NBA Players Set For Return

02 December 2011

BASKETBALL IN EUROPE

Danilo Gallinari - Armani Milano
Danilo Gallinari is leaving Olimpia Milano after competing in the Euroleague and Lega

The end has finally arrived for the NBA players who competed in Europe during the lockout.

In the basketball hotbed of Lithuania, that means Zalgiris Kaunas are waving good-bye to Ty Lawson and Sonny Weems.

In Italy, that means Danilo Gallinari is going to leave Olimpia Milano.

French national team players Tony Parker and Ronny Turiaf are leaving ASVEL for the United States, Kevin Seraphin is departing Caja Laboral for Washington and Boris Diaw is departing Bordeaux for Charlotte.

Spain's shot-swatting Serge Ibaka and fellow national team star Rudy Fernandez will depart Real Madrid and of course, Team USA's Deron Williams, who had his No 8 jersey retired by Besiktas on Tuesday night after just three months at the Turkish club, is going back to the New Jersey Nets.

There were ups, and downs, for all the players over the past three months.

"I think it was a good time," Lawson said.

"I encountered a different basketball culture. It was a fun experience, and I'm sad to leave."

Zalgiris, even with Denver Nuggets guard Lawson and Toronto forward Weems, struggled in the Turkish Airlines Euroleague with two wins and seven defeats.

They are leaving Europe on the back of a victory.

Both played in this week's 67-65 triumph over Unicaja Malaga.

"We spent three months together and developed friendships, laughed, and we have been through good and bad times," Lawson said.

"I love these guys and I'm sad to leave.

"I hope that they keep in touch via Facebook, I added them as friends ..."

Weems was particularly good against Unicaja, scoring 18 points, grabbing 11 rebounds and coming up with two steals.

He averaged 17.9 points and 5.3 rebounds per game, while Lawson averaged 7.4 points, 1.6 assists and three rebounds.

In the faster NBA game last season, after Chauncey Billups' trade to the New York Knicks and even with the arrival of Raymond Felton to Denver, Lawson started 31 games and averaged 14.6 points, 6.7 assists and 1.4 steals.

Bye-Bye Gallo

The return of Danilo Gallinari to Olimpia Milano captured the imagination of the club's fans.

An estimated 8,200 showed up to watch Gallinari in his Euroleague game this week against Real Madrid, a clash the Spanish side won 72-65.

He averaged 16.4 points and 4.4 rebounds for the club in Europe but will now turn his attention back to the United States and Denver, where he will catch passes from Lawson and hit three-pointers for the Denver Nuggets.

Rudy & Serge

Rudy Fernandez - Real Madrid
Rudy Fernandez will leave Real Madrid to team up with NBA Finals MVP Dirk Nowitzki in Dallas

Spanish national team duo Rudy Fernandez and Serge Ibaka, just months removed from their gold-medal win at the EuroBasket, featured for Real Madrid for the last time in their seven-point triumph over Milano.

Fernandez played just over 31 minutes and scored 13 points while Ibaka had seven points, six rebounds and two blocks.

The most notable performance for a Madrid player in that game was turned in by their former NBA guard, Sergio Rodriguez.

In 23:33, Rodriguez had 19 points. The playmaker buried three of four shots from long range.

Remembering that Rodriguez played for Spain at the 2006 FIBA World Championship and EuroBasket 2007 but hasn't featured for the national team since, the team has a lot of options for its backcourt.

His performance against Milano would not have gone unnoticed by Spain's national team coach, either, but Sergio Scariolo is also the boss of the Milan team.

Kirilenko's Slow Recovery

The shoulder injury that Russia's national team star, Andrei Kirilenko, suffered in a recent PBL game is going to keep him out of action until January.

AK47 not only hurt his shoulder, but also got a broken nose and cut on the head when he caught an accidental elbow.

CSKK Moscow said in a statement: "Contusion changes in the muscles and ligaments of the left shoulder will require long-term therapeutic measures.

"Taking into consideration the necessity of long-term rehabilitation process and the need to get back into shape through practices, Kirilenko will likely miss the remaining CSKA games in year 2011."

Kirilenko is out of contract in the NBA.

He can remain with CSKA, or return to the States should he decided to join a club there.


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