Though unconfirmed at this point, reports are circulating that recent first-round selection Christian Eyenga has inked a three-year deal with the Spanish DKV Joventut – the team most notable for point guard Ricky Rubio.
When Eyenga was drafted, many fans claimed that the selection was for the future. The plan seemed to be that if the Cavaliers drafted a raw, foreign player, he could stay overseas for the short-term and not be a burden in any way on the team’s salary cap.
Eyenga then suited up for the Cavaliers’ summer league team, and turned a few heads with his very athletic play. The main argument against the native of Congo was that he had periods where he would look like the best player on the floor, and then follow them up with moments where he looked like he had never played organized basketball before in his life. The team began to feel that if he could be put on an NBA training program, especially in the weight training area, that he could add muscle and become even more explosive.
There were grumblings that the team could sign him this year, instead of keeping him overseas, and start the process early – perhaps with the Erie Bayhawks of the Development League. Brian Windhorst reports that the team was planning on signing Eyenga to the requisite two-year, $2 million contract to get the proverbial ball rolling on the 20-year old’s development. One just has to wonder if Eyenga was aware of this. It should be noted that there are no details as to the structure of the reported deal.
Given this, one would surmise that the team was not expecing Eyenga to sign with the Spanish team. Of course, this also assumes that the current circulating reports are accurate.
A three-year deal may have quite a buyout/opt-out amount up front, unless Eyenga was able to negotiate a lower dollar amount.
As a fan, I am not too concerned about this report for a few reasons. Off of the top, no one was anticipating Eyenga on contributing anything this season. In fact, the consensus opinion post-draft was that the swing man would be overseas this season; the fact that he signed with a team that produced a top-flight point guard doesn’t hurt matters much. Remember, a lot of criticism came due to Eyenga’s previous team as it was widely considered to be “JV” compared to DKV Joventut.
Those that are not thrilled with this move have a right to be unhappy. Ideally, it would be best if the Cavaliers decided Eyenga’s fate based on what they had planned for the team over the next three years. If Eyenga made this move without consulting the team prior, there could undoubtedly be some tension.
Of course, if the opt-out amount is more than Eyenga would be willing to pay before the end of the three-year deal, this decision would prove to be not as favorable from the Cavaliers standpoint. Ricky Rubio’s (now well-documented) buyout was for $6 million. If the Cavaliers were looking to sign him for $1 million per year, and they can only contribute $500,000 towards the cause, things may get a bit sticky.
For now, it would be best to await confirmation of said rumors. Once confirmed, the devil will be in the details.
(Update: Eyenga has opt-out option after one year)