Danny Green heads to Slovenia, has return ticket in mind


The possibility was in play before and now it’s come to fruition; Danny Green is headed to Slovenia, likely for the rest of 2011. Because that’s probably how long the lockout will last. Green is joining Union Olimpija, where he’ll play for the Slovenian champs and compete in the Euroleague.

Green and others have pointed out that he’ll be playing with college teammate Deon Thompson, but I’m more interested in Green playing alongside San Antonio’s 2011 draft pick Davis Bertans. Green joining Bertans on Olimpija immediately makes them Spurs fans’ Euroleague team of choice this fall.

For Green, the negatives are few and far between.

He announced on Twitter that he would be back in the States when the lockout is over, assuming the Spurs want him back. I’m curious if the Spurs arranged this deal with Olimpija to get Danny Green some reps during the lockout.

The franchise already has an open dialogue with Olimpija thanks to the Bertans pick. RC Buford could have easily called up Olimpija’s front office and asked for a favor. The folks at Olimpija then call up Green’s reps and get a deal done. RC and the Spurs make no contact with Green’s people, so they don’t risk a $1 million fine; maybe Union Olimpija comes to San Antonio next fall for a preseason game as a thanks.

The fact that Green can come back home when the lockout is over it the key thing. NBA players currently under contract are required by FIBA to return to the States when the lockout is over. Most European teams have stated that they don’t want to sign American players if they’re going to be leaving when the NBA finally gets going again. The only real exceptions are the big name NBA stars who are going to draw crowds and attract worldwide interest. Danny Green will do none of that for Olimpija.

Is that legal? I think so. I don’t think there’s any rules against communicating with other professional franchises, assuming that no direct contact has been made with the player and his people. If it is in fact illegal forget that I said any of it.

Assuming Green stays healthy, he gets competitive playing time in a solid league. Running sprints in the summer with Tim Duncan and James Anderson can only do so much for his development. Instead, he goes to Slovenia where he could probably play 20 minutes a game in a competitive league. And no one ever said expanding your horizons and experiencing a foreign country was a bad thing.

Considering Green appeared in just eight games last season, the move to Slovenia gives the Spurs more time to evaluate Green and his talents in a competitive setting; after all, there was no summer league. As long as they’re not making contact with Green, the Spurs can have front office scouts deciding whether or not they want to keep his unguaranteed contract for next season. Green plays no national team ball, didn’t play much last season and won’t play a lot in the upcoming one, so any concerns of fatigue are minuscule. This is really a win-win for Danny Green and the Spurs.