After getting a chance to play in the NBA with the Hornets, forward Bostjan Nachbar felt his best move was to stay put
Thursday, July 21, 2005
By Jimmy Smith
Some NBA players mark time on the calendar, waiting for contracts to expire so that a few potentially lucrative words can be placed in front of their name on July 1: Unrestricted free agent.
Not Hornets forward Bostjan Nachbar.
"At the end of the season, I had thought about what the Hornets had given me," Nachbar said Wednesday at Dillard, at one of the team's free Summer Hoops Clinics.
"They offered me a new career, a new life. In Houston, I never got a chance to play. The Hornets did so much for me. When it came to re-signing, I never thought about any other team. . . . I really felt comfortable here. I had my mind set. I said if the offer came from the Hornets, they'd be my No. 1 choice. That's how it stayed."
Nachbar's agent, Chicago-based Herb Rudoy, understood.
"Those were my instructions -- getting something done with New Orleans," Rudoy said. "For Boki, that was the best opportunity to play. He said to talk to Allan (Bristow, Hornets general manager) right after midnight (on July 1). He had no interest in going anywhere else. I did what he wanted."
As soon as the league gives the OK for teams to sign players, Nachbar will sign a three-year contract with the Hornets.
Nachbar, acquired on Dec. 27 last year from the Rockets, earned $1.4 million in 2004-05.
His future, at the moment, appears to be in New Orleans, where he will buy a home for his new bride, Anka. He just returned from a six-day trip to Beijing, China, where he participated in the NBA's Basketball Across Borders clinic program with former Rockets' teammate Yao Ming, along with Tony Parker of the San Antonio Spurs and Kyle Korver and Samuel Dalembert of the Philadelphia 76ers.
Although the Hornets are searching for a small forward who can score, Nachbar said he has received encouragement that he will enter training camp in October as the team's first option.
"I was just in the office yesterday and talked to Allan real quick," Nachbar said Wednesday. "He told me if the season started today, I'd be the starting small forward.
"It puts a lot of pressure on me. But at the same time, I never felt happier in my life than when he told me that. It's a great opportunity. That doesn't mean that they're not going to bring another small forward in. There's still a lot of time.
"But it definitely means they're counting on me as a guy who can spend a lot of time on the floor this year."
Which is exactly what Nachbar hoped. He hasn't asked Rudoy about the half-dozen other teams that expressed interest in him. And he said he won't. Nor will Rudoy offer.
After spending the next few weeks in New Orleans, Nachbar will return to his native Slovenia to play for his country's national team in the European championships in Belgrade, Serbia, a qualifying tournament for next year's World Championships.
"It's the highest possible tournament in Europe," he said. "I'll play a bunch of games, which will help me a lot, get me into game shape so when training camp comes around, I'll be ready for it."
NOTE: Tonight at 9 p.m., Cox Sports Television will air a special about the recently concluded summer league in Las Vegas called, "New Orleans Hornets Summer League: Shooting For The Stars." Hornets radio voice Bob Licht is the host of the show.
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Jimmy Smith can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (504) 826-3814.
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