Knicks draft pick Thanasis Antetokounmpo chose the NBA’s D-League over an A-Division team in the Italian League along with over a $500K pay cut in hopes of expediting his NBA career (Post, August 26).
The rookie took the $25,000 cap to play in Westchester over a two-year $550,000 deal with an opt-out to join the NBA after one year, much to the surprise of his agent, Tim Lotsos.
“Amazing, isn’t it?,’’ Lotsos said in a phone interview with the Post. “To my surprise, he passed on it. He’s very ambitious and determined to make the NBA. It’s a big sacrifice. It could’ve really put him ahead of schedule in his career. I didn’t try to force him. I wanted him to make his own decision.’’
Ultimately Antetokounmpo followed the advice of Knicks president, Phil Jackson, who made it clear when they drafted the rookie that he wouldn’t immediately make the roster.
“He spoke with Steve Mills and Phil Jackson,’’ Lotsos said. “He felt he’s in their plans in the future. They don’t have room for him on the roster, but they supported the idea of keeping [him] within the system and working and improving. He felt they do have a plan for him but they didn’t guarantee anything for next year.’’
Antetokounmpo played in the D-League last season before being drafted, though his agent said Thanasis is still hopeful a roster spot will open late in the season.