It’s not just the big names like Kobe or D-Wade who are talking about playing overseas. Other players are also considering going overseas to play the game and get paid. Kevin Palmer, formerly of the Toros has already decided that he will be playing overseas. Palmer signed a one-year contract to play for Fukuoka Rizing of the Basketball Japan League.
Last season, the 24 year old former Texas A&M Corpus Christi star played 50 games for the Toros, averaging 13 pts; 5 rebs; and just under 2 steals a game—solid, but not spectacular numbers on the offensive end. Palmer’s strength was his perimeter defense. He would have been a likely starter for the Toros this season.
Palmer is 6’6” and a wiry 210 pound guard/forward. His biggest assets are his athleticism and willingness to mix it up defensively which is why he is an intriguing prospect for an NBA team. His offensive game is still a raw and his shooting mechanics need work. While Palmer may get a better pay check playing in Japan for one year, it is debatable if he will continue to evolve on the offensive end as he would had he stayed with the Toros. The level of talent in the Japanese league is nowhere near the level of talent in the D-League.
With the Toros, Palmer would have played with and against higher caliber players. He would also likely received starters minutes. While he does have a clause in his contract with Fukuoka to opt out should the NBA lockout end that allows him to pursue a roster spot with an NBA team, his move is risky.
When your name is Kobe or D-Will, you are an established player and going overseas makes sense in that as long as you avoid injury, you can stay in playing shape and bring home a large paycheck while racking up ridiculous numbers against lesser opponents and having a bit of an adventure and something else to put on your basketball resume. Once the lockout is over, these elite players will return with fatter wallets and will be in game shape. For players like Palmer, while there might be the potential for greater pay playing overseas, his greatest need is to improve his offensive game. It is questionable he will elevate to an NBA ready player while playing in Japan.
While Palmer takes his talents to Japan, other players will see this vacancy in Austin as the opportunity they need to get to the next level. One player’s gamble is another player’s golden opportunity. It doesn’t look like there will be an NBA season this year and the highest caliber basketball you will see in America will be in the D-League. The Toros have an opening. It will be interesting to see who steps up to fill the void and prove that he deserves to play with the big boys.