Buyout price likely to keep Splitter out of NBA Draft
Posted: Monday June 6, 2005 5:42PM; Updated: Tuesday June 7, 2005 1:00AM
Despite his lanky frame, Martynas Andriuskevicius' stock is bound to rise should prospect Tiago Splitter drop out of the draft.
Fabio Bozzani/NBAE via Getty Images
CHICAGO -- Top draft prospect Martynas Andriuskevicius won't be playing at this year's annual NBA Pre-Draft camp which begins here Tuesday, but that doesn't mean he won't be showcasing his skills for the pro scouts.
Andriuskevicius, the 7-foot-3 Lithuanian considered a possible top 10 pick in the June 28 draft, will hold a private workout Thursday in Chicago for NBA clubs, according to his agent Herb Rudoy. There has been speculation that Andriuskevicius, whose stock appeared to be slipping over concerns about his thin frame, might withdraw his name from the draft. But Rudoy said that's not the case.
"We'll see what happens, but the plan right now is to keep him in the draft," Rudoy said. "We compare him to Zydrunas Ilgauskas at the same stage of his career. Ilgauskas weighed 215 pounds [when he was 19]. This kid is 235 and growing. He's getting bigger. He's got the right kind of frame. We think he'll be a top 10 pick."
While Andriuskevicius appears a safe bet to stay in the draft, fellow Rudoy client Tiago Splitter appears to be leaning the other way. Rudoy said a difficult buyout clause in Splitter's contract with his current pro team in Spain probably would cause the 6-11 power forward to withdraw his name from the June 28 draft. Splitter is regarded as one of the top power forward prospects in the field. The Knicks (No. 8), Warriors (No. 9) and Lakers (No. 10) were among the teams expected to take a serious look.
"We have a big problem [with the buyout]," Rudoy said. "We're working on it, but very likely he's not going to get out."
For Splitter it would mark the second year in row he pulled out of the NBA field at the last minute. The 20-year-old Brazilian is signed with his current club, Tau Ceramica, through 2008. Since NBA teams can only pay up to $350,000 toward a buyout, he would be forced to make up the difference. Right now the figure is too high, according to Rudoy.
"The good news is he's really becoming a terrific player," Rudoy said. "The bad news is he's really becoming a terrific player. They don't want to lose him.
"But either way it's going to work out. He just turned 20. He's only going to get better. We kept Manu Ginobili over there until he was 25, and when he came in he was prepared for the NBA. We can do the same thing here."
As for Andriuskevicius, it's hard to say where he will end up. The lanky pivotman barely got off the bench for his team in the Euroleague this past season, and the recent failures of Darko Milicic and Nikoloz Tskitishvili seemed to have cooled some NBA scouts on the idea of using high lottery picks on such undeveloped teen-aged foreign talents. But teams as high as the Blazers (No. 3) are said to be intrigued by his potential. In fact, Andriuskevicius hails from the same town in Lithuania as former Blazers center Arvydas Sabonis. While going to Portland at No. 3 might be a stretch, Andriuskevicius could possibly find himself in the 7-15 range where Splitter was expected to land.
A lot of it will come down to Andriuskevicius' workout on Thursday. Like many of the top 20 or so prospects in this year's draft field, Andriuskevicius won't be participating in the actual competitions at the Chicago pre-draft camp. His private workout then will be his one final chance to show his skills for the NBA scouts.
Rudoy says his client will not work out individually for any other teams after Thursday's event. "This is it," Rudoy said. "He'll meet with the teams there, and then he'll go back and play for his [national team]."
The Pre-Draft camp brings together around 65 of the top college players (other than those who are all but assured of going in the first round) to be weighed, measured and put through the paces over four days of drills and scrimmages. It is the last opportunity for NBA decision-makers to watch players in game-like environments before the draft. Among the players expected to play in Chicago this year are Illinois' Dee Brown, Florida's David Lee, North Carolina's Jawad Williams and Arizona's Salim Stoudamire.