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War between Nizhny and Babbitt

By Lefteris Moutis/

A new kind of “cold war” has emerged, this time between American player Luke Babbitt and his Russian team Nizhny Novgorod. Babbitt was the marquee summer addition to the team which competes in Eurocup and VTB league, however he wants to leave in order to return to the NBA as he has a contract offer by New Orleans Pelicans.

Earlier in the season Pelicans signed Alexis Ajinca by buying out his contract with French club Strasbourg. This time the situation was different, as Nizhny didn’t want to let Babbitt go and he still has a valid contract with the club. The player left Russia and that’ how the war between him and Nizhny started.

In a brief interview of Sergei Panov, former Russian national team player and general manager of Nizhny, which was reproduced in the official site of the team, it’s clear that Nizhny at this point will not let Babbitt return to the NBA. As Panov said: “They made us an offer, which didn’t satisfied us. Now we will negotiate through agents, attorneys and lawyers. I learned some new English words after this incident like “spit in the face” and “shit on your soul””. At this point, if Nizhny and the Russian basketball federation refuse to send the letter of clearance of Babbitt to the States, he will not be able to sign anywhere else until the end of the season according to the FIBA-NBA agreement.

Meanwhile, former NBA player Daequan Cook, who was a member of Budivelnyk Kiev during the regular season of Euroleague, signed with Tubingen of the German BBL, and earlier in the week 23 years old Ian Hummer, a star of Princeton university, signed also in Germany with Eurocup participant Ulm.

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