Thursday, July 12, 2012
Teletovic hopes Nets will 'do big things'
By Mike Mazzeo
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Mirza Teletovic said several NBA teams were interested in him.
Eventually, the 26-year-old Bosnian stretch forward narrowed the list down to two: the Nets and the Cavaliers.
So why did he choose Brooklyn?
“I will do anything to play for a good team,” Teletovic, who signed a three-year deal worth $9 million, said Thursday at a news conference. “I played for very good money in Europe too. But like my agent said, we want to come to a team that wants to do big things, and I think the Nets are ready to do that.”
Teletovic, who ended up taking less money to play in Brooklyn (he originally signed for $15.7 million, but took the mini mid-level exception instead so the Nets could chase Dwight Howard), added that what helped sell him on the Nets was the fact that Deron Williams elected to stay.
He has been playing power forward for the last few years in Europe, but said he can play both forward spots.
Teletovic said his best strengths on the court are his long-range shooting and his ability to run the floor. He added that he needs to get better defensively, and has recently improved as a rebounder.
“I will try to do it,” said Teletovic, adding that it takes a lot of “will” and “energy” to be a good defender. “I will practice all the time to get better.”
Teletovic doesn’t know if he’ll come in and start for the Nets right away.
“I will try to do my best in practices, and I think the coaches will decide,” he said, adding that he’s never met Avery Johnson or been to Brooklyn before.
Teletovic credits agent Misko Raznatovic for delivering on his promise to get him an NBA contract.
Raznatovic didn’t want Teletovic to enter the draft in prior years because he didn’t want him to get drafted “55, 40 or 38.”
So he played for more than a decade overseas before getting his break. Teletovic signed his first professional contract when he was 16. Raznatovic discovered Teletovic in Bosnia when he was 14.
“He’s done everything that he promised me,” Teletovic said.
Teletovic said it was time for him to play in the NBA because he’d basically won everything he could in Europe.
He grew up in a small city of about 5,000 people in Bosnia. At the age of 14, his parents sent him to the best high school in the country, where he became fluent in English.
“It’s impossible to play basketball if you don’t get good grades in English, so I tried to do my best,” Teletovic said.
When he was 17, Gonzaga and Connecticut approached Teletovic at the European Championships in Sweden about taking a college scholarship. But his agent thought it made more sense for him to play professionally in Belgium and be close to home.
“When you’re 16-17 years old, your parents are scared,” Teletovic said. “’The States are so far away. We’re never gonna see you. When are you gonna come back? Stay somewhere close.’ Belgium was a two-hour flight, very close.”
Teletovic said his wife and two children will be joining him in Brooklyn, which should help him with the transition.
Teletovic is captain of the Bosnian national team. His coach is Aleksandar Petrovic, brother of late Nets legend Drazen Petrovic.
“My father has all the tapes,” Teletovic said of Petrovic’s NBA games. “He’s seen everything. (Drazen’s) a legend. Everyone over in Bosnia has a lot of respect for him.”