Sonny Weems is playing professional basketball again while the rest of the NBA sits and waits to see if a deal can be brokered between the NBA and NBAPA.
His move to Zalgiris Kaunas was one that seemed risky, given the fact that there is no opt-out clause in his contract. He is there for the duration of the season no matter what David Stern and Derek Fisher eventually agree on (if they ever agree).
For Sonny this trip to Europe may bring with it eventual dividends. If he can show himself to be a top player in the Euroleague he could earn his way to a big pay-day in the NBA (assuming the eventual CBA doesn’t make it hard to do so). Also, while the NBA players sit and wait for the league to come back, he will be playing ball overseas and keeping himself prepped and ready for game action.
Also, his and others involvement, with the Euroleague gives NBA fans something to do. Youtube clips of Euroleague games to watch, boxscores to analyze and dissect, players to speculate about and competition to peek our interest. Weems Provides Raptor fans, specifically, with exactly that. He is one of the more intriguing players for Raps fans to follow. Of course, Jonas will be the other one. Basketball fans are watching Sonny.
In his first game with Zalgiris, Sonny had an impressive 16 points, but it was on 5/13 shooting. He had almost triple the field goal attempts of any other player on his team. Weems developed a reputation in Toronto for volume shooting and being a bit of a black hole on offense. After one game, he seems to have followed that pattern of behaviour. What he did do, that he needs to do more of if he hopes to return to the NBA, is get to the line. He got to the line 7 times and turned it into an extra 6 points. If Weems can get into the paint and draw contact on a regular basis he becomes a much more valuable player for Zalgiris and eventually for an NBA team.
He is playing for the defending Baltic League champs and gets to play alongside a number of talented players including Ty Lawson, Dejaun Collins and the talented Paulius Jankunas. Zalgiris will likely play a part in this years top 16 teams and should be in the running to become a part of the Euroleague final four.
Success like that should give Sonny some positive exposure overseas and could help him net an NBA contract. There are a lot of teams that could use a talented wing player that plays tough defensive basketball. The leadership he gains with Zalgiris this season can only help his marketability next year.
Although Zalgiris was ultimately defeated by CSKA Moscow in the first game, Weems showed that he is there to compete and, hopefully, can show the NBA that he is ready for a larger role when he returns.
For now, he is giving us a reason to watch Basketball again and analyze the game. As the NBA loses week after week of regular season basketball to the lockout, Sonny Weems will be playing competitive basketball. If the season is ultimately cancelled, he’ll still be playing, while others scramble to find something to do.
His off-season gamble, may just end up paying off.
Zan Tabak Herald