And-Ones: Russia, Okafor, Clark, Overtime Elite, Kuzminskas

Despite his war with Ukraine and the WNBA star’s controversial imprisonment Brittney Griner, Russia is still viewed as a viable destination for some US basketball players, writes Jonathan Abrams of the New York Times. About 30 American men are expected to attend Russia this year, which is twice the normal figure. Those who made the decision cited the financial incentives, which include salaries of more than $1 million and free apartments and cars.

“Everyone will say, ‘Why would you go there?'” said the 35-year-old KC Riverswho has played for several Russian teams. “But at the end of the day, you still have mouths to feed. You still have to take care of your family. And sometimes it’s not always the easiest decision, but you have to do what’s best for you. You cannot make decisions based on what general society says.”

Female players, even those in the WNBA, used to view Russia as a great way to make money, but the Griner case has largely changed that. Anyone who is still willing to travel to Russia will find offers more lucrative than ever. An agent told Abrams that Russian teams are paying 50% more to women this year and sometimes triple the salaries offered in other countries.

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Here are more odds from around the world of basketball:

  • The Mexico City Capitanes, who will be full participants in the G-League regular season for the first time in 2022-23, have acquired return rights to NBA veterans Jahlil Okafor and Garry Clarksay league sources Marc Stein (Twitter link).
  • Overtime Elite will add three high school teams for the upcoming season, says Zagsblog’s Jacob Polacheck. The programs are Hillcrest Prep (Arizona), Our Savior Lutheran (New York), and Word of God (North Carolina). The league will have 20 players returning from last season, including Amen Thompson and Ausar Thompson, both of which are projected as top 10 picks in the 2023 draft. The newest addition to Overtime Elite is 7’0″ High School Junior Somto Cyrilwho ranks among the top 25 players in the class of 2024 according to Eric Bossi of 247 Sports.
  • Former Knicks player Mindaugas Kuzminskas has signed with Pinar Karsiyaka in Turkey, according to Eurohoops. The 32-year-old small forward played for Lithuania during the EuroBasket.
  • USA Basketball will resume its mini-camp for the junior national team after a two-year absence due to the pandemic, writes ESPN’s Jonathan Givony. It will take place in Colorado Springs from October 7th to 10th. “This camp was an important part of the development of our junior national team and we are very happy to be back.” said SeanFordUSA Basketball National Team Director. “The world is getting better faster than we are improving, so we must keep improving with more camps, continuity and teaching.”

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