With Rudy Gobert and Derrick Favors the Utah Jazz have two of the best, young bigmen around. They are both defensive forces and depending on the lineups head coach Quin Snyder uses, will both split some of the time at center this year. That said, with only "6'8" Trevor Booker (on a partially guaranteed contract), and Jack Cooley on a non-guaranteed contract behind them, it's clear that there was a need for another solid bigman to not just make the Utah Jazz roster, but play a big role off the bench. Personally, I felt like there was a great candidate out there in Croatian bigman Ante Tomic. Tomic, who the Jazz drafted back in 2008, is arguably the best center in Europe, and his passing ability, size, soft touch around the rim, and ability to make his free throws clearly would have been an asset for general manager Dennis Lindsey 's team off the bench. Would have been, being the operative phrase here because as Emmet Ryan reports over at BallinEurope.com, Tomic did what we all expected him to do -- sign a big fat payday to stay in Europe.
According to Ryan:
Ante Tomic has inked a new deal with FC Barcelona that will see him stay at Palau Blaugrana through to the end of the 2017/18 season, at which point the Croatian big man will be 31. The deal also includes an option to extend through to 2019 however it is unknown at this time whether that is a player or team option.
In a statement on Barcelona's website Tomic said:
"I am very happy to have renewed my contract and am grateful to the people at Barça for their support and for offering me this new opportunity".
"I only have fond memories of this place, and I want to win everything I can with Barça, the Euroleague, the Liga Endesa, the Copa del Rey...everything".
"We have played Madrid a lot of times and know what we have to do. But one thing is talking about it and another thing is doing it on court. We have to be mentally and physically ready to win this league. They're very special games and we want to end the season with a title."
Tomic has been linked heavily with a move to the Utah Jazz, who hold his NBA rights, along with garnering interest from other wealthy clubs in Euroleague looking to upgrade. Barcelona however held off all suitors and likely ponied up big, with Tomic able to use the interest from the Jazz and elsewhere as significant leverage on his new deal.
Effectively, he stays with FC Barca to be part of a team that has difficulty staying in the #1 spot in Spain (effectively, winning something like the South West Division title), that usually underperforms in the playoffs (Euroleague Championships). He's Dwight Howard with the Houston Rockets, but living a much nicer lifestyle. It's easy to dismiss Tomic's vast accomplishments because we have North American sour grapes, but he really is a nice player.
He's not a legit shot blocker though, and he's not a significant threat to spread the floor no matter how good he is facing up from the high post and finding cutters. So while having him in a Jazz uniform would have been nice, he wasn't going to be that magical player that fulfills all of our needs from a reserve bigman.
Furthermore, and this has NO evidence for it, but with this news happening about 10 days before the NBA Draft, we may see the Jazz be a little cautious with throwing away 2nd round picks on European players who don't specifically want to play in the NBA. And I understand all points of this story. Tomic likes being a big fish in a small pond. I totally get that. I've spent the last few years writing about a non-playoff team for SB Nation, instead of trying to be something else, someone writing national stories for B/R or something. I just really love it where I am, and don't feel the need to expand my internet presence to a new audience.Tomic likes being the #1 or #2 center in Europe who never has to box out guys like Andre Drummond, Rudy Gobert, Kenneth Faried, and so on for 82 games a year.
I also understand the Jazz pov, Tomic, back in 2008, had given people the indication that he wanted to play in the NBA. Of course, that was back when he was playing in the Adriatic league, and not the Spanish ACB. Things have changed over time, and the ultimate take-away here is that you don't want a guy on your team that doesn't want to be there. And with his love of the lifestyle, his personal accomplishments, and the fact that while his team hasn't won anything -- he's still winning enough to feel "close" to winning it all, it would have been hard to pry away this guy from FC Barca if they are willing to pay him DeMarcus Cousins money.
And at the end of the day, that's probably what it comes down to. Tomic only talks about the Jazz when he's in contract negotiations. Perhaps we Jazz fans should do the same? I wish Tomic all the best, and I also find it hilarious that Ryan writes in that article about how Tibor Pleiss had an awful season and that there's no good reason for the Jazz to bring him over, even if he wants to come over.
C'mon on down, Myles Turner!