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.
With Status in China in Limbo, Emmanuel Mudiay Could ‘Pull an Exum’
Emmanuel Mudiay could “pull an Exum” and just not play competitive basketball until the 2015 NBA Draft, one league source told SNY.tv Friday.
“Sources close to him say that he is going to pull a Dante Exum,” the source said. “That is more logical than coming back to play in the D-League.”
After not playing competitively last season, the 6-foot-6 Exum ended up as the No. 5 pick of the Utah Jazz in the 2014 Draft. There was an aura of mystique around the Australian guard precisely because he hadn’t played competitively, which prevented scouts and analysts from picking apart his game. He’s currently averaging 4.5 points and 2.2 assists for the Jazz.
The 6-5 Mudiay is currently projected as the No. 2 pick in 2015 by DraftExpress.com, behind only Duke big man Jahlil Okafor. If he doesn’t play until the draft, he could develop the same aura of mystique from which Exum benefitted.
Teams like the Philadelphia 76ers (1-17) and the Knicks (4-16) could certainly benefit from adding Mudiay, either as a young talent for the future or as a trading chip.
Yahoo! Sports reported that Mudiay’s future is unclear because he has missed four straight games with a sprained ankle and his Chinese team, the Guangdong Southern Tigers, was finalizing a deal to sign veteran guard Will Bynum.
Bynum’s agent, Mark Bartelstein, confirmed to SNY.tv Friday that Bynum had in fact signed with Guangdong.
Chinese teams are only allowed two Americans, so the team could opt to waive Mudiay, who signed a $1.2 million deal to play there after it was reported he would be ineligible at SMU. Or they could keep him around and see what happens when his ankle gets better.
“I could see, if his stock is raised, him saying, ‘I’m checking out,'” one NBA GM told NBA.com before the injury. “I could see that. Does he do it? I don’t know. But look what happened with Exum last year. It didn’t really hurt him, did it? There’s an argument to be made that [Mudiay] doesn’t have to do anything.”
Prior the injury, Mudiay said he planned to remain in China until their season ends, according to this report which was translated. ”
“I will, without question,” he said. “Right now I’m playing in Guangdong, and will definitely be with the team until the end, through the end of the season.”
Mudiay would be eligible to sign with the NBA D-League if he receives clearance from FIBA, but why would he risk that path when he could just train for the Draft and build his stock the way Exum did?
“I don’t think it would help him,” one D-League source said. “It would only hurt.”
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.