Another member of the Magic is heading overseas. Justin Harper, acquired on draft night from the Cavaliers early in the second round, has agreed to a deal with France’s SIG Strasbourg. His deal will include a clause that will allow him to return to the NBA at the conclusion of the lockout, however he has no guarantee of a contract in the NBA because he is a second round pick.
Other players on the team have hinted they may go to Europe (namely Dwight Howard, Hedo Turkoglu and DeAndre Liggins), but Harper is the first player the Magic have rights to that will officially make the trek overseas to play basketball during the lockout. Magic free agent Earl Clark signed with a team in China last week, but secured no opt out clause.
“I weighed the advantages and disadvantages of going versus staying, and I just really thought the most good would come out of me going to France and playing,” Harper told Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel on Tuesday. “If it’s a longer lockout, like everybody’s saying, then I’ll get a chance to still be in shape and be playing against some professionals. It’ll give me a chance to improve before I report to training camp.”
For a young player like Harper there are a lot of pros and cons to this kind of a move. It is clear from his contract’s structure that Harper expects to crack an NBA roster and has every intention of returning to the United States once the NBA’s lockout ends, even without the guarantee of an NBA contract.
Orlando likes Harper because he can very much be a stretch-4. But what roll Otis Smith and Stan Van Gundy envisioned for him specifically for the 2012 season is unclear since both Ryan Anderson and Brandon Bass remain on the team. Orlando liked him enough though to give up a second round pick next year for him.
For a team that is pretty thin on depth — and cash — losing any player can be a pretty big blow. And it definitely says something that we are fretting about the loss of a second round pick (someone who is not even under contract with the Magic).
It will be good for Harper to get some experience and get used to professional basketball. That will make him a better player when he comes to the United States to play for the Magic.
The league in France is not exactly the highest in the world. SIG Strasbourg did not qualify for Euroleague and finished 12th in the French Pro A league. You would think Harper could make an impact for that team.
The good news for the Magic is that they will see exactly what Harper can do before training camp. That could make their decision to sign him or not a little easier.
Photo via DayLife.com.