In the awkwardly unnecessary 3rd/4th place game previous to the final, Barcelona managed to easily knock off a very jaded Olympiacos squad, in large part due to another terrific outing by Australian big man David Andersen, with 20 points in 26 minutes, on 8-12 shooting (3/5 3P). Although this wasn't the most competitive setting you'll find, Andersen still did a nice job showcasing his excellent skill-level, primarily in the form of his jump-shot, knocking down an array of spot-up, pull-up, turnaround and pick and pop jumpers, in the post, from 18-20 feet, and all the way out beyond the 3-point line.
After the game, we managed to catch up with Andersen in the VIP area, which gave us an opportunity to pick his brain on where he stands in terms of the NBA.
Andersen didnt hesitate to indicate his interest in playing for the Atlanta Hawks, or any other team that might be interested in his services. He did seem a bit frustrated by the predicament hes in, thought, with his NBA rights essentially being held hostage by the Atlanta Hawks.
I just wish they would give me a straight answer either way. Every year its the same thing. If they want me, great, but if not, I would like to go play somewhere else. I cant force the tender and go play on a non-guaranteed minimum contract, but I dont think Im asking for crazy money either.
Andersen has another year on his deal with Barcelona, but has a clear NBA escape clause in his contract that that he can exercise until July 15th. That is a difficult situation for Barcelona, as they will be in serious limbo until that pointessentially the very tail end of the signing period for elite European clubs, where there will likely be few if any big men of Andersens caliber on the market. Barcelona has an option to buy out Andersens contract, and may be forced to do so if they feel like they cannot wait on the NBA to act.
Whats most unfortunate for Andersen is that he had already received assurances from former Hawks GM Billy Knight that they would bring him over to the NBA last summer, but that plan went to naught once he was fired and replaced by Rick Sund, who said he needed another year to evaluate him. The Hawks have apparently had multiple teams try to acquire Andersen in a trade, but have been reluctant to deal him for fear that he may make them look foolish in another teams uniform. Based on the way Andersen has looked here in Berlin, thats a legitimate possibility.
This situation really goes a long ways in emphasizing the challenges that players in Europe often face when being drafted by NBA teams in the second round, as they are essentially able to hold their rights perpetually without any recourse on the part of the players. This may be something that the NBA Players Association may want to look at in the upcoming Collective Bargaining Agreement, as it would probably be much more fair to put a three year limit in which teams can either sign their draft pick or be forced to relinquish their rights. Unfortunately the players that make up the union will likely have very little sympathy for the cause of European draftees who are essentially competing for their jobs.