GimmeDat wrote:Man, still no Okeke updates?
Fwiw, the NBL are saying 'there's still a few iron's in the fire' regarding their Next Star program. I'm not discarding all my hope that it could be a possibility, lol.
What is the 'Next Star' program?
It's an initiative the league here set up to attract young talent. LaMelo Ball and RJ Hampton (as well as Terry Armstrong) are playing here through it, as well as Didi Louzada (2nd round pick+stash by the Pelicans). Short answer of what it involves is basically the league paying the salary (instead of the team) for top NBA prospects (whether opting to play here instead of college or as a draft+stash situation) for them to play here. Obviously in return the NBL feels like they're getting invaluable overseas exposure as well as additional local interest.
Okeke could presumably be stashed on a team here for a year, rehab and once healthy play, then join you guys next season. I would've felt that was a bit of a far fetched possibility, but after I saw he wasn't signed after so long, and after Didi, who actually had a great SL and looks like he'll be an NBA contributor, got placed out here, I put it out there as a possibility on Twitter, and Chuma's brother liked the tweet, so I got my hopes up, haha. It's hard to figure out what other possible 'Next Stars' they could be alluding to, because most guys are signed or committed to college.
It's probably a long-shot still, but an option that I think is at least feasible given how unusual this contractual situation has been. I don't know the ins and outs of it, but I would presume that would save Okeke from impacting a roster spot/cap this year, they could get an extra year of rookie scale compared to signing him now, and Okeke could get paid handsomely for a year that will just be rehab for a decent chunk of the season. From the Magic's side, I would imagine they'd rather have him close by and with their G-League affiliate where they can keep closer tabs on his progress and development once healthy, though.
NBL rosters are pretty much set but iirc the 'Next Star' acquisitions don't count against the roster limit. Looking at team rosters, I think he'd be handy on the Adelaide 36ers or Cairns Taipans. Adelaide have a set roster/rotation but have mediocre backup SF/PF's who Okeke could easily take minutes from. The Taipans have some nice top end talent but the weakest bench in the league and he'd be a great boost for them.