When the New York Knicks signed 7″1′ Russian center Tomofey Mozgov to a 3-year, $9.7 million contract in early July, I, like many of you, gave a big ‘Huh?’ Part of that is the result of people, myself included, not being as aware of international prospects. The other part was that Donnie Walsh and the Knicks seemingly did it under the cover of darkness.
As was pointed out at The Painted Area, if other teams suspected Mozgov’s interest in playing in the NBA this season, as opposed to staying with his Russian club, BC Khimky Moscow, and getting more seasoning, there would have been more competition for his services. And especially curious when you consider that the Knicks signed Mozgov while the New Jersey Nets and their new Russian owner were licking their wounds from losing LeBron.
The Painted Area also called Mozgov the best free-agent candidate, factoring his youth of 24 years, behind Brendan Haywood and Darko Milicic, and described him as a “powerful finisher.” Well, not so much against Yi Jianlian (according to the visual eye, not necessarily a FIBA referee). For an explanation, let’s go to the GIF machine …
After a drive by Russian guard Dmitry Khvostov, on which Yi helps off of Mozogv, the ball is dished to TimoFey who has the baseline and an open path to the basket. But hold those Russian horses, the athletic Yi whips around and ain’t scared to meet young Timmy at the rim.