Fresh from the completion of his basketball camp in his native French Guyana, Kevin Seraphin arrived in Paris on early Tuesday, just in time to train with the French national team as it prepares for the European championships in Lithuania later this summer. And, if the NBA lockout continues to drag on, there is a strong possibility that the Wizards big man will remain in France to continue his professional basketball career.
Seraphin’s agent, Bouna Ndiaye, said his client has received interest from several European teams who hope to sign the 6-foot-9 forward who averaged 2.7 points and 2.6 rebounds in his rookie season with the Wizards. More than likely, Ndiaye said, Seraphin will look to return to his former team, Cholet Basket, which developed Seraphin when he left for France at age 16.
“We’re starting to talk and see what the options are in case this thing lasts longer than we expected,” Ndiaye said of the lockout. “If nothing is moving, then we’ll probably just get him to a team, maybe his French team, to not take any risk of a new environment and keeping from getting better. We’re kind of waiting a little bit to see what’s going on.”
But Ndiaye understands that he may have to move swiftly to have some preliminary agreement — with an escape clause allowing Seraphin to return to the Wizards once the lockout ends — reached sooner than later. Seraphin negotiated a buyout with Cholet last year to join the Wizards. The team will participate in a EuroLeague qualifying tournament in September.
Ndiaye plans to also seek deals in Europe for some of his other NBA clients, such as Portland’s Nicolas Batum and Denver’s Timofey Mozgov, but added that Roddy Beaubois of the champion Dallas Mavericks underwent surgery on left foot surgery last month and won’t pursue opportunities in Europe.
“This is a trend. Everybody is trying to sign NBA guys,” Ndiaye said in a telephone interview from Paris. Seraphin “may just sign with a team, because I don’t think it’s a good idea to wait. The market will be overloaded by NBA players. It doesn’t hurt to have a pre-agreement if we find something we like. We may just wait and see. But nothing would happen until the European championship ends.”
San Antonio Spurs guard Tony Parker has already stated that he would come back to France if the lockout continues through January. And another former Wizard has already found employment in France, with Mustafa Shakur signing with Pau-Orthez.
Ndiaye said Seraphin is understandably worried about the lockout “like every NBA player” but is focused on making the final 12-man roster for the European championships. Seraphin is one of 15 invitees, including fellow NBA players Parker, Joakim Noah, Boris Diaw, Mickael Pietrus, Nicolas Batum and Ronny Turiaf. France is attempting to qualify for the 2012 London Olympics and Seraphin is hoping to make the team after a knee injury led to him getting cut last summer.
NBA teams used to help cover up to half of the cost of insuring players, but with the lockout in place, the French federation is working with FIBA, basketball’s international governing body, to create a policy to protect competitors. The Wizards picked up the third-year option worth about $2.8 million on Seraphin last month.
Seraphin, 21, has been working diligently since the end of the regular season to get “in his best shape ever,” Ndiaye said. Before the lockout, Seraphin was a regular at Verizon Center, working out with the coaching staff, and he has spent the past few weeks keeping fit with his personal trainer.
“His body looks really good,” Ndiaye said “He’s working on his post moves. It seems like he matured and he’s anxious to come back. He’s really focused. He’s looking good . . . trying to get ready for the second season. Unfortunately, we don’t know what’s going to happen.”