First, we moved the 3pt line a whole 50 centimeters further away from the basket so it’s closer to NBA’s distance. Then, EuroLeague decided to change its competition format to a “every team plays every team twice and the first 8 proceed to the playoffs”, so it resembles the NBA. So, it’s about time we adopt the NBA’s trades system too, don’t you think? Continuing the tradition we started last season, five CourtSide Diaries authors came up with some moves that will shake things up in all of the 16 EuroLeague teams – for better or worse is up to you to decide!
Nick Flynt acted like a “European Trade Tsar” last season and his first trade that you can read about below would only be possible if a Tsar forced it to happen.
CSKA Moscow – Olympiacos Piraeus
“Those two teams are at the top of the EuroLeague standings,” I hear you saying, “Why would they want to transfer anyone or anything?” You already know why CSKA would want to make a move. They just have to offer enough to get the Reds to bite. The details:
CSKA Moscow trades any 3 players (except Kyle Hines) and a blank check to Olympiacos in exchange for Vassilis Spanoulis. He can’t beat you if he’s on your team! A brilliant move by CSKA that would, probably, unfortunately have them beaten in the playoffs, while OLY advances to the championship game 2 years in a row. CSKA remains satisfied because they were eliminated by someone other than OLY and Kill Bill.
BC Žalgiris – Fenerbahçe
Žalgiris is currently 4th in the EuroLeague standings, but only a distant 6th in net score among teams currently in the top-8. To be a legitimate contender for the Final Four, they need to either improve their already-solid offense to the point that it becomes elite, or change their decent-yet-sometimes-underwhelming defense into something consistently above-average. I’m choosing the defensive route. Žalgiris acquires Jason Thompson from Fenerbahçe in the middle of a game when Thompson lets a nice Sloukas feed bounce off his hands out-of-bounds. As Željko turns purple in rage and prepares to call timeout to shout at and sub Thompson out, a Žalgiris representative offers to take him in exchange for Axel Toupane and cash considerations. Obradović realizes he’s been had once his fury subsides, but the papers are already signed. He comforts himself by shouting at Toupane over questionable rotations for the rest of the season.
BC Khimki – Olimpia Milano
Khimki is 4-6 in their last 10 games, barely clinging to the 8th spot in the standings with a -31 net score. The front office didn’t sign 13 Americans for these kind of results, injury troubles or no. Aleksey Shved’s shooting percentages aren’t thrilling anyone. So they call up the bottom-dwelling Italians. “You need entertainment for your crowds. You aren’t going to compete. So how about…” Milano agrees to trade Bertans and an aging Micov for Shved, Marko Todorovic, and a lifetime supply of Shved brand clothing.
Huge day for Shved clothing line. I’m sure that sales at least tripled on the verge of today’s hype pic.twitter.com/uZKuFkWTtM
— Alexander Chernykh (@chernykh) September 1, 2017
Anadolu Efes – BC Prienai
Let’s face it, Efes has no chance to compete this season. They’re dead-last in attendance. It’s time to shake something up. What’s the best way to do that? Bring in the Balls. LiAngelo and LaMelo — sure, okay, whatever. They aren’t going to help you on the court. We’ll say the Turkish club trades Doğuş Balbay for them or something, who cares? Sorry, DB, I know you’ve spent your entire career with either Fener or Efes, but it’s time for a change of scenery. The real score in this trade is the stable genius of LaVar Ball. He comes with his sons, and he brings a media storm (and yes, circus) of attention and promotional opportunities. Suddenly the stands are filling up as LaVar sets up a promotion in which he wrestles a bear. Or maybe he convinces the ownership to leave EuroLeague and instead play a series of challenge games against the Globetrotters! The possibilities are endless. Maybe one time, before a TSL game, he shows up to the arena dressed-up in a bear costume. He refuses to speak to anyone, and doesn’t explain why he did it at any point afterwards. Tell me that won’t drum up some interest. Or perhaps he’ll start a joint venture with beloved meme men Salt Bae and Köksal Baba. This leads to renewed interest in Turkish culture back in the States. International relations between the nations improve. With LaVar, it’s all possible.
Lewis, as a newcoming GM, has trades for four Spanish teams with Barcelona involved in most of them and Zalgiris Kaunas receiving a bonus in the process
FC Barcelona – Zalgiris Kaunas
(Kaunas Receives: Petteri Koponen, Ante Tomić – FCB Receives: Kevin Pangos)
This move makes sense for almost everyone. Barcelona is in desperate need of a lead guard to propel them up the table and perhaps wishfully into playoff contention. Preferably someone who can shoot a little. And run an offense. This season Pangos has made the leap in becoming an elite Euroleague guard after spending last season learning at the Šaras school of Point God-ness. Automatically, he becomes FCB’s lead guard – allowing Heurtel to move into a more comfortable 2nd unit role. It also allows Barcelona to clear out some of the guys at the end of the rotation in Koponen and Tomić without diminishing their depth all too much. Ideally I would have included Pressey instead of Koponen, but I’m pretty sure even Šaras wouldn’t do his former club such a favour by accepting that deal.
BONUS: Pangos has an EU passport, so FCB can hold onto that import slot.
For Kaunas, a team who now hold serious playoff ambitions, this deal may actually…. make them a contender. After missing out on Kuzminskas, they strike gold with Ante Tomić : an offensive hub at the center spot, who can use his incredible size and passing chops to feed the athletic cutters currently slashing in Kaunas, whilst receiving enough touches to keep him engaged on defense. In Koponen, Kaunas get a proven marksman with plenty of experience at Europe’s highest levels. He has good size for either guard spot and a bigger opportunity to shine (aka more than 10 minutes a game) than he’ll ever receive at his current club. Petteri is the next Jasikevičius backcourt reclamation project
Not sure Kaunas takes this deal. Might have to include Vezenkov or Kurucs (loan) to sweeten the pot enough to make the Lithuanian giants bite. Vezenkov in particular could be a machine in their offense.
FC Barcelona – Valencia
(Valencia Receives: Phil Pressey, Victor Claver, Pau Ribas – FCB Receives: Guillem Vives)
Ok, it’s a lot to give up for Vives. Especially given his injury nut Barcelona are still winning this trade. In reality, it does exactly what FCB should have done during the summer. Factor in the previous Pangos trade, and FCB now looks something like this:
C: Seraphin/ Oriola
Both Pangos and Vives are more than capable of playing on or off the ball. Vives’s ability on the defensive end doesn’t make losing Pressey so painful, while improving them offensively with his excellent distribution. Plus it allows for a potential small ball lineup of Vives (or Heurtel), Pangos, Hanga, Sanders, Oriola. Vives , Oriola, and Hanga could make for an EuroLeague All-Hustle first team. When Sanders and Pangos get hot they provide enough spacing to make this work on the other end infinitely better than anything FCB are producing at the moment.
Valencia gets some proven EL contributors and, most importantly if they want to finish the season with a respectable record, some much needed depth whilst adding some players with a point to prove. Pau Ribas is an elite guard at this level, but needs more minutes than are offered now, and which would be offered in this retooled Barcelona side. Pressey, for all his offensive limitations, is an athletic backcourt defensive demon who could create some nice pick and roll/pop action with Bojan Dubljević whilst shoring up some of Valencia’s defensive issues. Victor Claver, when healthy, offers more depth and experience than anyone else on this roster — and is still a valuable contributor as a 4 (or in short bursts the stretchiest of 5s). Most importantly for Valencia however, these guys give the team legitimate depth, and they are actually healthy now. That’s a major bonus for a side that has been ravaged by injury all season.
Baskonia – Real Madrid
(Baskonia Receives: Chasson Randle, Rudy Fernández – Real Madrid Receives: Jayson Granger)
Both teams need something to switch it up, and this might be exactly what’s needed.
Baskonia get another experienced head with Rudy who, although not the offensive monster he once was, is still a huge plus on defence. Which they need. Badly. With Randle there is a little bit more mystery, but if his play in the D/G League transfers, Baskonia gets itself another shooter and offensive hub at the guard spots which they could do with, given the injury troubles they’ve had of late.
In Granger, Madrid finally finds a Robin to Dončić’s Batman. A complementary ball-handler and scorer, Granger would allow Madrid to ease up on Luka as the season wears on, while giving him another option to kick it back out to on the perimeter.
BONUS: Clears up an Import slot for Real Madrid, which they should use on Quincy Miller. Yes, I’m aware Bamberg didn’t pan out. Neither did Maccabi really. But he will come cheap, and they need frontcourt help on both ends. Miller showed enough defensive and shooting potentially to warrant a gamble from a side needing a bit of juice at this point in the season, more so when you factor in their injury woes.
Plus, a lineup of Granger-Doncic-Taylor-Randolph-Miller? A switchy defensive monster where everyone can get inside or attack from the perimeter at will— at least on paper, this looks like a side with the star power and depth to make a scene in Belgrade come May.
Our second newcomer, Pierre, in comparison to all the others decided to keep it minimal (with a pinch of politics in the mix)
Barcelona – Spirou Charleroi: Free Thomas Heurtel
There is an obvious need for independence in Catalonia right now. And let’s be clear, we all know that the revolutionary vanguardism of this movement has found its leader in Thomas Heurtel, who is playing with total freedom in mind. Neither Spain nor the EuroLeague are ready for what he is doing, but his Tintin-like haircut may find him a place to blossom as a comic book character — Spirou Charleroi. This idea is to trade Thomas Heurtel for the rights of Carles Puigdemont, and the big body of Raško Katić, who will bring some much needed toughness in the paint for the Blaugrana.
Olimpia Milan – Brose Bamberg: The Milano Fashion Week
No, Milano doesn’t need to bring back Alessandro Gentile. The acquisition of Mindaugas Kuzminskas isn’t a trade, but it’s a perfect fit to compensate for the lack of impact showcased by Cory Jefferson at the 4. But one thing they could use in Milan is another good wing or two, the kind that can simply play off the ball while others create (and hit some open shots). Which means that again, no, they should not trade for Alessandro Gentile. Their final option is to bring in the ultimate 3-points specialist in EuroLeague — the one and only Lucca Staiger and his infamous stat of only 2 two-pointers taken in 101 Euroleague minutes this season (his others EuroLeague campaigns weren’t much different). The guy is shooting 42.5% from beyond the arc in his career and at least he won’t clog the paint or prevent Gudaitis and Tarczewski from rim-running. He would be traded for whomever Andrea Trinchieri is interested in, and it should be Davide Pascolo because Trinchieri, as a man of taste and cultural knowledge, must certainly be interested in a such a “work of art” jumpshot.
Andrew Bernucca focuses mainly on Real Madrid but also takes care of Barcelona, Anadolu Efes and Maccabi Tel Aviv
Real Madrid – FC Barcelona
Sito Alonso seems to have finally figured out some semblance of a rotation that involves lineups which are conducive to winning. However, the roster still has some holes and one of them must be filled by an athletic stretch four to pair with Pierre Oriola — who has impressed when playing the five — or Ante Tomic, who has been a great pick-and-roll partner with Pau Ribas. The first option, which would probably never happen, is an El Clasico trade. But, Los Blancos are in desperate need of another center with all the injuries that have affected their roster. So Barcelona could send either Kevin Seraphin or Tomić for Trey Thompkins, who is having an incredible year with the increased amount of playing time. Real sells high on Thompkins and Barcelona finally shortens their center rotation to two, plus a few small-ball options.
I already mentioned the injuries Real has incurred this season. They’ve scrapped and fought for every win this season and have been carried by 18-year-old wunderkind Luka Dončić . Dončić is going to need help soon, though, so Real is going to make a call to the NBA to try and bring back a former EuroLeague star. Nemanja Bjelica won EuroLeague MVP honors for the 2014-15 season as he helped lead Fenerbahçe to their first Final Four ever. After that season he crossed continents and signed with the Minnesota Timberwolves of the NBA, where they have made little-to-no-effort to use him properly. His health hasn’t helped either, but even when he is healthy he is vastly underused. Real could certainly use a player as talented as Bjelica. In the season he won MVP, he looked like a Serbian LeBron James. Getting rebounds, guarding bigs, and then running the offense in all its forms at the other end, at times while draining threes and finishing at the rim with emphatic slams. I miss that form of Belly and so does everyone else. To get him, Real Madrid will have to make a huge offer, because the Timberwolves are going to have to buy his contract out. So Los Blancos will offer the draft rights to Santiago Yusta, Dino Radončić, and Dončić! (I know this isn’t how draft rights actually work, but this is pretend world so we can all just pretend that these three young prospects said the only NBA team they’ll sign with is the Timberwolves, as long as they fire head coach Tom Thibodeau and hire David Blatt.) Bjelica and Dončić together would be like nothing Euroleague has ever seen before. The two of them are such complete players that they could take turns being point-forwards, and run the offense based on who gets the rebound. Could you imagine pick-and-pop/pick-and-roll with Belly and Dončić alternating as the ballhandler? It’d be unstoppable.
Anadolu Efes – Maccabi Tel Aviv
Yes, I was woefully wrong about this team in the pre-season. Now we can move on to what they need, which is some perimeter defense. Errick McCollum and Ricky Ledo are solid perimeter scorers — although the latter has been very unimpressive this season. With that said, they aren’t the best defenders, and the team is in desperate need of a solid defender to turn them into a solid trio. That man could be DeAndre Kane, who is averaging just under a steal per game and impressed when matched-up with Dončić in Round 16. In return, Maccabi gets Zoran Dragić, who has been poor this season, but perhaps a change of scenery will do him some good. Plus, he’s a player who is comfortable playing both wing spots. He’d be a solid back-up to Michael Roll, and both teams really have nothing to lose in this trade, as neither are giving up a key player.
Finally, as nobody made any trades for Panathinaikos BC, Unicaja Malaga and Crvena Zvezda, Sebastian Komianos brainstormed for them
Panathinaikos gets: Nemanja Nedovic – James Augustine
What does PAO need? A backup point guard to give Nick Calathes some good rest in the remaining months and a solid presence in the paint. What does PAO get? Exactly that! Unicaja Malaga loses two its best players, though, so they are already waiting for something big out of this trade.
Crvena Zvezda gets: Marcus Denmon – Kenny Gabriel
Zvezda, despite the big departures from last season (their coach’s being the most important) and its financial problems, is coping quite well, just one win shy of a playoffs spot. In fact, they have lost 4 games with a difference of less than 7 points so that the “they could have been in the playoffs positions with one or two players of better quality” argument isn’t really that far-fetched. And it’s exactly these two players that they are getting from Panathinaikos as part of this multi-team trade that I devised. Unicaja Malaga is still waiting for something big though, so…
Unicaja Malaga gets: Aleksandar Nicolic and Kombank Arena to be used in the ACB playoffs, Crvena Zvezda’s crowd to support them in those games, travel costs for the team and the fans covered by Panathinaikos BC’s owner, Dimitris Giannakopoulos (with a special term that the means of transportation won’t be a bus, of course), and an option for any Panathinaikos’ guard and Zvezda’s center for the next 10 years.
I mean, as it looks right now, Malaga is pretty much indifferent in the EuroLeague and they could use some extra boost from the fans come Spanish league playoffs. Plus, with Zvezda having a pretty impressive history with centers lately (Marjanovic, Kuzmic, Lessort) and with guards being the best element that Greek basketball has been produced in the last 10 or so years, those options look damn sweet, don’t they?
Text edited by: Nick Flynt