Now get ready for the “Euro-Stash,” those high-scoring, European rich kids who spend most of their time on the court — waiting for the first check from the NBA.
With the continuing success of international players in the NBA and league general manager's desire to maximize their financial investment, NBA teams have quietly developed what is essentially a strategic reserve overseas — players who were drafted but never signed, players who were “stashed” overseas.
The hope is that they will develop into the next Manu Ginobili of the San Antonio Spurs, Andrei Kirilenko of the Utah Jazz, Peja Stojakovic of the Sacramento Kings or even Nenad Krstic of the New Jersey Nets. All were drafted very young — all but Ginobili were teenagers — and left in Europe to ripen their talents for at least two years.
Nearly two-thirds of all NBA teams hold the draft rights to at least one international player, 35 in all. Some will never play in “the League” — some won’t turn out to be very good, others will be happy to stay in Europe, thank you very much.
GMs remain wary
But the hope of finding the next star deep in the draft is leading more and more teams to take a chance on a late first rounder or more often a second rounder. By some estimates, as many as five European and other international players taken in this year’s draft will be stashed overseas.
Two teams, the San Antonio Spurs and Portland Trailblazers, own the rights to four players each. Seventeen other teams have rights to at least one player, a majority taken with late second round picks. It's that second-round status that makes the market so appealing for NBA GM’s. It’s low risk with a potential high reward.
Taking someone higher than that is a bigger risk. Two NBA general managers who have drafted international players and stashed them agree.
“Would we take a kid who we would have to wait two or three years for? It depends on how high, the level of the team and the player’s level obviously,” said Dallas Mavericks GM Donnie Nelson.
“How high a draft pick would we use on a player we knew we would have to wait for? It depends on the make-up of the team at the time,” added Nets GM Ed Stefanski.
Would he take one at No. 15 this year, when NBA Commissioner calls the Nets name?
“If the right player is there, sure.” Stefanski replied, “but it’s potential than can get you fired in this league.”
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