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.
Emporio Armani clinch Macron SuperCoppa title - 10 hours ago
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Emporio Armani - Sidigas Avellino 90:72 Emporio Armani celebrated the first trophy of the season. They topped Sidigas Avellino in Milan to claim the SuperCoppa title. Krunoslav Simon (197-G/F-85) scored 25 points to pace the winners. Emporio Armani built a 23:19 lead ten minutes into the game. The Milan team boosted the lead in the second period. Emporio Armani secured a 44:34 halftime lead. They maintained the lead throughout the third term. Emporio Armani arrived at the final intermis... [read more]
Emporio Armani - Sidigas Avellino 90:72
Emporio Armani celebrated the first trophy of the season. They topped Sidigas Avellino in Milan to claim the SuperCoppa title. Krunoslav Simon (197-G/F-85) scored 25 points to pace the winners. Emporio Armani built a 23:19 lead ten minutes into the game. The Milan team boosted the lead in the second period. Emporio Armani secured a 44:34 halftime lead. They maintained the lead throughout the third term. Emporio Armani arrived at the final intermission up by 16 points 67:51. They did not loosen the grasp in the fourth quarter and rallied to the victory. Richard Hickman (189-G-85, college: NC-Greensboro) delivered 15 points, while Zoran Dragic (196-F/G-89) added 11 points for the winners. Joe Ragland (182-PG-89, college: Wichita St.) responded with 18 points for Sidigas Avellino. Retin Obasohan (185-G-93, college: Alabama) tossed in 12 points in the loss.
Fortitudo Bologna celebrate SuperCoppa LNP title - 18 hours ago
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Fortitudo Bologna - Givova Scafati 72:70 Fortitudo Bologna earned the SuperCoppa LNP title. They defeated Givova Scafati for the trophy. Stefano Mancinelli (204-F-83) was named the MVP. He finished with 16 points for the winners. Bologna eked out a 20:15 lead ten minutes into the game. They stretched the gap at 16-point mark midway through the second term. But Scafati capped the first half on an 11:0 run to narrow the gap. Scafati pulled within a single point at the final intermission 5... [read more]
Fortitudo Bologna - Givova Scafati 72:70
Fortitudo Bologna earned the SuperCoppa LNP title. They defeated Givova Scafati for the trophy. Stefano Mancinelli (204-F-83) was named the MVP. He finished with 16 points for the winners. Bologna eked out a 20:15 lead ten minutes into the game. They stretched the gap at 16-point mark midway through the second term. But Scafati capped the first half on an 11:0 run to narrow the gap. Scafati pulled within a single point at the final intermission 52:53. It all came down to the final seconds in this one. Chris Roberts (193-G-88, college: Bradley) sank a free throw in the dying seconds and Bologna got away with a narrow win. He finished with 19 points, while Justin Knox (205-F-89, college: N.Carolina, agency: Two Points) added 15 points for the winners. Chase Fischer (190-G-93, college: BYU) responded with 23 points for Scafati. Marco Santiangeli (193-G-91) had 12 points in the loss. Fortitudo Bologna: Chris Roberts 19, Stefano Mancinelli 16, Justin Knox 15 Givova Scafati: Chase Fischer 23, Marco Santiangeli 12
Sidigas Avellino and Emporio Armani advance into SuperCoppa Final - 1 day ago
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Sidigas Avellino and Emporio Armani reached the Macron SuperCoppa Final. They earned victories in today's semifinal clashes. Sidigas Avellino relied on a late bucket from Joe Ragland (182-PG-89, college: Wichita St.) to overcome Grisson Bon Reggio Emilia 74:72. Ragland finished with 18 points to lead the winners. Reggio Emilia led by a single point 40:41 at halftime. They extended the margin at 7-point mark at the final intermission 51:58. Sidigas Avellino went on a 23:14 run in the four... [read more]
Sidigas Avellino and Emporio Armani reached the Macron SuperCoppa Final. They earned victories in today's semifinal clashes. Sidigas Avellino relied on a late bucket from Joe Ragland (182-PG-89, college: Wichita St.) to overcome Grisson Bon Reggio Emilia 74:72. Ragland finished with 18 points to lead the winners. Reggio Emilia led by a single point 40:41 at halftime. They extended the margin at 7-point mark at the final intermission 51:58. Sidigas Avellino went on a 23:14 run in the fourth term though to snatch a narrow victory. Levi Randolph (196-G-92, college: Alabama) finished with 16 points for the winners. Achille Polonara (203-F-91) responded with 18 points for Grisson Bon Reggio Emilia. Emporio Armani cruised past Vanoli Cremona 109:87. Krunoslav Simon (197-G/F-85) posted 18 points to lead the effort. Vanoli Cremona accounted for a 52:50 lead at the big break. But Emporio Armani used a 27:9 run in the third term to surge ahead. They unloaded 32 points in the fourth stanza to ice the win. Rakim Sanders (193-G/F-89, college: Fairfield) netted 17 points for the winners. Elston Turner (195-G-90, college: Texas A&M) topscored with 18 points for Vanoli Cremona.
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