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.
Bawer Olimpia Matera (Serie B) signed 20-year old guard Gabriele Pacifico (185-97). He started the season at the junior team of Enel Brindisi (Serie A). Pacifico has played there for the last four years. Serie A was a little too high level for him, where in only one Serie A game he did not score anything. Serie B will be definitely a better match and he can see more playing time. The last season Pacifico was tested by Enel Brindisi (also in Serie A). By Eurobasket Data Center (via @baske... [read more]
Bawer Olimpia Matera (Serie B) signed 20-year old guard Gabriele Pacifico (185-97). He started the season at the junior team of Enel Brindisi (Serie A). Pacifico has played there for the last four years. Serie A was a little too high level for him, where in only one Serie A game he did not score anything. Serie B will be definitely a better match and he can see more playing time. The last season Pacifico was tested by Enel Brindisi (also in Serie A).
Afyon tabs Johndre Jefferson, ex Dolomiti En. TR - 1 day ago
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Afyonkarahisar Belediye (TBL) inked 29-year old American power forward Johndre Jefferson (207-102kg-88, college: S.Carolina, agency: Three Eye Sports). He played recently at Dolomiti Energia Trento in Italian Serie A, but left the team last month. In 11 games he averaged 10.5ppg and 7.2rpg this season. The last season Jefferson played at Konyaspor (BSL) where in 26 games he had 10.2ppg, 6.2rpg and 1.5apg. Among other achievements his team made it to the Slovakian League Semifinals in 2012. [read more]
Afyonkarahisar Belediye (TBL) inked 29-year old American power forward Johndre Jefferson (207-102kg-88, college: S.Carolina, agency: Three Eye Sports). He played recently at Dolomiti Energia Trento in Italian Serie A, but left the team last month. In 11 games he averaged 10.5ppg and 7.2rpg this season. The last season Jefferson played at Konyaspor (BSL) where in 26 games he had 10.2ppg, 6.2rpg and 1.5apg. Among other achievements his team made it to the Slovakian League Semifinals in 2012. Jefferson received also Eurobasket.com All-Italian LNP Silver Player of the Year award back in 2014. He is a very experienced player. Jefferson has played also professionally in Israel (Maccabi Kiryat Gat and Elitzur Ramla), Slovakia (Iskra Svit), APBL (Beltway Bombers) and IBL (Salem S.). He attended University of South Carolina until 2011 and it is his sixth season in pro basketball. Jefferson's game is described as:
An athletic center who runs the court very well and has great timing to grab rebounds and bock the opponent' shots inside.
Banco di Sardegna Sassari (Serie A) signed 29-year old American swingman David Lighty (195-98kg-88, college: Ohio State) from Dolomiti Energia Trento. In 15 Serie A games in Italy he had 13.1ppg, 2.4rpg, 2.4apg and 1.5spg this season. The last season Lighty played at ASVEL Lyon Villeurbanne Basket in French ProA where in 45 games he recorded 8.7ppg, 2.3rpg and 2.3apg. He helped them to win the league title (twice) and they also made it to the Cup final (twice). Lighty also played 14 games... [read more]
Banco di Sardegna Sassari (Serie A) signed 29-year old American swingman David Lighty (195-98kg-88, college: Ohio State) from Dolomiti Energia Trento. In 15 Serie A games in Italy he had 13.1ppg, 2.4rpg, 2.4apg and 1.5spg this season. The last season Lighty played at ASVEL Lyon Villeurbanne Basket in French ProA where in 45 games he recorded 8.7ppg, 2.3rpg and 2.3apg. He helped them to win the league title (twice) and they also made it to the Cup final (twice). Lighty also played 14 games in FIBA Europe Cup where he averaged 9.6ppg, 2.4rpg, 2.8apg and 1.3spg. He has tried to make it to the NBA and played in the NBA Pro Summer League in 2016. Lighty was selected to French ProA All-Star Game back in 2014. He has played previously professionally in Italy (AV Cantu and Vanoli Cremona) and France (JSF Nanterre). Lighty attended Ohio State until 2011 and it is his sixth season as a professional player. He could be described:
A very versatile player, who plays with intenstity and athleticism at both ends of the court. Defends very well on the perimeter.
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