Potential marquee players for new Champions League Basketball
The release of Champions League Basketball is a major step in kick starting and re-energising basketball within Australia and New Zealand. With a potential commencement built around a tournament style competition in 2016, followed by the season proper in 2017, we look at some of the biggest names that could possibly arrive on our shores to play in this unique start-up league.
So what are the type of players we're looking for? General Manager Matt Hollard explains that simply, the CLB is looking for a crop of 'the most exciting and entertaining that we can get'.
"Players that want to play the game, come in, create a bit of havoc and cause a stir." - CLB GM Matt Hollard on who he depicts as the potential dynamic of players.
With timing restrictions taken into account, many of the CLB's marketable names will vary; from either Europe's elite, Australians currently playing in European competitions and retiring or out of contract NBA stars.
Having all of that in mind, below is a short list of players who we would love to see take the court in the inaugural CLB competition!
Retiring/Retired NBA stars
The 39 year old stud hasn't played much basketball lately, and that certainly isn't due to practice. Despite stories being released recently about the downfall in his life, Iverson still has all the talent in the world to compete in the CLB and Australia may just be the place where he finds peace in his body.
An absolute star throughout his time in the NBA, most notably his stint with the Philadelphia 76ers. His career season in 2000/01 where he went on to achieve the All-Star Game most valuable player, the regular season most valuable player and led his team to the NBA Finals in a 4-1 defeat at the hands of the Kobe Bryant/Shaquille O'Neal duo, has Iverson atop of the list of CLB potential!
T-Mac spent 15 years in the NBA, jumping around from team to team, including the likes of the Houston Rockets, Orlando Magic and even the San Antonio Spurs.
A seven-time All-Star, McGrady has the advantage of already trekking to China in a stint where he once played for Qingdao Eagles. A slight plane trip further south can land him in the CLB. Who wouldn't love seeing T-Mac drop 13 points in 33 seconds again? It's possible if he's shooting 4 pointers! (Get Antoine Walker out here!)
The Truth! Despite not quite yet 'retiring' from the NBA, it's possible that The Truth could be done and dusted by 2017. While it's highly unlikely after seeing dagger after dagger after not quite a dagger (see below) in the NBA Playoffs, Pierce would be a very marketable signature for any CLB club.
Pierce becomes a free agent at the conclusion of the 2014/15 NBA season and is linked to signing a contract with the Los Angeles Clippers. If that deal becomes the Clippers' one chance at an NBA title, the swan song of Paul Pierce may happen in 2015/16 and CLB's grand plans open right up into his hands!
STAT's contract expires at the end of this season which means he's out of an NBA gig for season 2015/16. While Stoudemire will most likely gain a veteran's mininum contract amongst somewhere in the USA, the 32 year old would be a high flying attraction for Aussie hoops fans to watch play alongside one of Australia's elite point guards.
Remember those dunks back in Phoenix?
Yes, Kirilenko may not have Australia at the top of his mind, but currently at CSKA Moscow, he must be considered on this list. Despite Kirilenko stating "I understand that the time has come to think about quitting as a pro player and in my opinion it is better to do it in my dear club’s uniform," who wouldn't want to see the uniqueness of the Russian playing in one of the most unique basketball competitions in the world!
Nando De Colo
A former San Antonio Spur, now Kirilenko teammate at CSKA, De Colo is a well travelled veteran at just the age of 27. A top performer in the Euroleague competition over the past season, he was selected in the All-Euroleague Second Team for his efforts. Averaging a touch over 14ppg in just 24 minutes, Nando might know the meaning of 'a cheeky Nandos' by the time he settles down in the CLB.
A pick for the Aussie/NZ Laker fan boys and girls out there would be for a Champions League team to select Andrew Goudelock in one of the upcoming CLB drafts. Having only played for the Lakers during his time in the NBA, Goudelock now plys his trade for Fenerbahce Ulker in Turkey.
It turns out he's pretty good there also! The 2014 Eurocup most valuable player and a selection in the 2015 All-Euroleague second team alongside De Colo, Goudelock averaged 17ppg in his first Euroleague season. With a 'money-ball, power-play' ruling coming to the CLB, Goudelock's unconscious range could mean a team is putting up points in a hurry.
Another one of the CSKA Moscow boys (yes, they're a good side), Sonny Weems was one of the best players coming off the bench in the Euroleague last season. An All-First Team selection in 2014, Weems is the complete swingman which Australian basketball craves. Athleticism, a great dunking ability, consistent jump shot and the ability to shoot from deep; Weems would be a highlight reel for any side.
Aussies playing in European competitions
A short list of players that could potentially make their way back to our shores:
Player (Age, Current European Club)
Aleks Maric (30yo - Gran Canaria)
David Andersen (34yo, ASVEL Basket)
Brad Newley (30yo, Gran Canaria)
Chris Goulding (26yo, Zaragoza)
Ryan Broekhoff (24yo, Besiktas)
Nathan Jawai (28yo, BC Andorra)
With Cam still being part of the Chicago Bulls roster, his decision to play in the Champions League could potentially mean he loses his spot in the NBA. In a league with such high barriers to entry, Bairstow may not ever receive another offer to re-enter the straining tests of America's elite level.
Despite the Aussie connection, Bairstow may have to weigh up his options if he was ever to be offered a lucrative contract in the CLB.
SWAGGY P!!! Yes, yes, he's still contracted and ballin' for the Los Angeles Lakers, however Nick Young had just recently announced his engagement with Australian rapper Iggy Azalea.
The Aussie connection may need a little persuasion, however a hint regarding a trip down under for a year or two wouldn't go astray. This could mean we get to see Swaggy P light up Australian hardwood, while his soon-to-be wife spends time with the family.
We can only dream, right?
I said we could dream!
At 36, Bryant announced he will retire from the NBA at the conclusion of next season. How much would it take to see him play down here? Surely a meat pie and chips wouldn't go astray?