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Former Blazers G Nolan Smith Signs With Croatia's Cedevita Zagreb

Former Portland Trail Blazers guard Nolan Smith has signed with Cedevita Zagreb of Croatia.


Croatian basketball club Cedevita Zagreb announced the signing of former Portland Trail Blazers guard Nolan Smith on Sunday.

Here's the Google translated release...

From the United States arrived signed contract Nolan Smith, who is coming to Zagreb for a week, and will be, after a medical examination to join Cedevita. It is a brilliant, educated playmaker who should be a big boost Cedevita in the new season.

More from Daniel Carp of the Duke Chronicle...

Former Blue Devil Nolan Smith will go across the pond and play for Cedevita Zagreb of the Adriatic League for the 2013-14 season. Smith signed a one-year contract with the club, which was released Sunday morning.

Zagreb finished sixth in the Adriatic League last season, posting a 15-11 record, and placed sixth in Group C of the Euroleague, going 2-8.

Chris Haynes of reports Smith's reaction on Twitter...

"I want to play basketball and I'm excited about this opportunity to go get back to just hooping, having fun playing the game I love. Can't wait to get to Zagreb. The NBA will be here. I'm healthy, feeling great."

Smith, 25, averaged 2.8 points, 0.9 assists and 0.7 rebounds in 7.2 minutes per game in 40 appearances this season. He posted a PER of 7.1. The Blazers opted not to pick up his third-year rookie option last fall and GM Neil Olshey told reporters in April that Smith needed a "change of scenery."

During his exit interview with media members, Smith made it clear that he didn't expect to be back.

Future with Blazers: "I think it's pretty obvious that I'm a free agent. They made that pretty clear. ... I think we can say that [I won't be back here next year] but I can't see the future. I don't know what they're thinking. We'll see what happens. ... They have a path that they want to go down and it's pretty obvious I'm not on it right now."

Desired situation: "Just playing. A playing situation. In this league, I've had a chance to watch a lot of games. Playing time makes a big difference, three minutes or 20 minutes, it's a big difference."

Olshey echoed that.

Neil Olshey: I think Nolan needs a new environment. Nolan is an NBA player but bringing Eric Maynor in, the moniker of being a first-round pick was tough for Nolan to overcome. He's a great kid, he did everything we asked him to do, he's going to be on an NBA roster next year, but he more than anyone needs a change of scenery, he needs to start fresh.

Smith, selected with the No. 21 pick in the 2011 draft after winning the 2010 NCAA title at Duke and 2011 ACC Player of the Year honors, has had a rough go of it in recent years. He was hospitalized briefly after suffering a concussion during a 2012 Las Vegas Summer League game and he suffered a leg injury while playing for the Boston Celtics during the 2013 Orlando Summer League. Following that injury, he was linked to a possible training camp invite with the rebuilding Celtics.

Here's some background on Cedevita Zagreb.

The club was established in Zagreb in 1991 as KK Botinec, later becoming KK Hiron for sponsorship reasons. From season to season, the club moved up from the lowest levels of competition until it reached the A-1 League in 2002. In its first season of elite competition, it took 5th place in Croatia, behind the well-known clubs KK Cibona, KK Zadar, KK Zagreb and KK Split. A big step was taken in 2005 when Atlantic Grupa, a strong regional company, became the main sponsor of the club, after which the club was renamed to KK Cedevita.

The young and modern board of directors raised the ambitions of the club, which achieved great success first in the 09/10 Season when it finished at 3rd place in the Croatian league (in the semi-final playoffs Zadar-Cedevita 2-1), played the semi-finals of the Croatian Cup along with taking 7th place in the strong regional Adriatic League as newcomer. Super Season, with greatest success in Europe, is 10-11 with 3rd place in Eurocup in very first appearance in the competition of that level. Cedevita played Eurocup Final four after victorious trip near Dynamo Moscow, Aris, Azovmash, Hemofarm Stada, Gran Canaria and Asefa Estiudiantes in Zagreb and Azovmash, Hapoel Galil Gilboa, Unics, Gran Canaria, Estudiantes and Benetton on the road. After regular 1st place in the Croatian league, Cedevita won Cibona in semi-final playoffs but lost The Finals against Zagreb CO. Also, Cedevita again took 7th place in Adriatic league.

But the best Season, with greatest success is the last, 11-12 came with first ever Trophies for the team. After winning of the Cup Drazen Petrović (Croatian Supercup) against Zagreb, Cedevita took Croatian Cup Krešimir Ćosić for the first time in history, again against Zagreb in The Finals. After playing in Europe, beating French Champion Elan Chalon in qualifications, Cedevita finished competition in group, with strong Spartak St. Petersburg, Benetton Treviso and Bayern. But the real success was 2nd place in regular season of Adriatic league and crown came with great Finals in Tel Aviv, victory against Partizan in semi-finals and lose against Maccabi Tel Aviv in the The Finals. With that result, Cedevita had Euroleague place in her pocket.

The club's website lists God Shammgod, Chris Owens, Adam Harrington, A.J. Guyton, Vonteego Cummings and Ramel Bradley among its former American players.

Smith's stepfather, Curtis Malone, was recently arrested for conspiracy to distribute heroin.

Smith once compared himself to Sam Bowie and Greg Oden because he was selected one spot ahead of Denver Nuggets forward Kenneth Faried. He also intentionally stuck his finger into his nose on live television.

PS Thanks to ehmiliano in the FanShots.

-- Ben Golliver | | Twitter