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Andrei Vorontsevich talks Thunder, injury, Shved

July 10, 2012

2012 should have been the best summer in Andrei Vorontsevich’s career, considering the good chances to take part in Olympic games again, and an NBA offer rumored to be in place.

Instead, the forward is at home in Moscow, unlikely to move anywhere, nursing an injury and watching the games of Russian national team on TV.

NBA rumors, barely confirmed yet used in Russia to fuel national pride, were quickly twisted the other way – that instead of resting after the season in CSKA, Vorontsevich traveled to the States and hurt his back there, working out in front of NBA teams.

Andrei Vorontsevich during 2010 World Championship.
Photo: LifeSports

An interview conducted by Anton Solomin for today’s issue of Sport Express helps to clear things up a bit.

Vorontsevich said his back problems started several weeks before the end of the season, though he still managed to play major minutes for CSKA with the help of painkillers. He has later reported to the national team’s training camp and worked out separately for three days, but medical staff there said serious rehab was required.

Unable to stay with the national team, Vorontsevich was cut from the squad for the Olympic qualifiers, and coach David Blatt announced that he player wouldn’t be invited later if Russia qualifies.

“Of course Blatt wanted me to get well soon and stay with the team. But talking to him I have voiced my opinion, which I think is right. You know, I tried to rehab within the team for a month and a half while at CSKA, and right now I understand that it doesn’t work. Serious measures were required.

“Here, in the hospital, it takes me up to five hours a day just to do exercises for the back muscles, and it doesn’t include the procedures. I wouldn’t be able to do the same while with the team. Constant flights and travel doesn’t help either”

Vorontsevich is visiting the hospital daily except for weekends, “like it’s work”.

On the Oklahoma City Thunder:

“I don’t know why it was so blown out of proportion by the media. I did travel to Oklahoma, but didn’t do any workouts there. The Thunder were interested in me before, and they still are. We’ve met with the club representatives and talked.

“But I never said it anywhere that I was leaving for the States. What I know right now is I am still under contract with CSKA for two years. If I had a real offer from an NBA club, then we would at least have something to talk about. But right now my main goal is to finish the rehab completely and to get ready for the start of next season.

“I didn’t talk about that trip, especially since I made it during my free time. Should a player text every other person telling about his vacation plans? And all the talk about my lack of desire to play for the national team, it’s just nothing”.

Alexey Shved and Andrei Vorontsevich. Photo: Sport Express

On his friend Alexey Shved’s likely move to the NBA:

“I think in terms of skills and athleticism he’s been ready for a long time. So it all depends on him and his mental toughness. Alexey is very strong, even though he looks skinny. Of course it will be hard in the beginning. But if he signs a contract with an NBA team, I wish him to get a lot of playing time, to score a lot of points, to dunk and get on highlight reels often. I’m sure he can pull it off.

The lane is more open in the NBA, because defenders can’t stand under the rim all the time. And with the speed that Shved has, his wide steps and vertical leap, he will drive there and dunk over anybody’.

Personally I’ve been thinking that Vorontsevich should try a move to the NBA for a couple seasons already, probably since his double double against Team USA at 2010 Worlds. Considering his Euroleague experience, size and strength, and the skill set of a much in-demand stretch four, he’s one of the few Russian players who could really help an NBA team. Back injuries can be unpredictable, but here’s hoping that it’s not the end of an NBA story for Andrei Vorontsevich.

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