Sportando's David Pick sheds light on Keith Langford (193-G/F-83, college: Kansas)'s NBA and European offers, problems with Khimki Moscow, conversations with Ettore Messina, text messages with David Blatt, interest from Barcelona and Malaga, committing to Fenerbahce Ulker and how he ended up in Milano.
Nearly three months ago, after capitalizing an outstanding Adriatic League title and Final Four Most Valuable Player honors, Maccabi Tel Aviv executives reached out to Nick Lotsos, Keith Langford's Greek-American agent. "We want Keith to play for Maccabi for the next two season."
Langford, a former NCAA noteworthy Jayhawk and until recent -- most abhorrent guard in Europe -- looked to keep hooping in Israel.
The two sides' agreement stated Langford would earn an estimated $1.1 million next season. Problem was, due to Langford's triple title season (Adriatic League champion, Israeli League champion and Israeli League Cup holder), his outstanding Euroleague run, and the fact that his market value was increasing quickly, Langford preferred to test free agent waters and declined Maccabi's two year, $2 million proposal.
According to Tel Aviv's first bid, the 28-year-old Langford would earn $800,000 next season and $1.2 million during the 2013-14 season.
Firstly, when joining Maccabi in October 2011, Langford's stint in Israel looked far from promising. After overcoming a torn MCL in his right knee, Langford played spotty backup minutes so that Jordan Farmar, Theodoros Papaloukas and Euroleague rookie Yogev Ohayon could get a breather. Maccabi fans felt cheated by Langford's poor performances.
Yet with the NBA lockout ending, Farmar returned to the United States and Langford found his rhythm, blossoming into one of the most dominant guards throughout Europe, en route to leading Tel Aviv to the Elite 8 Euroleague playoffs series versus Greek giant Panathinaikos.
Despite the Greeks clinching a 3-2 series victory, the left-handed Langford topped his regular Euroleague season numbers with 13.4 points, 2.4 boards and 2.4 dimes per game while toying with elite European defenders in Dimitris Diamantidis, Nick Calathes and Romain Sato.
The versatile explosive guard recorded Euroleague season averages of 11 points, 2.6 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game and would raise his scoring and rebounding figures in the Israeli competition to season highs of 14.2 points and 4 boards per contest.
While other European teams took firm interest in Langford, Lotsos told Maccabi to upped their bidding. After a number of team management meetings, Tel Aviv owner Danny Federman and Chairman Shimon Mizrahi decided to raise their offer by an extra $100,000. After consulting Lotsos, Langford turned it down.
However, the European market was moving slow and Langford's "problematic" history with Russian organization Khimki Moscow began to haunt him. "Teams were asking for a detailed desc ription about Keith's situation in Moscow. They wanted to know what happened, and his (harmful) history started catching up," said one source close to the player. In addition, "Teams looked for details on Keith's interaction on and off the court in Tel Aviv," said another source.
In March 2011, Langford signed a two year contract extension with Khimki, worth a guaranteed $4.5 million, only to have it vetoed during September that year. The former Russian League All-Star dealt not only with several season injuries, but with animosity from Khimki as well.
"People were curios to know what happened in Russia," Langford told Sportando from his home in Austin, Texas. "Every team asked about my history with Khimki, including a few NBA teams. It didnt have an effect in the long run, but it intimidated some people. They became more cautious," he said.
Undisclosed NBA teams that had Langford on their recruiting radar asked for a background desc ription on his European history. Langford's NBA interest included several NBA Summer League invites and two partial guaranteed offers from two Eastern Conference Playoffs organizations. One of them causing Langford, a two time Big 12 Conference regular season champion, to seriously consider. "He was really thinking of accepting one of the NBA offers, but at this point in his career he decided to keep climbing the European ladder," said the first source.
That said, Langford's Euroleague interest began to heat up after a phone call conversation between (then) Los Angeles Lakers' Consultant Ettore Messina and Lotsos. "Langford is a name that really interest me. Let's open negotiations after I officially sign with CSKA Moscow," said Messina.
Later on, Langford understood that Messina and CSKA were building around Serbian point guard Milos Teodosic (also Lotsos' client). Knowing Teodosic's style of play and amount of ball handling he requires, Lotsos thought it be best if Langford found his own niche.
After netting 17 points in the Israeli Semi-finals victory over Hapoel Holon on May 22nd, Langford was the last player to leave Nokia Arena. Around 00:20am, some 80 minutes after the final buzzer sounded, Langford was showered with love by dozens of young Maccabi supporters while heading to his Nissan Qashqai vehicle.
The multitalented scorer appreciated the yellow-and-blue support and paid the same respect to David Blatt throughout the summer. "Blatt and I spoke a number of times this summer," said Langford. "He's dealt with situations like these before and he was real relaxed. After finalizing things with Milano, I texted him and thanked him for everything he's helped me with this past season. He wished me the best of luck," Langford commented.
During the first weeks of June, Spanish Barcelona Regal was looking to make a move for the nifty combo guard and had scheduled a post season meeting in Spain with Lotsos. However, later that month, Langford was required to inform Maccabi on whether or not he would extend his contract. With time running out and Barcelona unwilling to make a decision, Langford moved on.
Then, Lotsos received notice from a Spanish area code. Unicaja Malaga representatives were on the other line asking, "What would it take for Keith to wear green next season?"
The mid-level Euroleague team would fail to land Langford and after negotiating with most of the Turkish Euroleague teams, in addition to Italian Armani Milano, Langford verbally committed to Fenerbahce Ulker last week.
Here comes the turning point.
Langford's people called Milano's General Manager Gianluca Pascucci and had thanked him for their offer, adding that they were going in a different direction. The thought of reuniting head coach Sergio Scariolo and Langford wasn't one the Italians were willing the pass out on. According to team sources, "Milano offered Langford almost $500,000 more than their final proposal."
"We believed Keith was going to end up in Turkey," sources with information of the player's deal said. "His decision came down to one of those two teams being the best fit, and he was going to go to Turkey. Fenerbahce made it a difficult choice but it was a last second mind changing decision and Milano made the deal much sweeter," added the source.
After signing his multi-year, $3.2 million contract, Langford had coach Scariolo's cellular number locked into his phone and reached out to the Italian. "I didnt talk to coach Scariolo until after I signed the paperwork on Saturday. I called him and said 'let's get going," he said.
Along with newly acquired Richard Hendrix, Langford hopes "Malik (Hairston) stays," and "Builds a team that is ready to compete for the Euroleague final four."
Langford will arrive in Milan, Italy, sometime within the next week for physical evaluations.
The Magic adds Galloway to their roster, ex Omegna - 1 day ago
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Orlando Magic added to their roster 25-year old shooting guard Ramon Galloway (190-82kg-91, college: La Salle). He played last season at Fulgor Omegna in Italian Serie A2. In 10 games he had 14.9ppg, 5.2rpg, 3.1apg and 1.4spg. Galloway also played that season for Openjobmetis VA (Serie A) in Italy where in 10 games he recorded 9.3ppg, 3.6rpg, 2.4apg and 1.6spg. He also played 6 games in FIBA Europe Cup where he averaged 10.5ppg, 3.3rpg and 3.8apg. Galloway has never been drafted by the NB... [read more]
Orlando Magic added to their roster 25-year old shooting guard Ramon Galloway (190-82kg-91, college: La Salle). He played last season at Fulgor Omegna in Italian Serie A2. In 10 games he had 14.9ppg, 5.2rpg, 3.1apg and 1.4spg. Galloway also played that season for Openjobmetis VA (Serie A) in Italy where in 10 games he recorded 9.3ppg, 3.6rpg, 2.4apg and 1.6spg. He also played 6 games in FIBA Europe Cup where he averaged 10.5ppg, 3.3rpg and 3.8apg. Galloway has never been drafted by the NBA. He was voted NABC Division I All-District 4 1st Team back in 2013 at his college time. Galloway is quite experienced player. He has played also professionally in Bosnia (Igokea), Germany (Deutsche Bank Skyliners) and NBA (Chicago Bulls). Galloway attended La Salle University until 2013 and it will be his fourth season as a professional player. On Galloway:
Ramon gives us talent, athleticism and emotional effort that elevates our team. He is outstanding as a defender and scorer. His area of improvement should come in decision-making and a better assist to turnover ratio.
EuroLeague: Emporio Armani snatch win in Istanbul - 2 days ago
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Darussafaka - Emporio Armani 80:81 Emporio Armani claimed the second straight victory in EuroLeague season. They upset Darussafaka in Istanbul to stay perfect. Milan Macvan (206-PF-89) posted 19 points and 6 rebounds for the winners. Emporio Armani eked out a 24:23 lead after the opening frame. The Italian side boosted the lead in the second term. Emporio Armani piled up a 46:41 halftime lead. Darussafaka stiffened defensively in the third term. The Turkish team pulled as close as 2 poi... [read more]
Darussafaka - Emporio Armani 80:81
Emporio Armani claimed the second straight victory in EuroLeague season. They upset Darussafaka in Istanbul to stay perfect. Milan Macvan (206-PF-89) posted 19 points and 6 rebounds for the winners. Emporio Armani eked out a 24:23 lead after the opening frame. The Italian side boosted the lead in the second term. Emporio Armani piled up a 46:41 halftime lead. Darussafaka stiffened defensively in the third term. The Turkish team pulled as close as 2 points at the final intermission 58:60. The teams stayed neck and neck throughout the fourth term. But late free throws from Krunoslav Simon sealed the win for the visitors. Jamel McLean (203-F-88, college: Xavier, agency: BeoBasket) and Mantas Kalnietis (195-PG-86, agency: Players Group) finished with 11 points each in the victory. Adrien Moerman (202-PF-88) answered with 20 points for Darussafaka. Brad Wanamaker (193-G-89, college: Pittsburgh) had 16 points in the loss.
I met Robert 'Bobby' Jones (201-F-84, college: Washington) of UCC Assigeco Piacenza and talked with him about the moment of the team after the first three games of this Serie A2 season. After two defeats, you snatch a great win against a strong opponent like Verona. What has changed in the team? We played more aggressive on offense and on defense, we played togheter and with a lot of energy for the all game. The first two games we have foul trouble, we were too distracted by the referees... [read more]
I met Robert 'Bobby' Jones (201-F-84, college: Washington) of UCC Assigeco Piacenza and talked with him about the moment of the team after the first three games of this Serie A2 season. After two defeats, you snatch a great win against a strong opponent like Verona. What has changed in the team? We played more aggressive on offense and on defense, we played togheter and with a lot of energy for the all game. The first two games we have foul trouble, we were too distracted by the referees but after loosing two games in a row we came out to play hard and just take care of ourselves and we got the win.
You play a good game too (17 points and 12 rebounds). A good step forward compared to the first two games of the season in which you struggled to find the rythm. In percentage, how much are you feeling in shape in this moment? In percentage I'm probably about 85-90%. In the first game, for sure, the rythm wasn't the best but it was the first game of the season so I was still understanding my teammates, their strenghts and their weaknesses as players and they try to learn me still. It was our first real game on the road, against a good team like Virtus Bologna and I can't found my rythm. In the second game I had a good first quarter but then I've got foul trouble and when I came back in the rythm was gone again and it was hard for me to get the rythm back but in the third game I came out more aggressive, I came to push the ball, I came to do many things to get my rythm starting faster and I was able to play a good game and my teammates we're able to play off with my energy also. How are your relationships with your teammates and with whom you have the best one? I think all my teammates so far so good. I knew I couple of guys already for playing against them. I like everybody in the team but the closest two are probably Luca Infante (204-F/C-82) and Kenny Hasbrouck (191-G-86, college: Siena). Kenny lives right under me so after the games sometimes I go down there with him and his wife and we play cards or watch tv, football games...and with Luca especially in team events he talk to me more because he is the oldest guy. So probably those two.
What are, in your opinion, the team strenghts and weaknesses? I think our strenght is that we have a lot of guys who can attack the rim, who can shoot. Weakness: so far we had a lot of injuries. we miss 2/3 players already. So for the chemistry to have so many injuries in the beginning of the season is hard for a team. Sometimes we don't play on defense so teams are able to score easy. Boxing out, the first two games we did a really bad job boxing out. We did a better job in the third game so I don't know if there is a weakness or not. We like to share the ball each other, maybe too much, wich can be a weakness. But I think we can share the ball, I think we trust each other on offense. It's just a matter of shooting the right shoot at the right time.
In the next game against Recanati you will play against your former coach at Virtus Roma, Marco Calvani (agency: SPORTlab Agency ), in one of your best season in Italy (Scudetto Finals 2012-2013). How was your relationship with him? My realtion with Marco was up and down. We had a really good season, obviously, we make the Finals. He's a player-coach: he listen, he give suggestions, is not the type of coach who is one way, he takes solutions from the players and he cooperate to the teams situation. A very nice guy, he likes to laugh, he tells jokes, he believes in difense which is one of my main strenght as a player so I like him for his defense principles. I don't see him in a couple of year so it will be good to see him.
You played several years in Serie A. What are the main differences that you found in this Serie A2? In A2 sometimes I have to force more shoots by myself, in A1 we had more americans where we use to share responsabilities. In the first game I was use to that mentality where I was expecting my teammates to help me to get easy shoots but I had to be more aggressive and make the shoots for myself. In Serie A2 we have only two americans so we have to be more aggressive for each other and for the team.
Watching you playing, it seems that you prefer playing with the face to the basket and behind the three points line than near the basket, in the low post. Do you agree with me? What do you think about that? Yes, playing post-up to the basket is more difficult because a lot of guys they foul and the referees don't always call the foul but if I turn around and face, there is more space and the reefs can see more. In the first two games I think, I'm focused too much trying to post up and he take energy from me, I get push, I get frustrated but the third game I make sure to be more attacking the rim facing so I can take good decisions, I can see the court and make my game better. So I have to find a good balance.
What was your impression about the fans and the atmosphere in the first game at PalaBanca? The first game was good, we had a good energy from the fans. I'm disappointed that we lost our first game there but we have many more games in this season and I feel like the fans are gonna be with us, we need them, we need their energy, especially in certain situations. It's a nice gym, it's a nice big gym. Where do you see Assigeco Piacenza at the end of the season? For sure, I think, we can make the playoffs. What number I don't know but for sure we can make it to the playoffs and from there we can make new goals and see what the matchup for the playoffs are.
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