Samhan to Townsville: Is it all about the money?
|Steve Chalmers||Dec 9, 2015|
That's the Townsville Crocodiles right now, trying to sell to their fans on an idea. The idea that the decision to part ways with club captain Brian Conklin and secure Omar Samhan as a replacement, is not due to financial concern.
Who knows, maybe they should have tried to sell it harder. You know, bring in Jesse J for their next home game and tell them again that it's "not about the money, money".
In any case, the damage has been done. The league's reigning MVP has been tossed, and a 6 foot 11 American/Egyptian who was being introduced to the country via the SEABL competition next year has been fast-tracked to end up at the Swamp.
Is this move a good idea?
A look at Samhan's basketball journey
Samhan hasn't seen the hardwood since March this year, after being released by the Texas Legends in the NBA Development League.
Don't let that fool you though. The Saint Mary's product (an absolute haven for Australian players and now players to find themselves in the NBL) looked like he had what it took to become a professional NBA player - it just didn't seem to stick at the time.
Undrafted in 2010, Samhan had the opportunity to live the dream when playing for the Dallas Mavericks in the Summer League. He scored at an average of 10ppg and grabbed 7rpg, numbers which were servicable for an end-of-the-bench big man.
"I probably could have got that 12th, 13th spot with Dallas, but Zalgiris (in Lithuania) offers me three years, over a million dollars... It's hard to say no to that for a 'maybe'." - Omar Samhan back in 2010
Maybe it's not about the money?
Maybe it is.
One season at (Australian Brock Motum's current club) Zalgiris in 2010/11 was enough for Samhan to make the Euroleague's Final 16. However, from there he found a way to play in more countries that he probably never expected to.
His potential NBA career dwindled away as he played two games in the Phillippines, then five months in Germany before Egypt and Poland came calling.
How many players have gone from the Phillippines to the NBA? Not many.
And what happened to those big pay cheques he was being offered?
A return to the NBA dream?
Samhan talked about how college basketball was much easier, compared to the pro years, and the yearning for a return to the NBA surfaced.
"It was easy in college at St Mary's. I'm right at home, they give me the ball every time, I'm on TV, it's great. Since then it's different everywhere you go - a different style, every coach expects something different out of a big." Samhan commented during an interview with The National in Egypt during January last year.
"I think in the next year or two, I'm gonna try to play D League, work my way back there. My dream is to play in the NBA, and I wanna get back to that level," he says. "I've been to training camp with Houston and Dallas, both went well, but I had good offers so I left, or they asked me to go to the D League and I left, but I'll really try this year to stick it out and make it happen."
Trying to find his roots back in the States, and still hoping to find that elusive NBA contract, Samhan returned to the USA to ply his trade in the D-League for Texas.
The opportunity was there, but at just 2.3ppg and 2.67rpg in his 18 games (12mpg) for Texas, it was the Townsville Crocodiles who came calling, not the Memphis Grizzlies.
"I have a weird skill set for a big. I like to shoot, shoot fadeaways, up and unders, stuff like that. A lot of coaches aren't used to that style from an American big."
Weird skill set or not, Crocs head coach Shawn Dennis is ready for Samhan; he knows that he needs an offensive big to rev the Townsville offense.
From Dallas to Cairo to Paris to Townsville, it's been a long road for a unique player. If he finds his feet fast in Australia, another Saint Mary's alum may just call this country home.
For the Crocs, it's an opportunity to use what was once a fringe NBA player looking for his next passage of play, where he can find his next payday continuing to play the game he loves.
It's all about the money.