When Valencia signed Mickael Gelabale back in mid-December to help close out their season in the ACB League and EuroCup, there was question even then how long he would be around.
The answer: 5 games.
It did not take long for the 6-foot-7 small forward out of France to apply the NBA opt-out clause in his contract and now after beginning the season in Croatia with Cedevita Zagreb, Gelabale is reportedly heading back to the NBA with the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Reports surfaced last week when Gelabale was said to be leaving Spain for the States and were confirmed over the weekend by the Minneapolis Star Tribune. The latest word is there is concrete interest from the Wolves, but no agreement has been reached yet.
It appears the relationship is moving in that direction however.
GM David Kahn and the Wolves “have pursued” Gelabale for weeks and Minnesota is “still very interested.” If the two sides can finalize the details, Gelabale and Minnesota should be a good fit for each other.
The Wolves have been trying to find a small forward and add some athletic depth since the departure of Josh Howard and while Gelabale has not been without some health distractions (he injured his ankle at the 2011 EuroBasket with the French National Team leading to his departure from Spirou Charleroi in Belgium), Gelabale has proven to be effective.
Earlier this season with Cedevita, Gelabale averaged 12.8 points and 4.9 rebounds, while shooting 41 percent on 3-point shots in 10 Euroleague games. In his limited action with Valencia, Gelabale put up 11 points and 3.4 rebounds in 5 ACB games.
This is not the same kid who played for the Seattle Sonics as a second round pick (48th overall) in 2005. Playing around Europe has helped grow his game and mature as a player. That has been the most important key to his development: experience. Nothing speeds up the process like actually getting on the floor and playing.
Since last spending time in the D-League with the Los Angeles D-Fenders in 2008-09, Gelabale spent time back in France and Belgium, before moving on to Russia, Croatia and then Spain.
At 29-years old, Gelabale is also a winner. With BC Khimki, he won the 2012 Eurocup, captured the 2004-05 Spanish National Championship with Real Madrid before making the jump to the NBA, won a French National Championship with Cholet Basket in 2009-10 upon his return overseas and then of course his contributions to the French National Team.
The Wolves would not just be getting another small forward here.
Mickael Gelabale has come a long way and the Minnesota Timberwolves hope he can take them even further.