Fourteen teams, fifty centimeters and a mid-season all-star game are some of the things that the NBA has and the EuroLeague doesn’t have.
Trades is another one; and we were are not happy about it here at the CourtSide Diaries HeadQuarters. So we sat down and set to change this by presenting you some of the great things we believe could happen if trading was a core element of a EuroLeague season. Nick Flynt, Pierre Marie Corbacho (aka EuroleagueJam), Andrew Bernucca and Sebastian Komianos gave it some deep (or not so deep) thinking and came up with trades that involve each one of the sixteen EuroLeague teams – some more than once. Note that this is a collective effort but we all acted as individual imaginary GMs – or Emperors’ in the case of Mr Flynt.
Nick approached the concept of “EuroLeague with trades” as if there was a European Trade Tsar, who could force teams to make certain trades.
What follows is the result of that roleplay:
CSKA Moscow: Ignoring the (excluding last season) constant Final Four struggles, CSKA is simply too good. They must trade either Nando De Colo or Miloš Teodosić. If they trade Miloš, it’s pretty obvious that it has to be to a city where he can keep up his hard-partying ways. I think Italy could be a good fit.
Miloš in Milano, like a 1950s musical.
UNICS Kazan: I turn my focus to Kazan with an eye less on basketball and more on justice. Quino Colom is from the capital of Andorra, the beautiful Andorra la Vella. I have been to Kazan, but not Andorra – but I still feel confident saying that an Andorran can only survive in Tatarstan so long. Move him back closer to home. I’m thinking the north of Spain – he goes to Barcelona, and Barcelona sends Tyrese Rice back to Russia (this time much farther from Moscow than he was with Khimki) as punishment for his poor play this season.
Baskonia: The Trade Tsar turns his baleful gaze to Basque country. Why? To purge the shame of Bargnani from the Euroleague community. NBA fans survived him for years, only for his non-defending, offensive possession-wrecking ways to be foisted upon fans of Baskonia and European basketball as a whole. He should be traded to Mens Sana Basket (a team infamously banished from Italian basketball’s Serie A in relation to financial fraud) in exchange for the absolution of the sin of bringing Bargnani into the highest-level of European basketball competition.
Thus ends this decree of the Trade Tsar.
Andrew, with some NBA-trades-watching experience, had the next move:
Maccabi Tel Aviv: Maccabi, who is still in desperate need of a big man, decides to send Victor Rudd back to Zenit. In return they get giant Russian striker, Artyom Dzyuba. Rudd’s only response is, “I’m playing for who?” Meanwhile, Dzyuba doesn’t get a minute’s worth of playing time for Maccabi. Regardless, the Lakers decide to overpay another Russian big man this summer and sign Dzyuba to a huge five year deal worth $175 million. Undoubtedly the most surprising signing of the NBA offseason. (publisher’s note: Dzyuba plays for Zenit FOOTBALL Club)
Galatasaray: Galatasaray still wants another point guard, so they go to Baskonia, which has an entire team full of point guards. The deal they agree to is that they’ll send Galatasaray one of theirs, but won’t tell them which. In return, Ergin Ataman is never allowed to wear an all-black suit during a Euroleague game again.
Barcelona: Still in need of some toughness and fed-up with head coach Georgios Bartzokas, they decide to start offering him to teams. Maccabi decides to go for it, just to make sure Barcelona doesn’t gain any ground on them for which Euroleague team had the most coaches this season. But Maccabi doesn’t send Ainars Bagatskis back, or any coach for that matter. Instead they send Sylvan Landesberg and fifty boxes of black-and-white cookies. Bagatskis and Bartzokas can’t decide who should be head coach, so Maccabi fires both and decides to hire American basketball guru, Skip Bayless.
Olympiacos – Deciding they could use another big body, they contact Galatasaray for Alex Tyus, who plays a similar role to Khem Birch. Galatasaray asks for a direct quote of what David Blatt said to Giannis Sfairopoulos. Olympiacos agrees and the quote Galatasaray gets back is, “there’s no way a team signed Russ Smith this past summer,” probably.
‘Yes, David Pick has THAT MANY sources’ Blatt to Sfairopoulos after the game, probably.
— rodhig (@rodhig7) March 10, 2017
Then, opposing the arcade nature of his twitter handle, Pierre Marie Corbacho was 101% serious about this:
I decided to come up with three “transfers” that “should have” happened during this Euroleague season that would have made the EuroLeague playoff race much more interesting. Granted, I don’t know if these moves would have worked or if the teams (or players) would have agreed to it, but these moves would have definitely entertained the Euroleague Twittersphere and fanbases alike.
Move 1: Anthony Randolph and Dontaye Draper to Barcelona
Anthony Randolph and Dontaye Draper have been key members for first place Real Madrid. Considering the amount of money Real Madrid has to burn, adding these two vets was a smart move in the off-season to build the depth of “Los Blancos” for the long, grueling Euroleague and ACB campaigns.
However, Randolph and Draper, two key members of Lokomotiv Kuban’s Final Four squad a year ago, have sort of taken a backseat in Madrid. While Randolph has been solid and regularly part of the starting lineup, he doesn’t receive the fanfare of Felipe Reyes or Gustavo Ayon, and he also gets lost in the shuffle with Trey Thompkins and Othello Hunter. Draper is in the same category, as he falls in line behind not only Euroleague superstar Sergio Llull, but rising star Luka Dončić as well, who may be the next “tall point God” of the NBA in a few years. Thus, both Randolph and Draper, though important to “Los Blancos’” success, can be seen as a bit expendable simply because there is so much depth at their positions currently in Madrid.
On the other hand, Barcelona has been a mess in Georgios Bartzokas’s first season. Ante Tomić has proven to have aged poorly, and has struggled offensively and defensively against athletic and active post players. Joey Dorsey was a rebounding-only player who provided little, if anything, on the offensive end before he was eventually released. And at point guard, Barcelona has struggled to find any playmaking beyond Tyrese Rice. Not only would both Randolph and Draper have added more scoring, production, and athleticism to this Barcelona team, but Bartzokas would have been able to properly utilize them on the offensive and defensive end, thanks to his experience coaching them in Kuban a year ago. Madrid would never ship two key players like Randolph and Draper to their “El Clasico” rivals, but it would have definitely invigorated the EuroLeague and ACB fanbase to see Randolph, Draper and Bartzokas reunited this season in Catalan country.
I mean… @bc_unics what do you really expect me to do?
— keith langford (@keith_langford) June 17, 2015
Move 2: Keith Langford to Žalgiris Kaunas
Žalgiris Kaunas is still lingering in the playoff picture after a big win over Panathinaikos in Round 25. At 11-14 and in 10th position in the Euroleague standings, second year head coach Šarūnas “Šaras” Jasikevičius should be commended for maximizing the talent on this roster and having them compete against the best in Europe each and every week. There are some interesting and scrappy players on this team in post players Brock Motum, Augusto Lima, Edgaras Ulanovas and Paulius Jankūnas as well as guards Leo Westermann, Kevin Pangos, and Artūras Milaknis. That being said, what has killed Žalgiris this year is the lack of a presence of a true scorer who can create his own offense on a consistent basis.
Keith Langford has been that player this year for UNICS Kazan. He is averaging 22.2 ppg and leads the Euroleague in Index Rating as well at 22.74 per game (barely edging out reigning Euroleague MVP Nando de Colo of CSKA Moscow). And he is doing this for a second-to-last UNICS team that has been ravaged by injury and currently sits at 7-18. Yes, Langford has fit in well for the Kazan-based club (which also participates in the VTB). But, his skills have gone to waste as the team has fallen out of the race dramatically over the past 6-8 weeks.
The Lithuanian Žalgiris fanbase is one of most loyal and passionate groups in Europe, and Langford would fit in seamlessly into their basketball culture. The green faithful would appreciate his talents with sold-out crowds (not the case in Kazan) and multiple huge cheers in his favor game-after-game. In return, Langford would give Šaras and the Žalgiris fans an experienced, competitive and multi-dimensional scorer who would be the missing piece to this tough Žalgiris team. With Langford, this team not only would have been a playoff team, but perhaps would have had some Final Four dark horse potential as well.
Move 3: Alessandro Gentile to Brose Bamberg
This has been a rough year for the once-promising Italian star. After a breakout 2014-2015 season with Olimpia Milano where he averaged 14.4 ppg in Lega Basket Serie A play, and 14.3 ppg during Milano’s 20-game Euroleague campaign, he has gone through a slow, sad fall in Europe. While he averaged 20 ppg in the Euroleague a season ago, Milano did not make it out of the first round of play. To make matters worse, Gentile underwhelmed in Serie A play, as he only scored 11.8 ppg, and shot 49.4 percent on 2-pt field goals and under 25 percent from beyond the arc.
2016-2017 has proven to be a nightmare for the young Italian forward. Gentile struggled to mesh with fellow Milano teammates and staff on and off the court, as he only averaged 10.8 ppg in 9 Euroleague games, and 9.5 in 6 Serie A games before head coach Jasmin Repeša and Milano management cut ties due to the star’s difficulties on and off the court (he apparently did not get along well with Repeša). New Panathinaikos head coach Xavi Pascual took a flyer on him, hoping that Gentile would give the Athenian club some offensive firepower as well as improve the team’s depth in the frontcourt, lacking due to an injury to James Gist in the pre-season. Unfortunately, Gentile never seemed to gel with his Pana teammates or fit in Pascual’s offensive and defensive system. After averaging only 3.2 ppg in 9 games, Pana released Gentile, leaving his future next season in Europe and beyond in doubt.
Brose Bamberg has surprised in many ways this season, staying competitive in the Euroleague even though they don’t have the financial resources of other clubs in Europe. Much like Žalgiris or Crvena Zvezda, while they lack star power, they stay competitive due to excellent coaching and superb team chemistry. A lot of that can be credited to Italian head coach Andrea Trinchieri, who has helped Brose overachieve in the Euroleague in his tenure as head coach, and created a culture of winning in Bamberg (both in the Euroleague and BBL). If there is one coach who could connect to Gentile and help turn around his career, it would be Trinchieri (a fellow Italian) who, while a bit eccentric, always seems to get the most out of his players, and finds the right roles for them in his offensive and defensive system. Gentile, a free-wheeling scorer, would have brought much needed relief to this Bamberg team offensively — especially to Nicolo Melli, who has been the focus of opposing defenses since mid-season. Of course, would there be a chance Gentile would implode in Germany like he did in Greece? Perhaps, but I think Trinchieri’s more “free-flowing” offense and personality would have meshed with the volatile Gentile better than the more rigid Pascual.
Finally, Sebastian Komianos – the last to arrive at the party but with the great pleasure of deciding a trade for Panathinaikos Athens!
Thinking about what trades could be interesting for Crvena Zvezda, Anadolu Efes, Darussafaka Dogus and Panathinaikos BC I have three teams that don’t really inspire me to come up with anything closely interesting and one team that begs me to have a full go at it.
Efes and Darussafaka are in the very bad situation where they actually have to fight hard to secure their playoffs seeds – despite Barcelona and Bamberg being horrible this season. In contrast, Red Star is enjoying a great season and are already planning their playoffs celebrations against whichever team the final standings bring them. And it’s not just the teams that need to improve but also their fans. So, in a move that has never happened before in the history of trading or sports in overall, Efes and Darussafaka send Bryant Duston, Derrick Brown and Will Clyburn to Serbia in return for a six-months training programme for their fans, delivered by the “Delije”. Zvezda’s ultras travel to Istanbul to attend Efes and Dacka home games and show their fans a couple of things and then the Turkish go to Belgrade to actually see how it is done. In the meanwhile, the player additions have taken Crvena Zvezda from a team that you can’t easily beat to title contenders (kicking CSKA Moscow out in the playoffs and saving the Russian team from the torture of meeting Olympiacos BC again at a Final Four – so everybody wins!).
And then, Panathinaikos. My beloved Panathinaikos Superfoods!
Dimitris Giannakopoulos stuns everybody when he publicly calls Želimir “Željko” Obradović out to be “a man of his words” and prove that he meant it when he told “Pana” fans that he is not abandoning the team just before the “Preznit” took charge. Of course, Žoc is not suicidal and doesn’t plan to drop his lucrative contract with Fenerbahce – let alone to be an employee of Giannakopoulos – but with those words to defend he decides to send over the player that is holding his team together: Bogdan Boganovic.
Panathinaikos adds another small forward to their roster, Chris Singletton tweets that “if you are planning to build a football team out of SFs I am going back to China”, Xavi Pascual states that “this was the plan from the beginning, everything in my playbook requires at least 4 SFs on the court – and I’d say 5 but I gotta play Bouroussis, comprende?” and Olympiacos BC fans are left disappointed that the deal didn’t include Kostas Sloukas also so they can demonstrate their appreciation to him more often.
What about Fenerbahce, I hear you wondering, what are they getting? Well, an excuse for another failed attempt at the EuroLeague title sounds pretty solid to me.