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Italian star Alessandro Gentile, one of the Euroleague’s top wing players, is determined to sign an NBA deal this summer, preferably with coach Mike D’Antoni and the Houston Rockets.
The Rockets own the draft rights to Gentile, a 6-foot-7 perimeter player who was the No. 53 overall pick by Minnesota in 2014.
“My goal is to play in the NBA next year,” Gentile told The Vertical. “I really hope this can happen. For me, Mike D’Antoni is like a legend in Italian basketball, an example for everyone. For him to coach me would be very, very nice.”
Gentile, 23, has built a reputation as a scoring and passing wing with three-point range. After playing professional basketball since he was 17 years old in Italy, including most recently with Milan, Gentile wants to negotiate a deal to join the Rockets. Houston has significant interest in bringing him over this season, but is likely to preserve salary cap space for the start of July free agency before committing to a contract with Gentile, league sources said.
“I have had a chance to grow up in the last year, playing as a captain for an important team like Milan and winning two championships as a leader of the team,” Gentile told The Vertical. “That’s all helped me to improve. The moment is right for me. I’d like to have the chance to try and play in [the NBA].”
Gentile would be considered a likely rotation player in the NBA, a versatile offensive player who can move between shooting guard and small forward. The idea of playing with Rockets star James Harden has tremendous appeal to him.
“James Harden is a superstar, one of the best players in the world,” Gentile said. “I think I can be useful to the team in many aspects of the game – shooting and scoring and passing. I think I could fit perfectly there. I just want a chance to come and help win games.”
Gentile wants to play for the Rockets, but will obviously be open to Houston trading his rights elsewhere if the franchise becomes hesitant – or financially unwilling – to make a market deal with him.
“My dream is that I want to play in Houston with Mike D’Antoni,” Gentile told The Vertical. “If that’s not possible, my goal is to still play in the NBA next year.”
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