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.
(See more of Bennett below)
Royce White, another NBA outcast and former Minnesota prep star, is close to securing his own championship ring in the Canadian National Basketball League.
White led the London Lightning to first- and second-round postseason sweeps. The Lightning will play the winner of Halifax and the Island Storm in the NBL Finals.
The former Hopkins star was named the league’s Most Valuable Player, earlier this month. White set a new NBL record for triple-doubles in a season (five) and was named the league’s Player of the Week twice. His 19.7 points and 9.7 rebounds per game were among the top-five in league scoring and rebounds.
Esquire Magazine recently featured White as the “Most important basketball player alive.” While that might not be the case across all professional basketball leagues, it appears to be true in the NBL.
More on Bennett's championship run:
(Bennett pictured on the far left posing with the trophy.)