Predrag Savovic was predicted to be drafted as high as a late first round pick in the NBA Draft, but wasn't picked at all. Savo flirted with playing in Europe under a guaranteed $400,000 a year, tax free, room and board contract, but ended up signing a contract with the Denver Nuggets. With the NBA Summer League already in action, Hawaii411 will recap Savo's Draft Journey from draft snub to this upcoming NBA season.
Savo worked out privately for many teams and performed well at the pre-draft camps. The scout's take: Can get his shot from anywhere on the court, good NBA body, hard worker, needs work on defense, 26 years OLD.
So why was Savo snubbed? Was it his age? Nobody's saying for sure, but it may have been a factor. How about the lack of defense? Can you say just about everyone in the NBA? The culprit... his guaranteed European contract.
Riley Wallace was upset with the NBA after Savo had been invited to New York for the draft and then not even picked. It just so happens that Riley's agent happens to represent Indiana Pacer's coach Isaiah Thomas as well. Thomas called Riley and explained that when Savo dropped to the second round, teams were afraid to keep him because they would have to match Europe's offer. In the NBA, only first-round picks have guaranteed contracts and second round picks usually get the Rookie minimum AFTER making the team's final roster. No one wanted to waste a second round pick on someone who might bolt to Europe for more money
The Rainbow Connection
In one of his pre-draft workouts, Savo got to work one-on-one with former Rainbow Jarrin Akana. Akana has made the improbable leap from the tiny town of Kaunakakai on Molokai to the big time in Denver. After working with Kiki Vandeweghe at Pete Newell's Big Man's camp in Hawaii, Vandeweghe took Akana to work with him on the Dallas Mavericks. When Vandeweghe became Denver's General Manager, he took Akana along with him. Akana is now in charge of Player Development and the head Scout for Asian talent.
How big of a role Akana had in Savo's contract offer isn't known, but it couldn't hurt to have a former Bow on your side. Obviously, Akana and the rest of the Denver staff saw enough of Savo to offer him a guaranteed contract.
Savo signed a contract as a free agent for the NBA rookie minimum of $345,458. There is an option for Denver to pick him up for a second year. This may not sound like much compared to the millions of dollars Juwan Howard makes, but let's take a look at what Denver's other first year signees got. The first round picks will get guaranteed money according to a pre-set scale, so they don't count. Second round pick Vincent Yarborough got the same contract as Savo. The only other rookie free agent to sign, Junior Harrington, sign a contract, which is contingent on Harrington making the roster. Basically, Savo ended up with the same contract he would've had as a second round pick.
Kobe Bryant, Vince Carter, Michael Jordan, Allan Houston... Voshon Leonard? The shooting guard position in the NBA should be among the team leaders in scoring. Leonard, the Nuggets' current starter, averaged a palsy 11.5 points a game. It's no wonder the Nuggets held a wide-open tryout this summer, looking for anybody who could shoot. All four players selected from the 200-man turnout just happened to all be shooting guards. The Nuggets failed to find one in a trade or get a marquis name in the draft, but hope to find the next John Starks bargain basement find.
Along with Leonard, other players who can play the 2 spot are Calbert Cheaney (more of a small forward), free agent rookie Jr. Harrington, and former Michigan Fab-5 player Jimmy King (who was the only survivor from the open try-outs). Does Savo have a shot? You're damn right he does.
Last year the Nuggets were plagued by injury and finished a dismal 27-55. This year, they dealt their best player, Antonio McDyess. The Nuggets seem to be rebuilding, with the additions of Rookies Nene Hilario and Nikoloz Tskitishvili. The open try-out drew criticism and laughs from the media, but shows the franchise is willing to do anything to find a shooting guard...
well anything except spend the big bucks. The Nuggets are also very young, with twelve players on their roster with three years experience or less. This is a team in need of some help.
It all comes down to Savo. Savo has been known to take a while to warm up at times, and as a NBA rookie, might not have the chance. Savo needs to make an immediate impact off the bench with some long range threes if he wants to see some PT. His maturity at age 26 will help him establish some leadership on a young team. The Rainbow fans know Savo is a
workaholic with the body and conditioning to make it in the NBA,
Savo is currently getting the most minutes among the shooting guards on the Summer League team, as well as leading that position in scoring after two games. It looks like Denver has high hopes for him and wants him to develop.
Basically, things look good for the former Rainbow. If Savo can establish himself on the Nuggets, and Anthony Carter can regain the starting position with Miami, they may lead the way for more U.H. players into the NBA. Maybe we'll see current Rainbow Warrior Carl English joining them in the future. We hope Savo becomes the next European sensation in the NBA and hope to see more of his crowd-pleasing frenetic play in the future.
Good luck Savo!