Last week, Mirza Teletovic finally got the salary he'd originally been promised in the NBA when the Phoenix Suns offered him $5.5 million, if only for one year.
Teletovic was originally supposed to get the full mid-level exception when he joined the NBA in 2012 but the Nets were not allowed to sign him to that deal because of CBA limitations. He settled for the tax payer mid-level, a good 40% less than the MLE.
Now committed to Phoenix, Teletovic tries to fulfill his NBA potential as a stretch four who can pour in threes and pull the other team's big out of the paint for drives to the hoop by the Suns guards. In this role, he will basically be reprising Channing Frye's offensive role from two years ago.
Let's compare Frye's 2013-14 season to Teletovic's, and to Anthony Tolliver's 2014-15 which included half his games in Detroit. I chose the 2013-14 season for both Frye and Teletovic because each of their 2014-15 seasons were forgettable. Teletovic for (mostly) health reasons, and Frye (mostly) because of lack of opportunity.
Frye played a lot more minutes in 2013-14 than Teletovic, so let's review some advanced stats to compare the players.
For one thing, Teletovic is actually a better rebounder than either Frye or last year's stopgap Anthony Tolliver. Not a lot better, but a little.
The advantage that the 2013-14 Frye had over Teletovic was playing opportunities and the ability to spot time at center. Teletovic is no center, even though he's just about 6'9" and carrying 250 pounds. But he doesn't need to be a center either, now that the Suns have a two-man center tandem of Alex Len and Tyson Chandler. And when they want to go small, Markieff Morris can still spot time there.
Let's get to know Mirza a little better. I asked around and got a lot more feedback on the guy, who just might be one of the nicest people in the league.
Before the NBA
Input from Edvin Crnolic, from BHDragons.com, a dedicated website covering all Bosnian sports.
As you know, Mirza is from Bosnia and Herzegovina. Mirza is originally from Mostar, where he was in an 18 month siege during our civil war. Mirza has been quoted to say that basketball is what go him through this tough time. Mirza's love for the game is something i can't explain, he would do anything for the sport that helped him.
Mirza started his career with Sloboda Tuzla in the Bosnian basketball league. His first season was slow, but in his second season Mirza increased his stats immensely to 26.4 PPG and 6.6 RPG in just over 17 games in the season. His most recent European basketball play was with Saski Baskonia in the Spanish Basketball League. In 6 years, Mirza was able to become the captain of the team, winning two Spanish league championships and one Spanish King Cup MVP award. He is still thought of as a legend with the team.
Mirza is the captain of our National Basketball team, where he has played since 2003. He has recorded 49 games, 5th in our nations history, and 620 points, 3rd in our nations history. In the Eurobasket 2013 qualifications, Mirza averaged 24.3 PPG, 6.2 RPG and 2.1 APG. Mirza helped us secure a qualification in Eurobasket 2015 with some amazing games, averaging 26.3 PPG, 6.7 RPG and 2.3 APG in the qualifications. He ranked #1 in 3-pt field goals made during the qualifications. He will be playing for us in the Eurobasket 2015 competition which will be from Sept. 5-20. Mirza takes pride in competing for our country as well as any team he plays for.
Mirza in his own words
"If I have to die, I die. For basketball, I'd do anything."
"Real pressure is to survive."
Joining the Nets
Bob Windrem, from NetsDaily.com: He basically was poorly treated by the Nets from Day 1. He was supposed to get the full MLE in 2012, but the Nets made a mistake in interpreting the Collective Bargaining Agreement and he had to settle for the Mini-MLE, a loss of millions ... on top of having to pay his Spanish team a $2 million buyout.
Year One - coach Avery Johnson/P.J. Carlesimo
Bob W: In year one, neither of the Nets two coaches that season trusted him, not Avery Johnson nor his replacement, P.J Carlesimo. There are stories of how both ownership and management lobbying Carlesimo in particular to play him. They didn't. There were issues related to his defense, specifically his lack of understanding of certain sports jargon were used in defensive schemes. Still, when they were in need of outside shooting, they refused to play him despite entreaties from top brass. His teammates, particularly Deron Williams lobbied for him. In the first round playoff loss to the Bulls, he got one minute of playing time.
Year Two - coach Jason Kidd
Bob W: Jason Kidd recognized his value and Teletovic responded well, with a great season, coming off the bench as a three-point assassin. He shot nearly 40 percent from deep and showed he could rebound.
Year Three - coach Lionel Hollins
Bob W: Then, this season, when everyone expected him to make a significant improvement, in his contract year, he didn't. He was inconsistent. As one Nets exec said, he was good one game out of three. Then came the clot issue in January. By March, the team knew he was not physiologically prone to clots.
Bobby Marks, until recently an Assistant GM of the Nets, had this to say about Teletovic: He seemed very tired throughout the year. The toll of playing 82 games (each year) in 2 years, playing for his national team, travel really caught up to him. It was not his work ethic that led him to a down year.
Bobby Marks talks about Teletovic in broader terms:
Teletovic is a big stretch 4; 6'9/250. Came into the league strictly as a catch and shoot player. Really has developed his game over the last 2 years to do more than give you instant offense. Would not have stayed on the court if he could not defend and rebound. Got a lot better on the defensive end.
Mirza and Brook [Lopez] are two of the nicest players I have been associated with in my 20 years. Great wife, 4 kids (twins). He is very humble but has a strong sense of confidence. Grew up during the war and has been thru hell and back.
I got to know him a lot better when we went to China last year. Mirza, myself and our PR director went to see Federer play Djkovic (spelling?) about 1 hour away from Shanghai. Learned a lot about him the car ride on how much he has given back to his country and his community. He is royalty in Bosnia.
Bob W: Personally, he is one of the smartest ball players you will ever meet. He has great respect for the media, is famous for reading EVERYTHING written about him. He is popular among his teammates. He is tough. He is a leader, if quiet.
Edvin C: Mirza is known for being one of the most lethal European 3-pt shooters, which is great for the Suns. We think this is a great acquisition for both the Suns and Mirza. The Bosnian fan base is very excited and will be rooting for the Suns this season!