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News » Krstic signs with OKC


Krstic signs with OKC


Krstic signs with OKC
KRSTIC FILE

→Position: Center.

→Height: 7-0.

→Weight: 240.

→Experience: Four years.

→Birthplace: Kraljevo, Serbia.

→Phonetic spelling: NEY-nad KRIS-tich.

→Of note: Played four years in Belgrade for a team owned by former NBA center Vlade Divac...Lists "Gladiator" as his favorite American movie.

Nenad Krstic's Basketball journey didn't begin with the luxuries that accompany AAU Basketball.

Unlike most American-born players, he missed out on the exotic travel and the free apparel. Such treats didn't exist during Krstic's childhood days in Serbia.

Krstic's unlikely NBA story started with pick-up games on cement-cracked playgrounds and inside underground gyms as a lanky teenager in Kraljevo, then a part of Yugoslovia. Basketball served as a much-needed diversion that helped take his mind off the battle that ripped apart his war-torn country in the early 1990s.

"It was always something in sports, especially in tough times during the war," Krstic said. "So it was always being in sports rather than being in the streets."

But Krstic, the Thunder's newest 7-foot center, has come a long way since having to lace up a pair of worn-out Converse because his cash-strapped family couldn't afford to purchase him a quality set of shoes.

The Thunder signed Krstic to a three-year, $15.6 million deal that launches a new chapter in his NBA career. Krstic will not be in uniform tonight against Golden State and cannot suit up until the final paperwork is completed on his work visa.

But he is eager to embark on his second NBA stint. After four seasons in New Jersey, he started this one in Russia. Krstic was one of a handful of players to flee to Europe when overseas clubs outbid NBA teams for talent.

"I know it's just going to take some time," said Krstic, who scored 13 points with 12 rebounds in his final game with the Nets on April 16. "Two weeks ago I played a game in Russia, and all of a sudden I'm in the NBA again in the middle of the season... I'm feeling great and I can't wait to start playing again."

Thunder general manager Sam Presti had his eye on Krstic as a potential free agent target next summer but finalized the deal 32 games into the season to bolster an injury-plagued and underachieving frontcourt.

While Presti was a front office executive in San Antonio, the Spurs were so high on the 19-year-old Krstic during the 2002 draft that they reportedly guaranteed they'd select him with the 26th pick. The Nets plucked him at 24.

"I think he's going to bring a number of different things to our team," Presti said. "First and foremost an ability to stretch the floor, and he adds another player to our roster with a high Basketball IQ that understands how to play the game and play at a high level. Clearly we're thrilled to have him."

Four years ago, Nets coach Lawrence Frank said he would have been happy just to get anything out of his newest rookie. Then teammate Vince Carter said he didn't even know who Krstic was before being traded from Toronto to the Nets.

But Krstic quickly turned heads.

He averaged 14.1 points and 7.3 rebounds in 34 minutes a game in the final month of his rookie season. Krstic then averaged 18.3 points, 7.5 rebounds and 56.3 percent shooting in four games against Shaquille O'Neal and the eventual champion Miami Heat in the first round of the 2005 playoffs.

Krstic seemingly was headed for All-Star status in 2006-07 before a knee injury limited him to 26 games. He was averaging 16.4 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.8 assists in 32.6 minutes before tearing his ACL in December 2006.

"You would hope that he's going to be able to come in and help our team get over the hump in some of these games," said Desmond Mason. "But you don't want to put too much pressure on the guy like he's supposed to come in and save the whole entire season."


Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website: http://www.foxsports.com
Added: January 3, 2009

 

 
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