Houston Rockets head coach Mike D'Antoni's ties to the EuroLeague — particularly in Italy — appear to be paying off, as Italian wing Alessandro Gentile told Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical that he is dead set on coming to the NBA.
The Rockets own his rights, thanks to paying the Minnesota Timberwolves cold-hard cash for the 53rd pick in 2014. Gentile also has his eyes on the Rockets. D'Antoni coached Olimpia Milano, Gentile's current squad, from 1990 to 1994. The 6-foot-7 wing said he would relish the chance to team up with James Harden.
"James Harden is a superstar, one of the best players in the world," Gentile told The Vertical. "I think I can be useful to the team in many aspects of the game – shooting and scoring and passing. I think I could fit perfectly there. I just want a chance to come and help win games."
Rockets GM Daryl Morey was high on Gentile's talent when the team picked him up in 2014.
Welcome to the Rockets Alessandro Gentile! Scorer who can attack the basket & pass with 2-way ability due to his size & length at the 3— Daryl Morey (@dmorey) June 27, 2014
Last year, Marc Stein reported the Rockets want to bring the wing over this coming season. How serendipitous.
Gentile sounds like a solid pickup for the Rockets, who currently lack a versatile stretch player who can create his own shot or consistently nail a three when Harden is hurting for help. They are also looking to potentially move on from small forwards Trevor Ariza and/or Corey Brewer. Ariza disappeared in the playoffs this year so a change would be welcome to many fans. Gentile could also spell Harden at shooting guard off the bench. The biggest question mark for him, by some critics, is whether he can strip away his mid-range game and fully commit to the "three-pointers or layups" mentality Houston employs. We're confident that he is ready for the challenge.
The 23-year-old perimeter player has been compared favorably to Real Madrid's Andres Nocioni, who did damage from 2004 to 2009 with the Chicago Bulls. Gentile's presence on the Rockets' roster would be considered an unquestioned success if he can provide upwards of 14 points per game in 24 minutes of gameplay like Nocioni did in Chi-Town, and there is reason to tip your hat to D'Antoni if his reputation as an international coaching legend will continue to garner consideration from players like Gentile.