With Panathinaikos, Veteran NBA Point Guard Marcus Banks Looks To Reclaim His Game Overseas

Critics are quick to write off Marcus Banks after spending nine years in the NBA and playing for seven different teams including a stint in the D-League. But at 30-years old, Banks' story is far from over. Now he has the chance to write a new chapter after signing his first contract to play in Europe with Panathinaikos.

This was supposed to be Marcus Banks' moment.

After everywhere he's been and all of the packing and unpacking from NBA city to NBA city he's done in the last nine years, all eyes were on Banks to relish the spotlight.

It didn't last very long.

Last season Banks rode the buses and back roads of the D-League with the Idaho Stampede and since then the well-traveled point guard patiently waited for the phone to ring while contemplating his free agent future in the game.

Earlier this week, he received a long distance phone call and was on his way.

The fine print on Banks' scouting report: he knows his way around an airport.

The 13th overall pick out of UNLV by the Memphis Grizzlies has played with with seven different teams since being drafted in 2003. He tried to hang his hat on being a defensive-minded point guard, but instead Banks is more known for being a toss-in player in a number of NBA swaps: traded on draft night in 2003 to the Boston Celtics with Kendrick Perkins, traded to Minnesota three years later in a seven player deal featuring Wally Szczerbiak, Ricky Davis, Mark Blount, Justin Reed, Michael Olowokandi and Dwayne Jones, signed as a free-agent with the Phoenix Suns in 2006 and after two years (he signed a 5-year deal) moved to Miami with Shawn Marion in exchange for Shaquille O'Neal.

Wait, that's not all. Not even close.

After appearing in only 28 games for the Heat in two seasons, Banks took his game to Toronto -- again with Marion -- in a trade with the Raptors for Jermaine O'Neal and Jamario Moon. He barely saw floor time in Toronto either.

Next stop New Orleans. Banks was Big Easy bound on November 20, 2010 with Jarrett Jack and David Andersen for Peja Stojakovic and Jerryd Bayless.

He never made it. At the advice of his representation, Banks did not report to the team and the two sides agreed to go their own separate ways.

Two years later Banks is looking to "make it" somewhere.

Regardless where he's been, Banks' fate around the NBA was somewhat tainted by constantly being shifted around from team to team, coaching staff to coaching staff, teammates to teammates, expectations to expectations. They said he would bring depth. They said he would bring scoring. They said he would bring defense. But for a position like point guard where you are expected to confidently run a team boosted by the trust of a head coach and front office, Banks could only watch and learn from the bench and fend off frustration.

"Sometimes you have to take a couple steps backward to find yourself," Banks said last season in Boise, where he averaged 17.9 points, 5 assists, 1.7 rebounds, 54% FG, 46% 3-pt in 26 minutes per game in 19 games.

"It's a learning experience coming here, and it's been great. I'm still learning the game, so this is a great situation, playing with a couple of (veterans) and being a mentor to some of the young guys who've never made it to the show."

Banks made it to the show and in Minnesota (12 ppg., 4.7 apg., 2.9 rpg, 1.2 spg, 48% FG, 36% 3-pt., 30 mpg, 28 starts, 40 games) during the 2005-06 season proved what he can do when given the opportunity to actually play consistent minutes.

At 30-years old, Banks is still fresh, can still defend, can still push the tempo, and is still hard to handle when he gets into the paint. The overseas audience reading this may find it far fetched to believe, but it's way too early to count Banks down and out (the naysayers did the same with Bobby Brown in the past, but Montepaschi Siena seems to be happy with him) simply because he's bounced around and logged PT in the D-League.

The guy may have racked up the frequent flier miles, but the journey is far from over.

Earlier in the week Banks signed his first contract to play in Europe with Panathinaikos Athens, who were looking for a lift in the backcourt. Sitting at 3-3 in Group A Euroleague competition, Banks has a chance to contribute on both ends of the floor on a team broke a two-game losing streak by beating Real Madrid, 79-68, thanks to Stephane Lasme's 15 points and 8 rebounds.

Banks arrived in Athens on Tuesday and is expected to be available when Panathinaikos takes on Greek League foe KAO Dramas on Sunday.

As for this being Banks' moment to bask in some Greece glory?

Two days after Banks touched down in Greece, Jason Kapono stole some of the thunder after Panathinaikos announced they've signed the veteran sharp-shooter who spent last season with the Los Angeles Lakers for the remainder of the season.

This is one time where Banks probably doesn't mind sharing the spotlight.

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