It's Not Too Late to Keep Pops in the NBA
Pops Mensah-Bonsu is an insane athlete who attacks the rim like it insulted his mother. Unfortunately, guys like that with dreams of playing in the NBA are a dime a dozen, which is why he spent most of 2006-07 in the D-League (winning All-Star MVP honors along the way) and last season in Italy.
He's already agreed to a contract to play in Spain next year, but in a last-ditch effort to keep his NBA dream alive he's here in Las Vegas playing for Minnesota's summer league team. In three games, he's averaged 12 points and 4.7 boards in 23 minutes a game. I talked with Pops after his first game with the T'Wolves on Thursday about what his future holds and what his first impressions were of his summer league teammates.
Matt Watson: I was just reading that you signed with a team in Spain. What's going on with that?
Pops: I signed with a team in Spain a few days ago but they gave me an NBA out until July 22nd, so that's why I'm playing with the Timberwolves. If I get signed or picked up by an NBA team, they won't have to buy me out over there. I have until the 22nd to get signed. Hopefully that works out. If not, I have no problem going back to Spain.
MW: Have you heard anything about your future here?
Pops: It's kind of early, it's only my second game in Summer League. I got two more games to try and see what I can do to get back into the NBA, but like I said, if not, I'll go back to Spain and play another year there.
MW: Who's jumping out at you the most?
Pops: Kevin. (Laughter) I was overseas last year and I heard about him a lot. I never got to see him play, but playing alongside him is great because he demands so much attention, and for good reason. I think he's a great player, great rebounder, he's a really smart player.
If you've seen some of the outlet passes he throws, it's amazing. He just makes everybody else's job on the court easier. He stole a couple of my rebounds tonight, but that's okay. That's one thing you can't be selfish about when it comes to rebounding. I think he's going to be a great player. We'll see what happens in the future.
MW: Is he your early pick for Rookie of the Year.
Pops: Yes, I think so. Just by what he's doing and just by how dominant he can be. He's only – what is he 20, 21 years old, if that? (MW: 19) 19? Oh, my fault. Yeah, he's 19. I think for years to come, once he learns the NBA game a little more, he's going to be a force to reckon with, I definitely think so.