More important for Spanish hoops fans is that Sergio Rodriguez was included the deal after a disappointing stint with the Sacramento Kings.
In his first three NBA seasons, Rodriguez played for Team USA assistant Nate McMillan in Portland. Now he’ll suit up for another, with Mike D’Antoni walking the sidelines in New York.
If anyone can appreciate the talents of Rodriguez, it would appear to be D’Antoni. He played in Italy and later coached in the country before returning to the United States several years ago to lead the Phoenix Suns, where his Steve Nash-led teams were among the best in the Western Conference.
Though the 23-year-old Rodriguez is nowhere near as accomplished as Nash, he at least has a chance for a fresh start under a coach that likes to push the ball up the floor at every opportunity.
Rodriguez knows there are no guarantees. He had expected to get a lot of playing time in Sacramento but did not with most of the minutes going to rookie Tyreke Evans and Slovenian Beno Udrih.
The move to New York would appear to be a great opportunity for Rodriguez, though.
Rodriguez played a vital role off the bench for Spain at the 2006 FIBA World Championship in Japan and was also in the squad at EuroBasket 2007. Sergio traded to KnicksHe is hoping to make the squad for this year’s FIBA World Championship in Turkey, although that depends on what he does in New York.
Back on the west coast in the United States, Spain’s basketball icon Pau Gasol has firmly declared that he wants to be with the national squad in the years to come but stopped short of making himself available this summer when Los Chicos de Oro defend their world title.
“I will fight to the maximum in order to try and achieve gold at the next Olympics (in London),” Gasol said to the Spanish media.“I hope I have that opportunity, even though it’s still a long time away. I would like to fight for that at least one more time. The main issue is physical. This season, I’ve had two injuries – two wake-up calls – that make me consider certain things. I think about what my body needs, which is rest.”
“Physically I’m trying to get better, but mentally I feel very good with a lot of will to win games and to reach the final aim, which is to win the league.”