SEPTEMBER 25TH, 7:50pm: The Clippers have officially announced the signing.
SEPTEMBER 14TH, 10:50am: The RealGM transactions log confirms the signing took place, but the Clippers still haven’t made an official announcement.
SEPTEMBER 10TH, 1:06pm: The Clippers have signed 2002 No. 5 overall pick Nikoloz Tskitishvili to a non-guaranteed deal that covers one season, reports international journalist David Pick (Twitter link). The team has yet to make a formal announcement. It’ll be for the minimum salary, since that’s all the Clippers have to offer. The deal nonetheless represents a comeback for a player considered one of the all-time draft busts. Tskitishvili, 32, has been eyeing another go at the NBA of late, having been out of the league since 2006, as Christopher Dempsey of The Denver Post recently chronicled.
The 7-footer averaged just 2.9 points and 1.7 rebounds in 7.2 minutes per game during his four-year NBA career, spent mostly with the Nuggets, who made that fateful draft pick, passing over Amar’e Stoudemire, among others. He also played for the Warriors, Timberwolves and Suns, passing briefly through the hands of the Trail Blazers before a camp deal with the Knicks in the fall of 2006 that was his last NBA contract.
Tskitishvili spent the past season with Champville of Lebanon, racking up 21.0 points and 11.6 rebounds in 37.6 minutes per game, as Pick notes (on Twitter). He told Dempsey that he hoped that the Nuggets would give him the chance to come back to the NBA and erase the memories of his earlier flameout in Denver, but instead it’s the Clippers who will give him an opportunity.
“You can blame me or you can find some reasons to blame,” Tskitishvili said to Dempsey. “When they draft you as a No. 5 pick, really I shouldn’t have taken it, and stayed in Europe a couple more years. But you can’t say no to the No. 5 pick. You might never come to the NBA. I was afraid for the future. This was my opportunity to be in the NBA. This was guaranteed. I had to take it. If I played overseas for a couple years or three years [though], I would be much better.”
The Clippers have 14 fully guaranteed contracts plus a non-guaranteed deal with Chuck Hayes, and they’re also reportedly bringing undrafted center Yanick Moreira to camp. So, Tskitishvili has at least a somewhat reasonable chance to make the opening night roster nearly a decade after his last regular season game.
Do you think Tskitishvili will finally make an impact in the NBA, or will his comeback be short-lived? Comment to tell us.