Ex-Knick Pablo Prigioni to Luca Vildoza: See you soon!

It takes one to know one.

Luca Vildoza just got the stamp of approval from Pablo Prigioni after the 25-year old Argentine signed a four-year, $13.6-million deal with the New York Knicks.

Prigioni was the first Argentinian point guard to suit up for the Knicks. As the NBA’s oldest rookie in history at 35 years old, Prigioni helped New York reach the second round of the playoffs in the 2012-13 season. It was the last time the Knicks made it to the postseason.

Eight years later, the Knicks are on the cusp of breaking the playoff drought and have signed another Argentinian point guard. But unlike Prigioni, who was in the twilight of his career then, Vildoza is entering his prime years.

The 25-year old Vildoza is about to follow Prigioni’s footsteps and hopes to leave a mark like his legendary compatriot. 

Prigioni, who is now an assistant coach with the Minnesota Timberwolves, shares the excitement of the Knicks fans on Vildoza’s decision to take his act to the NBA.  

“Congratulations on your four years of constant growth in Baskonia, and I’m sure you are going to do great here, Prigioni wrote on Vildoza’s heartfelt parting shot with Baskonia on his Instagram. “See you soon!”

Ultimate Dream

Before leaving for the NBA, Vildoza delivered an ACB Spanish League title to Baskonia last year and was named the Finals MVP.

Prigioni also won several titles for Baskonia before heading to the NBA. He returned to Baskonia and retired there following a four-year NBA stint. For Vildoza, who admires Prigioni growing up, leaving Baskonia was bittersweet.

“Making the decision to leave has not been easy at all, Vildoza wrote. “However, I have to take the step. Being able to play in the NBA for me is the ultimate dream. It was what I projected when I was a child and played in the room at home with my father. I want and need to realize the utopia. And measure myself.”

Vildoza will have the entire offseason to measure himself to the Knicks standards before the team can guarantee the second year of his contract. He is not expected to play with the season already coming to a close. But they are invested in him moving forward as signing him cost a $2-million buyout with his Spanish club.

Vildoza on Kobe Bryant and Lakers’ radar in 2019

The 6-foot-3 Vildoza will also suit up for the Argentia national team in the Olympics. It was in the 2019 FIBA World Cup where Vildoza started to get into NBA’s radar.

Vildoza was one of the two Argentines that caught the fancy of the late Kobe Bryant.

Los Andes, an Argentinian publication, reported in 2019 that Bryant called the Los Angeles Lakers people and toyed with the idea that Vildoza and Gabriel Deck should play for his former team at some point.

Bryant was said to be enamored by “the speed of the point guard (Vildoza) and his launching mechanics with agile movements plus the aggressiveness.”

Deck recently signed a similar four-year deal with the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Knicks didn’t waste any time to lock up Vildoza before the Lakers, and several NBA teams get into him in the offseason.

Octagon’s Alex Saratsis, whose clients include Knicks’ Alec Burks, the Antetokounmpo brothers, Bam Adebayo, and Vildoza’s Argentina national teammate Facundo Campazzo, negotiated the deal.

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Report: Knicks, Vildoza agree in principle to 4-yr deal worth $13.6M

Luca Vildoza, knicks

The New York Knicks have successfully lured Argentinian guard Luca Vildoza to take his act to NBA.

Vildoza has agreed to a four-year, $13.6 million with the last three years partially guaranteed, according to an ESPN report.

The 6-foot-3 guard will fly to New York once he clears immigration protocols. While there’s no clear timetable yet, he is expected to fully participate in the next NBA Summer League and training camp.

Vildoza, last year’s Finals MVP of the Spanish ACB, will also suit up for Argentina in the Tokyo Olympics, giving Knicks more time to evaluate him.

Vildoza averaged 10.1 points, 3.5 assists with Baskonia in the Euroleague this season while hitting 38 percent of his threes.

ESPN’s noted draft analyst Mike Schmitz praised the signing, adding that he’s a huge fan of Vildoza’s game.

“The Luca Vildoza signing is a huge deal for the Knicks. The 25-year-old Argentinian PG has been one of the most coveted guards in Europe for some time. Excellent pull-up game, creative PnR passer, feisty defender. Brings the Argentinian spirit to the floor,” Schmitz tweeted.

 

The Knicks plan to convert Jared Harper’s second 10-day contract into a two-way deal to make a roster spot for Vildoza.

The 25-year old Vildoza will follow the footsteps of Argentinian legend Pablo Prigioni, who was a member of the last Knicks team that went to the playoffs.

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Report: Knicks expected to sign Argentinian Luca Vildoza

Luca Vildoza, knicks

The last time the New York Knicks had an Argentinian point guard, they made it to the second round of the playoffs.

It may come full circle this season as they are reportedly eyeing to bring in Argentinian Luca Vildoza, the 2020 ACB Finals MVP.

The Knicks (34-28) currently sit at fourth seed in the Eastern Conference with 10 games left in their schedule.

Vildoza will be following the footsteps of Pablo Prigioni, who quarterbacked the last Knicks team that reached the playoffs in the 2012-13 season.

But unlike Progrioni who came to New York in the twilight of his career, Vildoza is just entering his prime years. The 6-foot-3 Vildoza went undrafted in 2017.

It is unclear whether the Knicks are planning to bring him in via a 10-day contract or a multi-year contract. As it stands, the Knicks have their roster complete with Jared Harper’s two-way deal recently converted to a 10-day contract. The Knicks, though, have an open two-way spot after electing not to sign Simi Shittu, per Ian Begley of SNY.

They can waive Harper and slide him back to their two-way spot if they plan to sign Vildoza to a 10-day or multi-year contract.

The 25-year old Vildoza led Baskonia to the ACB Spanish league title last year as he succeeded Facundo Campazzo as the Finals MVP. Campazzo has since hooked up with the Denver Nuggets.

Vildoza and Campazo were teammates in the Argentinian national team that grabbed the silver in the 2019 FIBA World Cup.

Hoopshype earlier reported that Vildoza and Baskonia have already reached buyout agreement further fanning the speculations that the Argentinian point guard is on his way to New York.

Eurosport commentator Chema de Lucas was the first to report on the Knicks’ last-minute attempt to bring Vildoza to the NBA.

Vildoza averaged 10.1 points, 3.5 assists with Baskonia in the Euroleague this season while hitting 38 percent of his threes.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo