Euroleague players who could move to the NBA this summer

This season, Euroleague teams made significant strides by signing high-profile players from the NBA, such as Jabari Parker, Kendrick Nunn, and PJ Dozier. Amidst this rising level of competition, several Euroleague players have emerged as potential candidates to make the opposite trip to the NBA this upcoming summer.

Here are nine of them. (Some of them may be familiar to you already).

Gabriele Procida

Gabriele Procida is one of the best young prospects in the Euroleague. The Portland Trail Blazers selected him with the No. 36 overall pick in 2022 and immediately traded him to the Detroit Pistons. Earlier this year, his rights were moved again to the Utah Jazz in the trade that sent fellow Italian Simone Fontecchio to Detroit.

The young Italian, who has been playing for ALBA Berlin since 2022, is an explosive forward who uses his size to finish around the rim and defend. At 21, Procida is the current frontrunner to win the 2023-24 Euroleague Rising Star award. Procida, who is averaging 8.3 points per game on 43 percent shooting from the field so far this year, needs to develop his jumper further to succeed in the NBA (29 percent from the three-point line this season), but he is a prospect we’ll probably see in the league in the future.

The only question is when. According to Donatas Urbonas of BasketNews, Procida was likely to join the Pistons next summer, but the trade that moved his rights to Utah changed the situation. Procida has a contract with ALBA until the summer of 2025.

Walter Tavares

Walter Tavares, at this stage of his career, could be a solid backup center for several teams in the Association.

Tavares has been the Euroleague’s most dominant defender for the past 5-7 years, winning the Euroleague Best Defensive Player award three times. He briefly played in the NBA with the Atlanta Hawks and the Cleveland Cavaliers, appearing in just 13 games from 2015 to 2017. His game has evolved since then, though, becoming a Rudy Gobert-type of player in Europe.

The 31-year-old center will become a free agent at the end of the season, and many Euroleague powerhouses, including Real Madrid and Panathinaikos, are expected to offer him big money. Last summer, the Portland Trail Blazers reportedly offered him a multi-year deal, but his buyout with Real Madrid was above $6 million, which was the biggest reason the deal wasn’t finished. That’s not the case this year, as he will test the market.

Tavares isn’t letting go of the NBA just yet. He admitted, the dream is still there. If a multi-year guaranteed offer presents itself for Tavares again, we might see him back in the league, perhaps with a different role.

Markus Howard

Markus Howard is a gifted scorer. After two years of competing for a spot in the Denver Nuggets rotation, Howard signed a deal with Baskonia to play in the ACB Spanish League and the Euroleague. Since then, Howard has become one of Europe’s best guards, scorers and three-point shooters.

Howard currently ranks second in points per game in the Euroleague with 18.8 points on 40.1 percent shooting from beyond the arc. What’s also interesting to note is that he is only 25 years old, meaning that if he continues to play like that in Europe, he surely will get another shot at the NBA.

Yes, Howard signed a two-year extension with Baskonia last summer, but his contract includes an NBA out clause. So we could see an NBA team taking a shot at him. His former teammate and two-time league MVP Nikola Jokic said last year that Howard didn’t get the opportunities he deserved in the NBA.

Mario Hezonja

There have been a lot of rumors over the past weeks about Mario Hezonja’s future in Madrid. The former NBAer is set to become a free agent in the summer, and even though Real Madrid wants to keep him, the two sides haven’t agreed on a contract extension yet.

His reputation in the NBA hasn’t been that great. Fans may remember him from his highlight plays of dunking on Giannis Antetokounmpo and then stepping over him… or blocking LeBron James and staring him down. Over the last few years, Hezonja has also made some pretty negative remarks about the NBA, stating that it is a show while claiming he did not get the respect he deserved while playing in the league.

Similarly to Walter Tavares, his game has evolved since his stint in the NBA. Per Donatas Urbonas of BasketNews, Hezonja is aggressively exploring the NBA market and intends to return at some point. Again, the player’s role in the league will play a factor in his decision this summer. Also, his former team, Panathinaikos, is in the mix to sign Hezonja, as his connection with the club and the fans runs deep. A lot will depend on the offers he will have from Euroleague teams.

Tarik Biberovic

The Memphis Grizzlies drafted Tarik Biberovic with the No. 56 overall pick in the 2023 NBA draft. The 23-year-old forward from Turkey has played professionally in his native country since 2018 for Fenerbahce, and this season has been his best by a mile (6.9 points on 55.6 percent shooting from the field).

Some areas of Biberovic’s game may remind you of Fenerbahce legend Bogdan Bogdanovic, as he can really shoot the ball from downtown (56.6 percent on three-pointers this season) and use his size to score. The Grizzlies’ plan for him was to stash him overseas in Turkey for at least this season. Memphis’ general manager Zach Kleiman said Biberovic is a player who can make it at the NBA level.

Since then, Biberovic has had some pretty impressive games in the Euroleague for Fenerbahce and has seen an increase in his playing time over the last two months.

Keenan Evans

After not getting drafted in 2018, Evans played in the NBA Summer League for the Golden State Warriors before signing a two-way deal with the Detroit Pistons. He did not make the NBA roster, but he played for one year in the G League, and his European journey began soon afterward.

At 27, Evans is considered one of the best guards in Europe. He currently plays for Zalgiris in Kaunas (Lithuania). This season in the Euroleague, he’s averaging 17.2 points and 3.9 assists per game. Even if it’s a long shot, NBA teams could be interested in signing him, at least on a non-guaranteed contract. The question is whether Evans would agree to such a deal.

Evans is set to become a free agent this upcoming summer, and rumors have already linked his name to Olympiacos and Fenerbahce.

Dzanan Musa

Dzanan Musa, a former Brooklyn Net wing, could be another Real Madrid player in the running to go back to the NBA. Since returning to Europe in 2021, Musa has achieved remarkable success. He’s won the Euroleague twice (2021, 2023) and was named the MVP of the Spanish League (2022).

In other words, he’s taken his game to another level. Musa recently said he is mentally stronger now than he was during his two NBA years. This season in the Euroleague, he’s averaging 13.5 points per game while shooting an impressive 41.9 percent from downtown.

Musa is under contract with Real Madrid until 2025, with an NBA out clause.

Mike James

Is there a Euroleague list without Mike James? If there is a player from Europe who deserves to be playing in the NBA, it’s the all-time scorer in the competition. James recently surpassed Greek legend Vassilis Spanoulis for the top spot and is leading the league in scoring again this year with 19.0 points per game.

As explained here, Mr. Natural had ups and downs in the NBA. At 33, he will become a free agent this summer, even though latest reports suggest he is close to signing a three-year extension with Monaco.

A return to the Association may be a long shot for James, given his age and stardom in the Euroleague, but several teams could use him in the league.

Kendrick Nunn

Kendrick Nunn signed a one-year deal with Panathinaikos in late October after not finding a guaranteed contract in the NBA. In his first season in the Euroleague, Nunn has been incredible to watch, transitioning quickly to a different game style, averaging 14.5 points and 3.0 assists per game, and leading his team to the No. 3 seed in the standings.

Since he stepped foot in Athens and spoke to reporters for the first time, he made it clear that his goal is to return to the NBA. A few months later, however, after witnessing the crazy atmosphere the fans create in Athens and bonding with his teammates, he admitted that he doesn’t like to move around all the time and that staying in Panathinaikos “is a possibility.”

Is it a lock for him to return to the league after all? Well, Nunn is a free agent at the end of the season and is expected to have interest from both NBA and Euroleague squads. Panathinaikos owner Dimitris Giannakopoulos will be willing to break the bank to keep him in Athens. However, a return to the league could very well be in his short-term future. If the right deal presents itself in the Association, Nunn would probably take it.

After all, he belongs in the league. Injuries were the main reason he didn’t find what he was looking for last summer.

Story originally appeared on HoopsHype