Last last night, International Basketball Woj David Pick reported that the Kings are trying to 'lure' Nick Calathes out of his star role in Athens and more specifically, Panathinaikos, the same team that new Kings rookie Georgios Papagiannis played for last year.
Source: Sacramento Kings are trying to lure Nick Calathes out of his star-role in Athens.— David Pick (@IAmDPick) July 26, 2016
'Lure' being the optimal word there, as Calathes signed a three-year deal with Panathinaikos in 2015, which only complicates the Kings' quest to get him over here. Without knowing the exact details of Calathes’ contract, it’s unknown how difficult or costly this would be to the Kings, Calathes, or Panathinaikos. With that being said, if the Kings are at the point in this process where information is starting to leak out, you’d assume that is pretty strong confirmation that it can be done.
Calathes was a fairly consistent member of Dave Joerger’s rotation in Memphis during his two year run with the Grizzlies, playing more of a backup combo guard role opposed to the backup point guard role he’d be expected to play in Sacramento. Standing at 6-6, he certainly has the size to play either guard, and that versatility will only add to his value if the Kings do manage to sign him.
Nick has nearly every International basketball accolade he’s been in the running for. Eurocup MVP, Eurocup champion, Euroleague champion, he’s been on the Greek national team since 2009, and he even won what amounts to Defensive Player of the Year in Greece. All of that is to say this, he’s one of the better players in Europe, and he can play in the NBA.
As an NBA point guard, I’m fairly confident that Calathes can defend, handle, and pass at the level needed to be an effective rotation player for the Kings next season. If I’m worried about anything, it’s his ability to score and contribute offensively without the ball. He’s a streaky three-point shooter at best, well below acceptable for a guard at worst, and with how much of the offensive load NBA point guards are responsible for in 2016, that would be my worry. Can he score enough from a lead-guard position to carry an already offensively-weak bench unit? I don’t know.
Everything above aside, I do like Calathes. He’s been such a good player in Europe since he left the NBA that he’s earned another look over here. The Kings need guards, at 27, Calathes could conceivably be the exact guard they need next season and beyond. Despite the hint of unknown, considering we never really know how overseas success will translate, I’m quite on board with this signing, if it happens.