Monday, August 18, 2008

Which Jazz Players Love Techno?

As the Olympics, and Team U.S.A., roll along, it is clear that globalization has hit the NBA. Other nations are beginning to spend cash to train athletes, and the results are paying dividends. The Spanish team that was dismantled on Saturday is saturated with current and former NBA players. Teams from small nations (Lithuania) have numerous players with international-level skills, and teams from huge nations (China) are quickly leveraging the size of their populace to their advantage.

But the more dramatic example of basketball globalization may be more a result of changing economic conditions rather than improved player development. Josh Childress, among others, was lured away from the best league in the world because of the almighty Euro. Rumors abound that Lebron, or Kobe, might journey across the Atlantic for piles of fake-looking money.

But how does this all affect the Jazz? Can the most provincial of NBA teams possibly be touched by global currency fluctuations? You bet.

Most Jazz players are not attractive to European teams, whether it is because of the player's contract or style of play. Paul Millsap, an absolute beast for the Jazz, would not be as valuable in the uptempo, shooter-dominated leagues in Europe. Same goes for Ronnie Brewer, and Harpring. Some guys (Deron and Boozer) aren't going anywhere because they are getting big time money here at home. Collins has no recognizable basketball talent, so the Jazz are stuck with him too.

But there may be some Euro-interest in these guys:

1. Andrei Kirilenko: Superficially at least, AK seems a likely candidate to sign with one of the cash rich Russian teams, like CSK Moscow. He even threatened to leave once before when he and Sloan were fighting. But while his inside-out game seemingly originates from the old world, his contract is 100% American capitalism. It's unlikely that any team, European or otherwise, is going to offer AK anywhere near the $15 million that the Jazz are paying him. He's just not worth that much. What's more, he's got an astounding three more years making beaucoup bucks until heading home is even an option. However, the wildcard here is that some Russian teams aren't worried about investment returns; their owners are billionaires that lose money owning their teams, but do it out of patriotic pride. Could a Russian owner be enticed to dangle millions of Euros in an effort to lure Kirilenko home as Russia's Michael Jordan? And would the Jazz let him out of his contract if he wanted to go?

Kirilenko's Euro Rating: 3 out of 10

2. Memo Okur: Okur is another guy that you'd expect to take a long hard look at Europe. He's a prototypical European center, married to a former European beauty queen, and he loves falafel in the offseason. He can opt out next year, and his current salary (about $4.5 million after taxes) is actually less than what Childress will be making in Greece. The real question with Okur is whether he prefers the limelight of the NBA to playing in Russia, or Greece. No Turkish teams have the kind of economic clout that the rich European teams have, so he'd still be playing in a foreign country, it would just be closer to home. So it may come down to whether he'd rather play soccer with his beauty-pageant wife in the idyllic hills surrounding the Aves, or on the frozen tundra of PSkov.

Okur's Euro Rating: 4 out of 10.

3. Kyle Korver: What's that, you say? Kyle "Kountryboy" Korver moving to Europe? Preposterous, right? Maybe not. Korver is the Jazzman with the most Euro-translatable game: he is big (6"6'), a pure shooter, and plays a solid team game. Plus, he makes about $6 million in the NBA, which translates to a measly 4 million Euros. Combine that with the perks of Europe (free house, car) and what's not to like? Well, besides that aggressive secularism sweeping across Europe and the absence of the K2 church.

Kyle's Euro Rating: 3 out of 10.

4. Kyrylo Fesenko: Let's be honest - Kyrylo's Rocky Mountain Revue was an abomination of the highest degree. There is something about this guy that makes coexisting with Sloan seem highly unlikely. He's making peanuts, and the Jazz have an option on him next year, but unless I'm totally off on this one, Fesenko may not even become one of TCG's Jazz greats (and the bar is pretty low). Anyway, why would Kyrylo keep plying his karate big-man act in Boise/Orem, when he can get paid in his home country of Russia (once the Russian army invades the Ukraine, I mean)? You know what? I can't think of a reason why he wouldn't.

Kyrylo's Euro Rating: 10 out of 10


Tucker McCann said...

I recently read that "TAU Vitoria" is in desparate need of a big man to catch heating pads and give chest bumps before tip-off, so don't count Jarron Collins out of the European exodus just yet!

Pasty Gangsta said...

What happens if Russia invades Ukraine the day the Jazz open training camp? Do Fes and AK -- two Jazz players once united by a love of ridiculous blond haircuts and a hatred of Jerry Sloan -- come to blows? If only we had Tony Parker or another Frenchman on the team to broker the peace.

Orlando said...

Fun fact: the K2 church that Korver attends was founded, in part, by the University of Utah's own Luther Ellis!