the switch to overseas ball in the month of August so far. There will even be more guys making the move in the coming weeks. Strap in, because the overseas portion of free agency is just getting started.