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Sports

Doors wide open for Kai

SPORTING CHANCE - Joaquin M. Henson - The Philippine Star

After missing out on the NBA draft last week, Kai Sotto is now exploring his options for the future and its a wide open road to lead him to where he wants to end up. Kais dream is to play in the NBA. The draft wouldve been a pathway but it isnt the only avenue available to hopefuls like Kai.

For one, Kai has a year left in his Adelaide contract in the Australian NBL. In his rookie season with the 36ers, Kai started slow and finished fast. The improvement was evident towards the end of the campaign. Overall, he averaged 7.6 points, 4.5 rebounds and 15.8 minutes in 23 games, shooting 51.4 percent from two, 38.5 percent from three and 68.7 percent from the line. In Kais last five outings, he hit at an 11.6 clip and logged 16.6 minutes a game. Kai collected 12 points and seven boards in 21 minutes in Adelaides final contest, a 93-60 romp over New Zealand.

Playing in the NBA Summer League is another option. Which team will enlist Kai is a question mark. In the run-up to the draft, Kai worked out with the New York Knicks, Cleveland Cavaliers, Chicago Bulls, Orlando Magic, Atlanta Hawks, Sacramento Kings, Los Angeles Clippers and Indiana Pacers. He missed working out with at least six teams after sustaining a low ankle sprain at the Hawks camp and was sidelined for 10 days. Maybe, one of the eight teams which hosted Kai for workouts will step up with an offer. NBA veteran JaVale McGee, once considered as a Gilas naturalized import, worked out with 15 teams before his draft and was picked by Washington, a squad he didnt report to camp for. So its possible a team that didnt bring in Kai for a workout could invite him for the Summer League.

Another option is to try his luck in the European leagues where centers his size are virtually positionless. Kai may also try to squeeze in time with Gilas if the opportunity arises. The FIBA Asia Cup in Jakarta is set on July 12-24 and Kai will surely be welcomed to the cast if stars are aligned for it to happen. There are two other World Cup qualifying windows scheduled on Aug. 25-29 and Nov. 10-13. More options are to play in the NBA G-League, sign a two-way contract or do an Exhibit 10 non-guaranteed deal for a training camp invite.

At the moment, nothing is certain. Kai isnt rushing things. In a statement, Kais management group East West Private said “no decision has been made as to what his next step will beKai is exploring all options, including playing in the NBA Summer LeagueKais NBA agent Joel Bell has still to discuss with Kai and EWP what are the available options so that his comments about future plans are strictly his views.” Kai watched the draft proceedings on TV with his parents, brother and sister at EWP executive Chao Espaldons home in Atlanta. Of 270 draft applicants, only 16 were invited to the “green roomat the Barclays Center in Brooklyn where the NBA named the chosen 58.  The upside of not being drafted is Kai is now an unrestricted free agent and can choose which NBA team hed like to try out for with no strings attached.

KAI SOTTO

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