Unicaja Malaga Rumors
From the Nets side, the interest in Unicaja’s players is just the latest indication of how intense Brooklyn’s scouting regimen has become. Miranda speculates who might interest the Nets that they’ve come all this way twice. Miranda’s first choice is Viny Okouo, a (barely) 20-year-old seven-footer from Brazzaville in the Democratic Republic of the Congo … and Serge Ibaka’s cousin. Miranda notes that Okouo has declared for the draft and although he was expected to withdraw, maybe he won’t. The Unicaja center has at 20 just begun his career as an elite player. The normal thing is that he withdraws his name from the Draft this season, as he still has two campaigns left before he arrives at his natural year of selection. But the Nets already know him firsthand and he is a player who, because of its physical characteristics, is very interesting for the NBA.
The Trail Blazers, with two first-round picks (their own and Cleveland’s), will find more value in each pick as the June draft approaches and not in February. Portland also has the draft rights to former 2015 second-round pick Dani Diez, who was acquired in a draft-night trade with Utah in exchange for $1.5 million. Diez currently plays in Spain for Unicaja Malaga.
NBA scouts are asking about the length of Kuzminskas’ contract in Spain. The Los Angeles Lakers and Utah Jazz, among others, have inquired, a source shared with Basketball Insiders. Kuzminskas, who is in his second season with Malaga (the No. 1 seed in the ACB League), averages 10.2 points and 3.9 rebounds in 21.6 minutes per game in the Euroleague – and 9.6 points along with 4.1 boards per contest while shooting north of 38 percent from deep in the Spanish competition.
“Kuzminskas has been very productive this season and there is NBA interest for sure. Teams have spoken with Malaga, but nothing is imminent at the moment,” Lithuanian based agent Tadas Bulotas told Basketball Insiders.
Kuzminskas becomes a restricted free agent next summer as Malaga owns his rights for next season, but according to Bulotas, the Spanish power-club might opt against exercising his extension. “Kuzminskas could leave Malaga, but there is a heavy NBA buyout and a even higher Euroleague buyout,” Bulotas said. “If Malaga [does] well in the ACB and the Euroleague, it might be worth it for the club to lower the buyout and sell Mindaugas. Otherwise, Kuzminskas could leave after next season for free.”
Kuzminskas, I’m told, is open to test the NBA waters at the next Summer League showcase in Las Vegas. His agent confirmed this, saying: “We’re thinking about sending him, the Summer League came up in discussions.”