As NBA teams continue to fill out their rosters, many players are beginning to head overseas. A number of fringe players are opting to sign for the significant guaranteed money that is available from international clubs.
For these players, catching on with an NBA team can sometimes be challenging. They have to grind through the Summer League, followed by training camp and the preseason to even have a chance at earning a contract. With so much risk involved, it makes more sense for some of these players to take the guaranteed pay day. They feel that having a great season internationally can help them earn a guaranteed contract in the NBA.
Some of the players who are heading overseas include some very popular NBA guys. We’ve seen quite a few players over the past few weeks opt to leave the confines of the NBA for international basketball. Some of these players are on the tail end of their career, while some just haven’t been able to fully catch on with an NBA team.
Here are some of the most notable players who will be leaving the United States and making their international debut next season (all of these players have previously played in the NBA and have yet to play overseas):
Amar’e Stoudemire, Hapoel Jerusalem (Israel):
Stoudemire’s decision to sign a two-year deal to play in Israel next season shouldn’t come as a huge surprise. Prior to joining the Miami HEAT last season, Stoudemire hinted that he could play in Israel after his NBA career was over. He’s talked in-depth about his Jewish roots in the past. Amar’e had been a minority owner of Hapoel Jerusalem since 2013, providing another hint that this move has been on his mind for quite some time.
Stoudemire appeared in 52 games last season with the Miami HEAT and averaged 5.8 points per game. He earned starts in 37 of the last 40 games for the HEAT in an attempt to bring a smaller lineup to the court. Stoudemire said that he felt great after last season and can still perform at a high level.
Jimmer Fredette, Shanghai Sharks (China):
Fredette decided to head to China after bouncing around the NBA over the past several seasons. He spent last season in the D-League in an attempt to return to the NBA and was able to earn a 10-day contract with the New York Knicks. He averaged 21 points on 41 percent shooting from three-point range in the D-League.
After last season ended, Fredette joined the Denver Nuggets’ Summer League team in Las Vegas. He averaged 15.2 points in five games for the Nuggets before opting to sign in China. For Fredette, it was likely the size of the contract that persuaded him to leave the United States, as ESPN reported that his deal in China is “north of $1 million.”
Russ Smith, Galatasaray Odeabank (Turkey):
After a couple of seasons bouncing between the NBA and D-League, Smith will head to Turkey next season. In two seasons in the NBA, Smith appeared in 27 games between the New Orleans Pelicans and Memphis Grizzlies.
Smith spent the majority of last season in the D-League. He averaged 27.9 points, 7.9 assists, five rebounds and 2.1 steals per game for the Delaware 87ers. He set the D-League scoring record for a single game after dropping 65 points in March against the Canton Charge. Smith worked out for a number of NBA teams this offseason, but decided to take his talents to Turkey on what is likely a nice contract.
Carlos Boozer, Guangdong Southern Tigers (China):
Boozer has reportedly agreed to play next season in China. He spent all of last season out of the NBA, but managed to stay in shape in order to attempt a comeback. He still wants to return to the NBA and could use next season in China as a chance to show that he can still play.
His season figures to end by March and he could join a team around that time to add depth for the postseason. Boozer last played for the Los Angeles Lakers during the 2014-15 season, when he averaged 11.8 points and 6.8 rebounds in 71 games. The two-time All-Star has played 13 seasons in the NBA.
Cameron Bairstow, Brisbane Bullets (Australia):
Bairstow isn’t nearly as popular as some of the other players on this list, but he did spend the past two seasons with the Chicago Bulls. He played in 18 games in each of those seasons, drawing three total starts during that time frame.
For Bairstow, it was the playing time in Australia that became his biggest reason for leaving the NBA. He averaged less than five minutes per game when he did see the court for the Bulls. His deal is reportedly for two seasons, with a player option for the second year, which will give him the chance to return to the NBA if an opportunity presents itself.
While there have been plenty of players with NBA experience who opt to play abroad, these players above are the most notable who are making their international debuts next season. Most of these players will be using their time overseas in an attempt to make a return to the NBA and will be able to make more money than they’d be able to earn in the D-League or on a minimum contract.
Did we leave anyone out? Hit the comments and let us know if we forgot a player!
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