With the Clippers in desperate need of help in the backcourt, CSKA Moscow's EuroLeague victory over Maccabi yesterday should not go unnoticed. It was CSKA's second title in 3 years, and of course the Clippers have crossed paths with them before, losing a pre-season game on the ill-fated training camp trip to Moscow in 2006. It's also worth noting that two of CSKA's most important players are Greek point guard Theodoros Papaloukas, the Final Four MVP in 2006, and American shooting guard Trajan Langdon, this year's MVP.
The Clippers purportedly pursued Papaloukas last off-season to no avail. He decided to stay in Moscow, and the rumor mill surrounding him has died down considerably. (Maybe he has a new CSKA contract with a big buyout - I don't know.) As for Langdon, the former Dukie, given that he has not one but two former teammates on the Clippers (depending on what happens with options, of course), he would seem to be a prefect fit for the Clippers if he were to decide to try his hand at the NBA again.
However, according to Ian Whittell's report from the Final Four in Madrid, he's simply not interested. He's made a satisfying career for himself in Moscow, and he has no intention of pursuing an NBA dream at this point. Still, it's one thing to say that - it's quite another to turn down a guaranteed contract with the chance to play (and live) in LA next to his friends Brand and Maggette.
Would he be able to make a significant contribution? It's hard to say for sure, but if you remember him from college, you know he can shoot, and he still can. He made close to 58% of his shots in the EuroLeague this season, and 46% of his threes (of course that's from the much shorter, 20'6" the international line). He also would seem to be a good 'glue' guy. This is a good team, that easily beat the Clippers in that 2006 pre-season game. It's loaded with NBA caliber talent (David Andersen was 2002 draft pick, Papaloukas could be in the NBA for sure, Khyrapa played for the Blazers and Bulls), but it's Langdon who leads the team in minutes. It should also be noted that although Langdon never got any traction in his first stint in the NBA with the Cavs, he suffered a knee injury as a rookie and never really got much of a chance after his knee surgery.
Anthony Parker could be an uncannily accurate comparison - first round draft pick (Parker was chosen 21st in 97, Langdon 11th in 99), struggled to find a place in the NBA for three seasons, went to Europe to play for a top club, won multiple EuroLeague titles and a Final Four MVP. Parker returned to the NBA at the age of 31 after 6 seasons in Europe and has been the starting shooting guard for the Raptors ever since, helping lead Toronto to the playoffs both of his seasons. If Langdon is following the Parker plan, now is the time to return: he's been gone for 6 seasons.
Of course, that's the big problem with both Papaloukas and Langdon - age. Papaloukas is 31; Langdon turns 32 next week. If the Clippers are looking for a shooting guard to replace Cuttino Mobley, it would be nice to find one who is more than 8 months younger than Cat. And if Langdon is as happy as he says he is, there's no way he's coming to LA for less than guaranteed money and a guaranteed opportunity to play. He's not leaving his situation to come here and back up Mobley, and at 32, the Clippers shouldn't pursue him unless they want him to play NOW.
So in the end, it seems highly unlikely that Trajan Langdon will be reuniting with Brand and Maggette for anything other than an alumni game at Cameron Indoor Stadium. But let's hope that the Clippers' scouts are looking hard for some backcourt help, even if Moscow isn't the answer.