Nets' Shengelia Looking to Stay In Brooklyn | Zagsblog
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Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
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Monday / April 22.
  • Nets’ Shengelia Looking to Stay In Brooklyn

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    EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – When an NBA team drafts an international prospect like Tornike Shengelia late in the second round, he doesn’t normally come to the United States right away.

    Instead, the team will leave that player in Europe for a couple of years in an effort to have him grow and mature. Then, in a couple of years, the franchise revisits the option to bring him to the NBA.

    Shengelia went 54th overall to the Philadelphia 76ers last week and was immediately traded to the Brooklyn Nets for cash.

    General Manager Billy King had no intention of bringing the 6-foot-9 native of the Republic of Georgia across the Atlantic Ocean right away, but Shengelia’s agent, Guy Zucker, convinced him otherwise.

    As the Nets’ Orlando Summer League team continued their four-day training camp on Saturday morning, Zucker continued to look good for asking and King continued to look good for listening.

    Although Shengelia is admittedly getting used to American basketball and his game as a whole is still a tad raw, he has been something of a revelation. With size, versatility at both ends and the ability to play small forward as well as power forward, Nets head coach Avery Johnson has spent the last two days raving.

    When the Nets begin play in Orlando on Monday morning, Shengelia will be the guy on the roster with the most intrigue.

    “He’s been one of the stars of our camp, arguably one of the top three guys of this camp,” Johnson said after the Nets finished up on Saturday. “It’ll be great to see him play against some other players. We’ve used him at some ‘three,’ we’ve used him at some small ‘four,’ he played exclusively ‘three’ today. If he can be a 6-8 3-guard with his athleticism, with the way he can shoot the ball, with the way he can come off screens and the way he can pass, that increases his stock.”

    In what was considered a weak crop of international prospects in this year’s NBA Draft, Shengelia was the sixth of eight Europeans taken in the second round after a season with Belgian Ethias League finalist Spirou Charleroi, where he averaged 8.8 points and 4.8 boards in 29 games. In 12 Euroleague games with Charleroi, Shengelia averaged 7.6 points per game.

    “My goal is to come here this year, even if I know I won’t play a lot,” Shengelia said. “I think to develop myself for the NBA for next season (2013-14), I can do it better here than I can in Europe. Staying here is my goal.”

    Shengelia has performed well this week in practice and next week in Orlando will be big in his quest to stay, but already working in his favor is the fact that the Nets will need some cheap bodies to fill out a roster that has already committed approximately $53 million in salaries next season to Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Gerald Wallace, Reggie Evans, MarShon Brooks and Mirza Teletovic.

    If the Nets do decide to sign and bring over Shengelia for next season, his buyout from Charleroi is only $300,000. NBA teams are allowed to contribute up to $550,000 towards the buyout of an international player.

    “I think the initial thought was to draft and keep him overseas, but things could change,” Johnson said on Friday.

    “Depending on our roster, we’ll have five games to look at him in Orlando, but he’s playing like a man that doesn’t want to go back over there. That’s what this evaluation process is about. We know what he would like to do, but it just depends upon where we are with our roster and how fast he develops.”

    Photo: NBA.com

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