Trajan Langdon, the Nets new assistant general manager was in Europe last month on a scouting mission. The Nets didn't announce it and such trips aren't that out of the ordinary for an assistant GM. But with Sean Marks repeatedly saying the Nets will be looking at European talent this summer, we figured we would speculate a bit on who and what he saw.
Langdon was overseas just as the Euroleague tournament moved into its final phase and it doesn't take much of an educated guess as to what he was looking at -- point guards. While NBA pool of free agent point guards is shallow this summer, there are at least three point guards who might have attracted the Nets interest.
Milos Teodosic, a 6'5" Serbian who plays for CSKA Moscow. Teodosic has been mentioned a number of times when there's a discussion of the best professional basketball players outside the NBA. He's big, he's a skilled floor general and passer with a deft shooting touch from deep. He's experienced both in Euroleague and FIBA play. He has his deficiencies. David Pick, who covers European basketball, says he "can't guard a traffic cone."
Moreover, reports out of Moscow indicate that Teodosic does not have an "NBA out" in his contract which has a year to run after this one. Teams can always negotiate a deal, but under NBA rules, the Nets can't contribute more than $550,000 to a buyout.. He's 28.
Nando de Colo, , a 6'5" Frenchman who shares the CSKA backcourt with Teodosic. More of a shoot first point guard, de Colo is one of the Euroleague's top scorers every year. No European has averaged more points this decade than de Colo. He shot nearly 50 percent from deep. Does he want to return to the NBA? He's been quoted as saying he wants to stay with CSKA and wants to explore another NBA gig, but not buried deep on anyone's bench.
Over two seasons (when both Marks and Langdon served in the San Antonio front office) De Colo played 98 games for the Spurs (9 starts) averaging 4.0 points, 1.9 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 0.6 steals in 12.5 minutes. He also participated in 6 playoff games. He's a free agent this summer.
Malcolm Delaney, a 6'3" American who plays for surprise Euroleague finalist Lokomotiv Kuban. A native of Baltimore and a product of Virginia Tech. One of the toughest, most durable players in Europe since going undrafted in 2012,, Delaney has set European records this season for minutes and most drawn fouls. A solid floor general, he hits 40 percent from deep. He also wins. Delaney has been on championship teams in France, Ukraine and Germany the last four years and could again this season if Lokomotiv wins the Euroleague crown.
He's got an NBA personality, too. Check out his Twitter feed. He does not suffer fools gladly. He's said he wants to test the NBA this summer. In fact, he called it his top priority.
Are any of the three ready to drop into the NBA scene and become a starter? Maybe Teodosic, but the Nets need depth as the point as well. So looking at a wide variety of PGs makes sense.
There are other players who've excelled in the Euroleague this year, including Sergio Rodriguez, the Real Madrid point guard who played with the Blazers and Knicks and may want to return to the NBA; Delaney's American teammate, 6'11" forward Anthony Randolph, a monumental draft bust with the Warriors who, at 26, is playing his best basketball. Tomas Satoransky, a 6'7" point guard whose rights are held by the Wizards and his teammate on both F.C.Barcelona and the Czech Republic team, 6'11" Wizards bust Jan Vesely. He's attracted NBA attention since last summer's FIBA Europe competition. He's hurt now, however.
The Nets have a big advantage in scouting European players. Between Marks, Langdon and head coach Kenny Atkinson played more than 20 years combined in Europe. They know the scene. They have contacts. Langdon speaks Russian. Atkinson speaks French, Spanish, Italian, German and English. And of course, Mikhail Prokhorov remains the only NBA owner who's also owned a Euroleague team and Sergey Kushchenko was CSKA GM and is commissioner of the Russian basketball league.
Langdon is a particularly powerful name in European basketball circles. While he was in Europe, the Euroleague posted a feature on him, calling him a Final Four Legend. Can't hurt.