Will Clyburn ‘was close’ to NBA move in 2019

2022-10-04T10:25:33+00:00 2022-10-04T10:28:44+00:00.

Giannis Askounis

04/Oct/22 10:25


A brilliant career in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague as Will Clyburn focuses on displaying his talents overseas

By Semih Tuna/ Stuna@eurohoops.net

Everything might happen for a reason. All concerning Will Clyburn led to huge success in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague.

After one year at Darussafaka and five at CSKA, he joined the back-to-back champion Anadolu Efes penning a two-year contract, early in the offseason. Making the leap to the NBA was not the case, despite nearing a deal three years ago.

Clyburn, 32, talked to Eurohoops about the NBA, initially planning to stay at the team based in Moscow and the new season of Europe’s premier club continental competition.

“I had an offer but not the offer we were looking for,” he said on the approach without naming the NBA team interested, “CSKA at that time provided stability. They showed that they were serious and wanted me for multiple years. That is when I signed a three-year deal there. The NBA was a one-year. I was either going to take a chance there for one year or be somewhere where I was really wanted for three years. I chose to be somewhere where I am wanted.”

“It was close before I signed. We talked after I signed,” he added on the discussions falling short of a move to the NBA, “It was one of those things that did not work out.”

A few years forward, the plans to further extend his successful run at CSKA were halted by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“No. I would have never left,” he was clear on whether the war led him to depart CSKA, “I guess unofficially, I had signed a two-year deal with them. I renewed my contract, at one point of time in the season. I planned on going back, for sure.”

The 2019 EuroLeague champion and Final Four MVP was instead welcomed by Efes. Shane Larkin, Vasilije Micic, and many of the players connected to winning the 2020-21 and 2021-22 editions of EuroLeague are his new teammates.

“It was the best situation for me personally. I felt it would be great to play with some of these guys,” he said, “Obviously, it would be great to play with a lot of these guys. They were already together. I felt I can come to help them a little more.”

“Everyone is going to have his own opinion,” he looked to brush off a question about his new side carrying the strongest-ever roster, “I know we are a talented team. We have some amazing players. Everyone is talking about Vasa, Shane, and me. I am just here to play ball and help the team as much as possible.”

“Everyone has a talented roster this year. It is going to be another tough season in EuroLeague,” he braced for demanding competition in the next season, “I am just excited about that.”

Coming off two seasons in Germany and one in Israel, Clyburn finally made it to the EuroLeague signing with Darussafaka and playing under David Blatt in the 2016-17 season.

“David Blatt brought me to EuroLeague but I won’t say he is the reason I was in EuroLeague. Dan Shamir, one of his closest friends, actually made the call to him about me,” he recalled getting the opportunity to shine at the highest level of club competition in Europe, “At that time, I was still without a team, in between talking to teams, but I did not have a real team. Dan Shamir called David and David called me, maybe ten minutes later, and said he wanted me to come. I don’t know what their connection is completely, but he had a lot of trust in Dan, and David turned around and had a lot of trust in me. So, it worked out well.”

It was the first step, an early sign of a great career in the EuroLeague. He since upped his total of games played to 160, was named to the All-EuroLeague First Team in 2019 and Second Team in 2021, and captured multiple monthly and weekly MVP awards, besides the championship and Final Four MVP nod in 2019.