Eliyahu, Gaffney, Roberts And Copeland Look To Stick In NBA From Overseas To Summer League

BONN, GERMANY - OCTOBER 10: Tony Gaffney of Bonn moves to the basket during the Beko BBL Bundesliga match between Telekom Baskets Bonn and FC Bayern Muenchen at Telekom Dome on October 3, 2011 in Bonn, Germany. (Photo by Dennis Grombkowski/Bongarts/Getty Images)

The upcoming summer leagues in Las Vegas and Orlando will be the chance to see some NBA rookies who heard their names called on Thursday night's draft step on the court for the first time as pros.

For others, they are gunning for a second chance at a first impression after spending this past season overseas.

As teams continue to adjust and announce their summer league rosters for Vegas (beginning July 23) and Orlando (July 9-13), a number of players who played internationally have already agreed to play this summer with hopes of making an NBA training camp roster.

Maybe it will be the team they are with in summer league.

Maybe it will be for another team in the league who did enough to impress scouts, coaches or front offices types that will be on-hand to evaluate another crop of basketball talent.

Regardless if they are a second round hopeful, shot blocker, league MVP or bring championship experience to the table, here are four players who spent last season overseas and should impress this year at summer league:

Lior Eliyahu - Maccabi Tel-Aviv

6-10, 225 pound - Forward

Minnesota Timberwolves (Las Vegas Summer League)

For the last two seasons, Eliyahu has called Maccabi home, but the NBA waiting game has actually been going on for six years. Will that change in summer league with Minnesota?

The Orlando Magic selected Eliyahu in the second round (44th overall) in the 2006 NBA Draft, who was then shipped to Houston. His rights were traded again on Thursday night to Minnesota as part of a trade involving Chase Budinger going to the Timberwolves in exchange for the 18th pick.

Prior to playing in Tel-Aviv for the last two seasons, the 6'9 post player played in Spain (Caja Laboral Vitoria) after beginning his professional career between Ironi Ramat Gan and Galil Gilboa in Israel.

Eliyahu won a Spanish League championship in 2010 and parlayed that into a five-year deal with Maccabi, where he averaged 11.7 points and 4 rebounds per game, while shooting 59.7% on the season in the Adriatic League (24 games), 8.6 points and 3 rebounds per game in the Euroleague (20 games), and 13 points and 5.1 rebounds per game in the Israeli League (25 games).

At 26-years old, the belief is Eliyahu has a true shot at making Minnesota's training camp roster if he can show and prove in Las Vegas that he is NBA ready. The one kicker to keep in mind: he does have an NBA buyout clause of $500K and it's been reported that the T-Wolves are not expected to foot the bill.


Tony Gaffney - Telekom Baskets Bonn

6-9, 220 pound - Forward

Utah Jazz (Orlando Summer League)

Running the floor and all out defense - that's what Gaffney's has been about since he was voted Atlantic 10 Defensive Player of the Year and to the Atlantic 10 All-Defensive Team in 2009 out of UMass.

Yet with that trademark "D" it's easy to forget about his athleticism and ability to play above the rim on the offensive end.

Appearing both in Germany's Beko BBL and EuroChallenge with Bonn this season, Gaffney averaged 12.9 points and 6.1 rebounds and 11.6 points and 5.4 rebounds per game respectively and truly got the job done on both ends of the floor. Not only did he shoot 63% from the field and 32% from 3-point, but his long reach equally served him on the defensive end as he averaged 1.8 (which led the BBL) and 2.1 blocked shots per game respectively.

After playing for the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics, Gaffney spent time overseas in Israel and Turkey, logged some D-League minutes with the Utah Flash and put together a sound season in Germany.

Still, as is the case with a number of players who play overseas and have that NBA experience on their resume, they feel there is some unfinished business to attend to in the league and Gaffney is no different.

Will this be his chance to stick?


Brian Roberts - Brose Baskets Bamberg

6-2, 180 pounds- Guard

New Orleans Hornets (Las Vegas Summer League)

There's just no other way to say it: Roberts is a proven winner.

For the third season in a row, he helped lead Bamberg to their third-straight Beko BBL championship in Germany this season and once again was a calming presence in their backcourt.

After going undrafted in 2008 out of Dayton and playing in summer league with the Orlando Magic and Los Angeles Clippers in recent years, Roberts played one season in Israel with Galil Gilboa before joining Bamberg and becoming the unheralded leader during Brose Baskets' three-peat.

During BBL competition, Roberts was Bamberg's second leading scorer with 12 points, 3.2 assists and 2.1 rebounds per game. He can flat out shoot - 56% from the field and 49% from 3-point and is a tough guard because of his quickness.

Bamberg would love to have him back anchoring their backcourt for another run at a title, but if the Hornets are dead set about adding some championship experience at the point, they should take a long hard look at Roberts.


Chris Copeland - Generali Okapi Aalstar

6-9, 235 pounds - Forward

New York Knicks (Orlando Summer League)

It seems like forever ago that Copeland was playing college basketball at Colorado.

Since then, he's gone from undrafted in in 2006 to the D-League (Fort Worth), to Spain, Holland and Germany before spending the last two seasons with Aalstar in Belgium. And that's really where his career has blossomed in stepping out on the perimeter and polishing his back to the basket game.

The Belgian League MVP averaged 21.8 points and 5.5 rebounds (57% FG, 45% 3-pt.) on the season, while putting up 20 points, 4 rebounds and shooting 60% from the field in 11 EuroChallenge games.

This past Tuesday, Copeland worked out in Memphis with Casey Mitchell, Carlos Cabezas, Steven Gray and Reyshawn Terry but is now all in with New York at summer league.

If the situation with the Knicks doesn't work out, there are a number of clubs in Europe who will be waiting to acquire Copeland, with Valencia in Italy reportedly already prepared to make an offer.

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