July 17, 2017
Top overall pick Markelle Fultz had his summer league experience cut short due to injury, which allowed the man who was selected No. 36 to steal some of the Summer Sixers spotlight. In eight games split between Utah and Las Vegas, Jonah Bolden averaged 8.8 points, 6.3 rebounds, 1.9 steals, and 1.4 blocks in 23.4 minutes per game.
But unlike Fultz, Bolden will not be in Philadelphia this season. Instead, he will play his basketball for Maccabi Tel Aviv (Israel), a powerhouse international club according to international hoops scribe David Pick:
Source: Sixers grant Maccabi their blessing to stash Adriatic League superstar Jonah Bolden. Tel Aviv, Red Star negotiate his release.— David Pick (@IAmDPick) July 17, 2017
PHI fell in love with Jonah Bolden in Las Vegas. Maccabi offers Euroleague platform and NBA coach - great stash situation for future 76er.— David Pick (@IAmDPick) July 17, 2017
Bolden didn’t shoot particularly well from anywhere on the floor in summer league play, but the flashes were enough to turn some heads. Check out his blocks in the first half of the Celtics game below. Bolden absolutely devoured a few offerings at the rim:
Bolden’s strong play led to some speculation about whether the Aussie forward would be staying overseas this season. With the Sixers roster looking full after factoring in the J.J. Redick and Amir Johnson free agent signings, it didn’t appear that there was any additional room for Bolden. Bryan Colangelo had originally hinted that all of the Sixers’ international draft picks, including Bolden, would be staying overseas for at least the 2017-18 season.
He did leave the door slightly open at the time, though.
“Some of those clauses would suggest that they will not be coming immediately, but everything is up for discussion as we build this roster,” Colangelo said.
As it turns out, the discussion ended up transferring Bolden from Red Star Belgrade to a higher level of competition in Tel Aviv. For reference, the 6’10” forward is roughly following the European path of current Sixers forward Dario Saric, who also starred in the Adriatic League like Bolden before making a similar move to the Euroleague and the top level of basketball outside of the NBA at Anadolu Efes.
All in all, this is a good outcome for the Sixers, who can delay Bolden’s arrival in America by at least a year (although it will be interesting to see what the buyout at Tel Aviv is next offseason) when there isn’t really a pressing need for services yet.
For Bolden, the Australian basketball reunion with Ben Simmons and Brett Brown will have to wait at least a year. But Maccabi Tel Aviv also represents a step up in competition and a talented club where the former UCLA Bruin will have to earn minutes on a regular basis.
Follow Rich on Twitter: @rich_hofmann
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