January means some important things for European basketball.
Teams start to hit their stride. The top teams become dominant. The bottom teams prove they’re better than everyone else–at losing.
For now, we’re gonna concentrate on what January means for a player’s chance to getting signed with a team.
There comes a time in every season when the league doesn’t allow teams to sign any more players. The time is now approaching as most countries will soon be closed to new signings.
If you haven’t gotten signed yet, or if you’re thinking about switching teams, you’re time is running out.
But don’t give up hope just yet. First, understand your situation, and then consider the situation of teams that could potentially sign you. In this case, you must match exactly to what the team is looking for in order for you to have any chance.
Here’s who will get signed and why.
Team Situation: Safe, Cutting Bait, Rebuilding
Player Signed: Rookie, Young Player with Stuff to Prove, or No Player
Some teams set their standards very low to start the year. They just want to remain in their particular category, and thats it.
If the team started out hot, and recently cooled off, then they may have already met their season objective, and are no longer in danger of going down to the lower division.
For these teams, now is the time to cut bait, and start rebuilding for next season.
These teams may turn to a rookie or young player. It’s normally a player that they were interested in to start the season. Sometimes it’s a player they’ve played against but is being released by their current team. For whatever reason, the team feels they have nothing to lose, so why not give a shot to the new player.
These teams may also choose to release their highest paid players and then not sign anyone. They may wish to save the money for next seasons so they can go all in on a more dominant player.
Tip for free agents: Take a look around the European leagues that fit your playing level. Search for the teams that are in the middle of the pack. These teams are in 9th or 10th place, which basically means, It’s not looking good for making the playoffs. These are the teams that will highly consider a change if the timing and player are right.
Team Situation: Save our Ship
Player Signed: Veteran
This situation is not for the fein at heart. It’s one that requires ice in the veins and super thick skin.
Here’s the deal.
The team is in danger of finishing the season as the last place team in the league, causing them to drop to play in the lower division the next season. Depending on the team history, this could be happening for the first time in many years.
Panic stricken would be a good way to describe the entire organization. The panic button was pushed a long time ago. Actually, that button has already been pushed so many times its getting stuck like the button on your PS3 control stick.
This team needs help. Not just any help. They need a savior. That’s why they turn to a veteran. This player has been there before, and understands that the more calm and cool he is, the better the chance for the organization to turn things around.
Normally this team has just had a string of really bad luck with injuries, or has been losing games in the last minute of games. They’re usually not as bad as their record suggests, they just need to learn ‘how’ to win. There are normally so fundamental flaws, in focus. More specifically, these teams just need to commit themselves to what really wins games – Defense and Team Work.
A turnaround doesn’t always happen right away. But with the proper leadership, it will happen.
I used to love this situation. It’s the ultimate test of leadership, basketball skills, and personal character. I can honestly say I never failed in this role. It was never easy, and there were many times that I was ready to ‘walk the plank’ or be pushed overboard. But in the end, the ship was always salvaged.
Team Situation: Playoff push
Player Signed: Veteran, high profile rookie, proven player & switching teams
These teams have high expectations, and cash to burn. They’re not satisfied with one or more players in key positions of their lineup. They’re ready to make a change in hopes that a new player comes in and gives their team the boost they need to win the championship.
They often turn to a proven veteran, or a high profile young player. The player could be unsigned or they could have been bought out their contract.
A lot of organizations go after a big name that their fan base will recognize. You would think it would be someone that has won in the past, but normally it’s a high profile, highly talented player with rock solid numbers.
It rarely works.
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