FanShot

Breaking: Joel Freeland to Unicaja Malaga for 5 years

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His old team Kalise Gran Canaria decided in a board meeting today to not use the right of first refusal to retain Joel Freeland who will go to Unicaja Malaga now and sign a contract for €4.5 million over the next 5 years. It is a process that is similar to matching offers for restricted free agents in the NBA, but with some differences. Gran Canaria had 10 days to decide if they wanted to retain Freeland for €600k for 1 more year, after which he would have become an unrestricted free agent. Or to match the offer by Malaga and keep Joel for the same contract conditions (which was impossible for them given that they are a team with a much smaller budget). Now Gran Canaria receives €200k in compensation from Malaga and will have to look for a new PF/C. They also lost their main sponsor Kalise today who will not renew contracts. Tough day for them. And hard to say if that is good for the Blazers or bad. He develops on another team's time and dime, but it might be a long time before they can get him into a Blazers uniform (he is 22 now, so think Luis Scola coming over to the NBA if he would play out the whole contract). If at all. This will depend on how potential buyouts for Joel are structured (no information yet). And could even be influenced by how the next collective bargaining agreement will look like. In the current version is a loophole that would allow a team to go over the rookie scale to sign a player who didn't sign his rookie contract for three full seasons following the draft, using cap space in excess of the scale amount. This would have been possible now for the Blazers with Joel (see comments, and more on a similar case for Spurs pick Tiago Splitter for 2010 here). Reportedly there were talks but he preferred Malaga's long-term offer - and the chance for a lot of playing time. It's hard to predict how a future version of the CBA might regulate international draft picks, who as also seen with Rudy sometimes would have to take pay cuts to sign late 1st round rookie scale contracts if they are already well-paid stars in another league. However the NBA could fear opening new loopholes for US college players if they make a change. So the Blazers could lose their promising 2006 #30 draft pick for good, and little (a trade down the road) to nothing in return. Update: Here is another report on the acquisition in English from the official Euroleague website, going into some detail on what Joel achieved while playing for Gran Canaria.

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