Jaiteh, who worked out for the Detroit Pistons in their final scheduled day of pre-draft workouts Saturday, very well could be a target of the team at No. 38 overall in the second round. He does not seem open to being anyone’s draft-and-stash prospect, however. “My goal is to join the team next year,” Jaiteh said. “I’ve had three years now playing overseas pro. I really earned some experience, some maturity, and I think if I want to keep improving fast, I think the best is to be around the best players in the world, with the best coaches. That’s why I want to join the team this year and fight for it.”
His subpar, injury-plagued season be damned, Tony Parker joins Boris Diaw and former Spur Nando De Colo among 24 players named to France’s preliminary roster for EuroBasket 2015. France is the defending champion, with Parker having earned MVP honors in leading Les Bleus to their first major title at the 2013 competition. He, Diaw and fellow NBA standouts Nicolas Batum and Rudy Gobert have all pledged their intent to participate with France among four host nations.
Batum said his girlfriend, who is of Russian and Spanish descent, fussed at him for not understanding how his message on the team card could be interpreted if presented without context. “I understand how it could get out, get around and hurt people,” Batum said. “I joked with Spanish players before and I do with French players all the time. I don’t hate Spanish people. My girlfriend is Spanish. I don’t think Marc will make a big deal about this. Worse things [are] said between France and Spain [on the court] in the summer than this was. Trust me.”
Batum said he has not heard from the league about any potential disciplinary action and that he had not yet reached out to Gasol to apologize directly. Batum said he may have a chance during Wednesday’s game to speak to Gasol to make sure the Memphis star understands the intent was not to be offensive.
Batum confirmed Tuesday he was responsible for the part about Spanish players and that a longstanding international basketball rivalry between France and Spain was the source of the comment. He said the message was not intended as a cultural or racist insult. Portland coach Terry Stotts and several of the team’s players have said the card was never meant to be seen by media members who entered the locker room Sunday. But they also insisted nothing on the card was meant to be offensive.
Trail Blazers forward Nicolas Batum has apologized for his role in a team motivational message that included an inflammatory remark about Spanish players, which was perceived as a shot at Grizzlies All-Star center Marc Gasol. “I apologize if I hurt some people,” Batum said before the Blazers practiced Tuesday at FedEx Forum. “But I have total respect for Marc Gasol. He knows that. We’ve talked about it sometimes.” Batum said his intent was never to harm Spanish people or anyone else when he contributed to a list of motivation themes the Trail Blazers posted inside the visitors’ locker room before their 100-86 loss Sunday to Memphis in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series. Among the messages on the laminated card was the phrase: “We don’t lose to Spanish players.”
After finishing his successful tour of duty in China, Pooh Jeter is ready to return to Europe with a deal until the end of the season. The American guard has a lot of European offers on the table, but according to Eurohoops sources his most advanced discussions are with Limoges in France. If Jeter were to finalize the deal, it would clearly be one of the bigger name, end-of-season signings in Europe this year, and a major boost to the title hopes of one of the most respected teams in the French League.
He even has vowed to treat that differently. He and France officials will manage his practice and recovery time and monitor his minutes, just as they do with veteran players like Tony Parker, Boris Diaw and Noah. The goal is to scale back Batum’s demands and enhance his maintenance — all of which no doubt will thrill Blazers coach Terry Stotts.
Even though Batum will play for Team France, he says, he will do a number of things differently, will find a variety of ways to rest and get away from basketball. When the Blazers season ends, he will take a few weeks off to relax and let his body heal and he will not play or practice with the French national team until August. Batum has been invited to take part in an NBA-sponsored Basketball Without Borders trip to South Africa on Aug. 1, after which he will begin ramping up his preparation for EuroBasket.
So Batum has decided to play for the French National Team this summer, when it will try to defend its EuroBasket Championship on native soil in August. The move will be surprising to some, considering the Blazers’ small forward acknowledged last month that he has felt “fatigue” this NBA season, in part, because he overextended himself last summer. But, despite this fatigue — which no doubt led to his subpar season — there was never really a doubt that Batum would play internationally in 2015. “I have to fight for my country,” he said.
The Bulls big man reiterated that playing for France is not one of his priorities. “Playing for France is a great experience as I have always said. But it has never been my priority” said Noah to L’Equipe. “I have always been very frank about it but some players and people don’t understand that” added the Bulls big man. “My priority is my career. Before making a decision I will first speak with the other players that I respect a lot. At the moment I have no answer for the technical director of France NT. I am not in the position to make a decision” added Noah. Coach Collet said that if Noah is not at Eurobasket he won’t play also in Rio if France makes it to the Olympic Games.
Kevin Jones is close to signing with Cholet to replace Michael Wright, according to sources. Kevin Jones, who has played 32 games in the NBA with the Cavaliers (2.9 points per game), spent his last two seasons in D-League with Canton Charge averaging 18.2 points and 8.8 rebounds.
He saw the videos of the mass rally in Paris on Sunday. “I was proud,” Batum said. “I was proud of everybody because close to a million people on the streets and no incidents. Nothing happened. There were 50 world leaders there too and nothing happened. That shows that people greatly respect each other and what happened was bad and evil people. To be honest we had Jewish people and Christian people and Muslim people, we had everyone black, white they stand together. “I was proud to be a Frenchman.”