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Petteri Koponen, seven years after getting drafted in first round, still planning jump to NBA

Sep 2, 2014, 9:30 PM EST

BASKET-EURO-2013-FIN-SLO BASKET-EURO-2013-FIN-SLO

Earlier this summer, the Mavericks were pressed to create cap space to sign Chandler Parsons and Devin Harris.

They renounced Vince Carter and Shawn Marion, but that still left everything tight. Another way to gain cap room would have been renouncing Petteri Koponen, the No. 30 pick in the 2007 draft who has yet to sign in the NBA and whose rights Dallas holds.

Thankfully for the Mavericks, Dirk Nowitzki accepted a below-market offer – even further below market than the below-market deal that was initially reported.

That allowed Dallas to keep Koponen, who represents a $911,400 cap hit (not actual money he’s paid but that counts against the cap).

Will it ever pay off with an NBA player?

Marc Stein of ESPN:

Finnish point guard Petteri Koponen hopes to be playing in the NBA by the 2015-16 season.

Here at the 2014 FIBA World Cup, Koponen told ESPN.com he intends to make the jump to the NBA after completing the final season on his contract with BC Khimki in Russia.

"I always said my dream is to play in the NBA," Koponen said. "Every summer we talk a little bit with Dallas to see what the situation is and what they think. I’ve got one more year left on my contract in Russia and then of course I would like to come over. I hope I get some options to go there and show I can play at that level."

Team sources say that the Mavs have not ruled out importing Koponen themselves in the future, but there was no discussion of doing so for this season with four point guards already on the roster: Devin Harris and Gal Mekel as returnees and Jameer Nelson and Raymond Felton as the newcomers.

Harris, Mekel, Felton (player option) and Nelson (player option) all have guaranteed contracts for 2015-16, so Koponen won’t necessarily fit any better in Dallas a year from now.

The Mavericks might look to trade Koponen’s rights – a task made easier by his comments here. If Koponen wants to jump to the NBA, Dallas might extract an asset from another team in a deal.

For now, Koponen remains an answer to a trivia question. Who are the only first-round picks prior to this season actively playing outside the NBA without ever signing in the NBA?

In addition to Koponen, the other two: Livio Jean-Charles (No. 28 in 2013 by Spurs) and Fran Vazquez (No. 11 in 2005 by Magic).

  1. katra2logic - Sep 3, 2014 at 3:07 AM

    Livio Jean-Charles (No. 28 in 2013 by Spurs) will probably play for S.A. in the near future and the list will only have 2 players on it…

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