Speaking to reporters at the EuroLeague Final Four Press Conference today, Real Madrid star Luka Doncic was evasive when he was asked whether the upcoming tournament will represent the end of his EuroLeague career (link via Alex Madrid of Eurohoops.net).
“I’m not sure if these are the last two [EuroLeague] games,” Doncic said. “We have yet to make this decision. Perhaps after the season.”
Doncic has formally entered the 2018 NBA draft and certainly won’t withdraw his name from this year’s draft pool, since he appears to be a lock to be a top-three pick. However, prospects who are playing professionally in Europe at the time they’re drafted often remain overseas for one or more seasons before eventually joining their NBA team.
While Doncic seemed to leave the door open to that possibility, it’s hard to know how seriously to take his comments. As ESPN’s Jonathan Givony notes (via Twitter), today’s presser took place with Real Madrid set to vie for a title in the EuroLeague Final Four — given the timing, it probably wouldn’t have been in Doncic’s best interest to talk about leaving his current team.
On the other hand, as Givony observes (via Twitter), Doncic may also be aware that he holds some leverage in terms of his draft-day landing spot. If he doesn’t want to end up with a certain NBA team, Doncic could try to scare off that team by threatening to continue playing in Spain for another year or two. While that could just be a bluff, the NBA club in question would be forced to make a tough decision.
For now, it’s probably safe to assume that Doncic will arrive stateside later this year, but it’s worth noting that it may not be a lock.