Thanasis Antetokounmpo is a second round pick of the New York Knicks. Many were excited when the Knicks took him, partially because of his brother's success in the NBA and because of Thanasis' performance in the NBA D-League. However, all along the Knicks have said they intended on stashing him in Europe for a season. To no one's surprise, it looks like Antetokounmpo will play elsewhere this season as New York's roster is full.
After playing well in the NBA D-League last season, Thanasis Antetokounmpo can likely get another job there again this season with or without the New York Knicks. That being said, if the Knicks can secure him a more lucrative offer than he could get on his own, either in the D-League or overseas, obviously he'd be motivated to work something out with New York.
Many second round picks agree to play in the D-League or overseas before the draft. That gives them a better chance at getting drafted when teams have limited roster spots and financial flexibility. As a result, teams often help their draft pick find work in exchange for him declining the required tender which allows them to retain the player's rights.
Obviously, no one what's been discussed and what promises have been made. However, it would be pretty surprising if something isn't in the works being that the Knicks have been very open since drafting Antetokounmpo about sending him overseas.
Thanasis Antetokounmpo, New York's pick, deciding between D-League Westchester or Spain/Italy deal, sources tell RealGM. Knicks roster full.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) August 7, 2014
Antetokounmpo will likely work something out with the Knicks. Phil Jackson didn't pick Antetokounmpo just for the sake of picking someone. He doesn’t want to waste a draft pick. Clearly, he could have used the pick on a European player with no intentions to come to the NBA any time soon if he didn't think Antetokounmpo would stick to the Knicks plan.
The truth is, Antetokounmpo is probably skilled enough to play in the NBA right now. When it comes to playing defense and rebounding he looks right on par with other NBA talent. That being said, his offensive game could clearly use some seasoning.
He could get that overseas while the Knicks get through this season with a full roster and little financial flexibility. It could be a win-win.
However, the Knicks will have to extend him a tender by September 6 in order to keep Antetokounmpo’s rights. That deal could be a fully un-guaranteed one year contract, but without something else being worked out Antetokounmpo could very well accept it.
That would likely mean he'd joining the Knicks during training camp and force the team to either find a roster spot for him or waive him before the regular season begins.
That wouldn't be a big deal if the Knicks intend on Antetokounmpo playing for them this season. However, all signs point in another direction. The Knicks should be motivated to work something out because if Antetokounmpo does accept his tender and is waived he'd become an unrestricted free agent and the Knicks would lose his rights.
That's not something Jackson is going to want. He doesn't need this situation to get that far. Look for him to find a place for Antetokounmpo to mature his game until next off-season when the Knicks will have open roster spots and money to spend on new players.
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