Although the painful memory has faded because LeBron James has uplifted the franchise, it wasn’t too long ago when the Cavs were haunted by taking Anthony Bennett with the first pick overall in the draft. That didn’t work out so well, and Bennett was a throw-in for the trade that brought Kevin Love to Cleveland. After bouncing around a few years in the league, Bennett took his battered reputation overseas and can now call himself a champion, if nothing else. He won a Euroleague title recently and hasn’t given up hope of returning to the NBA and rewriting his career. Here’s Jason Gonzalez of the Minneapolis Star Tribune with the details:
Anthony Bennett, one of two former No. 1 draft picks traded to the Timberwolves for Kevin Love, hopes to have the “last laugh” in his basketball career.
After four flops with four different NBA teams, Bennett won a EuroLeague championship ring with Fenerbache, the Turkish professional basketball club, last weekend.
The 24-year-old forward played just 72 seconds in the title game and did not score. However, Bennett, who was traded to Minnesota in 2014 from Cleveland with No. 1 pick Andrew Wiggins, apparently still has confidence he can be the basketball star NBA scouts projected he would become.
Leading up to the final game of the EuroLeague championship, Bennett told reporters “I feel I have the last laugh. I just turned 24 years old, lot of time left.”
Bennett’s statement comes after yet another year of disappointment in the NBA and now the EuroLeague. He was waived by the Brooklyn Nets in December and cut by the Turkish basketball club in May. Fenerbache gave Bennett a second chance as a late postseason roster addition, but he received little playing time.
The former UNLV star struggled as a rookie in Cleveland and showed little improvement in Minnesota. He averaged career highs of 5.2 points and 3.8 rebounds per game, but only started three games and eventually sustained a right-angkle injury. Bennett, 6-8 and 245-pounds, played in just 57 games with the Wolves and was waived in September 2015.
Bennett then signed a one-year deal to play in his hometown Toronto, but again struggled and eventually assigned to the Raptors’ D-League affiliate. He briefly returned to Toronto and was released in March 2016.
The Nets’ experiment with Bennett lasted just 23 games. He made his first start for Brooklyn Dec. 3 and totaled a career-high 14 rebounds. He was waived by the Nets Jan. 9, 2017.
Fenerbahce signed Bennett days later. He was cut by the club in May and then resigned during EuroLeague postseason. Bennett averaged nine points, 6.4 rebounds and 22.4 minutes in seven games with Fenerbahce.
“I’m pretty happy I’m here, just enjoying the ride,” Bennett said after winning the EuroLeague championship. “It means a lot.”
Maybe the title experience will inspire Bennett to prove all the skeptics wrong and find his way back into the NBA. If not, the “last laugh” may be enjoying the $15.5 million he made in four NBA seasons.