Portland Trail Blazers free agent forward has agreed to a one-year deal with BC Nizhny Novgorod of Russia, according to a report Wednesday from Chris Haynes of Comcast Sportsnet.
The deal for the stretch-four reportedly does not include an out-clause, language often included in contracts with NBA stars during lockout seasons, for example, which would allow them to return to the NBA under certain circumstances. Babbitt's deal to play in Russia has not been publicly acknowledged by the Blazers or the league. However, his agent, Bill Duffy, told Sportsnet that this is the best move for his client right now:
"My take is Luke needs to play 30 minutes a game and play a more expanded role. We've had recent success with both Danny Green (of the San Antonio Spurs) and Patrick Beverley (of the Houston Rockets) getting an opportunity to develop their games in Europe and returning to the NBA. The NBA is a league of opportunity. We feel strongly this is the best move for Luke at this time."
The 24-year-old Babbitt shot 43 percent from three in only his second year in the NBA in 2011 but saw that number dip to 34 percent last season. Overall last season, he averaged 3.9 points and two rebounds in 11 minutes per game, appearing in 62 contests for the Blazers. The team decided not to exercise the fourth year of his contract before last season, setting him for free agency this summer. The former 16th overall pick out of Nevada had perhaps his best outing of the season last year, scoring 14 points including four three's and pulling down eight rebounds in a 101-93 home win vs. the Denver Nuggets in December.
Babbitt leaves behind a core of forwards in Portland that includes rising star Nicolas Batum with Thomas Robinson and Dorrell Wright.