HoopsHype Russia rumors

March 3, 2014 Updates
February 21, 2014 Updates

Q (The Al): What do you make of the Nets' interest in Jason Collins? Jorge Sierra: This obviously goes beyond a team adding a big man for its bench. If the Nets go ahead and sign Jason Collins, it's going to be news world-wide because having an openly gay player on your team is not a normal thing to this day. Never been a big fan of Collins (was anybody?), but his was a courageous move. Showing other players there's no punishment in coming out would be a big step for the NBA. Another ramification: The owner of the team (potentially) signing the first openly gay player comes from Russia, where the government/parliament approves anti-gay laws. It would send a strong message. HoopsHype

February 16, 2014 Updates

In 2010, shortly after Prokhorov bought the team, the Nets went around the world in preseason, stopping in Moscow for a practice, then flying on to Beijing and Shanghai for games with the Rockets before flying on to New York. No word on whether the Nets will stop in Russia again. The Nets would like to play regular season games in Prokhorov's hometown of Moscow, but there are no NBA-standard facilities in Russia. The Nets have made a priority of globalization, particularly in Great Britain, Russia and China. The Nets played the Hawks in London this January. Brett Yormark has said the Nets' policy is to "raise our hands" when the league is looking for volunteers to go overseas. NetsDaily

February 5, 2014 Updates

New Orleans Pelicans announced the signing of forward Luke Babbitt, Nizhny Novgorod admitted that the Russian club’s demands were satisfied and his letter of clearance is traveling to the States. As Eurohoops reported the initial reaction of Nizhny was not constrained. However Babbitt had already left Russia and there was no turning back. As Nizhny’s general manager Sergey Panov said: “This situation was unpleasant for the club. We encountered for the first time such a behavior. We did not want his act to go unpunished just because the NBA came calling. Therefore, we firmly negotiated, there were hundreds of phone calls, emails and I met with his agent in Belgrade. As a result, the amount of the compensation that we were paid, is proportionate to his contract with the Pelicans”. The exact amount of the buy out wasn’t announced. EuroHoops.net

February 3, 2014 Updates
February 1, 2014 Updates

Former Portland Trail Blazers forward Luke Babbitt and the New Orleans Pelicans have reached an agreement on a two-year deal, a league source informed CSNNW.com. Babbitt, 24, was playing for BC Nizhny Novgorod of the Russian Professional Basketball League before he left the team recently with the intention of signing with New Orleans. However, BC Nizhny Novgorod wasn’t facilitating that move having issued a statement saying that they will not sign his absentee letter, disallowing him to sign with any other team. The two sides reached a buyout yesterday and Babbitt is expected to report to New Orleans on Tuesday. CSNNW.com

January 31, 2014 Updates
January 30, 2014 Updates

Jose Ignacio Huguet: China and Russia, out of Spain Basketball World Cup 2014. Wild cards will go for Brazil, Turkey, Greece and... Finland or Venezuela. Twitter @josehuguet

A new kind of “cold war” has emerged, this time between American player Luke Babbitt and his Russian team Nizhny Novgorod. Babbitt was the marquee summer addition to the team which competes in Eurocup and VTB league, however he wants to leave in order to return to the NBA as he has a contract offer by New Orleans Pelicans. EuroHoops.net

In a brief interview of Sergei Panov, former Russian national team player and general manager of Nizhny, which was reproduced in the official site of the team, it’s clear that Nizhny at this point will not let Babbitt return to the NBA. As Panov said: “They made us an offer, which didn’t satisfied us. Now we will negotiate through agents, attorneys and lawyers. I learned some new English words after this incident like “spit in the face” and “shit on your soul”". At this point, if Nizhny and the Russian basketball federation refuse to send the letter of clearance of Babbitt to the States, he will not be able to sign anywhere else until the end of the season according to the FIBA-NBA agreement. EuroHoops.net

January 29, 2014 Updates

To summarize, Babbitt left Russia, he apparently has generated NBA interest, BC Nizhny Novgorod is upset that he left at the spur of the moment, and they plan to fight his ability to sign with another team. Babbitt agreed to sign a one-year contract with the Russian team back in August after the Blazers decided not to extend a fourth-year rookie option to the 2010 first-round pick. Babbitt, 24, holds NBA career averages of 3.8 points and 2.1 rebounds over three seasons. Babbitt was averaging 13.3 points and 3.7 rebounds per game for BC Nizhny Novgorod in VTB League play, according to EuroBasket.com. Blazers Edge

January 16, 2014 Updates

Free agent forward Derrick Byars has reached agreement on a deal with Krasny Oktyabr of the European League, a source told RealGM. Byars will sign with the Russian club for the remainder of the season. Byars, 30, appeared in training camp with the Memphis Grizzlies this season, and he’s also signed free agent deals with the Philadelphia 76ers, Oklahoma City Thunder, Chicago Bulls, Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs in a professional career out of four collegiate years at Vanderbilt and Virginia. RealGM

In recent months, however, it appears the dynamics have begun to shift, with Sergei Kushchenko — a longtime Prokhorov associate and his top sports advisor — gradually becoming a bigger presence around the franchise. Meanwhile, Dmitry Razumov — the CEO of ONEXIM Group, Prokhorov’s investment vehicle — has receded into the background. Up until now, Prokhorov’s point man with regards to the Nets had been Razumov. Whenever the Nets had a big decision to make, Razumov always was involved. He was often cited by the front office for his role in various moves, including helping convince Deron Williams to re-sign with the team in July 2012. New York Post

Kushchenko’s appearances around the team have come even as he’s in the midst of preparing for next month’s Olympics in Sochi, Russia. When asked if his role within the Nets organization would grow after the Olympics, his response was short. “Let’s wait for Sochi first,” he said. His résumé within the game is an impressive one. Kushchenko spent seven years with Ural-Great, building the club from an expansion franchise in the Russian Super League to one that claimed the league championship in 2001 and 2002 — becoming the only team besides CSKA Moscow to win the Russian Super League title in the last 22 years. New York Post

January 14, 2014 Updates

Kirilenko -- who confirmed he will not play for Russia in September’s FIBA World Cup in Spain -- will catch up this week with a group of friends who have flown in from his native land to see him in action. ESPN.com

December 27, 2013 Updates

Two weeks ago, using the pretext of a Nets board meeting, Sergei Kushchenko came to New York. He was there to ask some questions and report back. The 52-year old is Prokhorov's chief sports adviser. Kushchenko knows about professional basketball. He served as GM of CSKA Moscow for seven years, winning two Euroleague titles and getting to the Finals two other times. He made the Final Four every year he ran the club. In 2006, he was Euroleague Executive of the Year and in 2008, TIME Magazine named him one of the world's top sports executives. In 2011, Prokhorov named him to the Nets board of directors. His main job now is Executive Director of the Russian Biathlon Union, which Prokhorov heads. But that job will have fewer responsibilities after the Sochi Olympics which end February 23. Don't be surprised to see him with a larger role. NetsDaily

Any rumor missing? E-mail us at   hoopshype@hoopshype.com.