UNICS boss: Lockett, Ejim to stay, Colom doubtful

EuroLeague Basketball
Unics Kazan defeated Panathinaikos 83-81 in Round 12 when they last met. Photo: EuroLeague Basketball

UNICS Kazan will exercise the option to extend current deals with U.S. shooting guard Trent Lockett and Canadian small forward Melvin Ejim throughout the 2018/19 season, the Tatarstan-based club’s President Yevgeny Bogachev told Izvestia daily newspaper.

“Lockett will stay with UNICS next season. The same goes for Ejim. I think we will be able to negotiate their contract extensions soon,” Bogachev said.

Both players were important pieces in the squad that finished the VTB League’s regular season as runner-up with a 22-2 record en route to clinching the Final Four. Eventually, UNICS was only a win short of making the 2018/19 edition of the Turkish Airlines Euroleague, losing to Khimki Moscow region in the decisive F4 semifinal.

In 2017/18, defensive specialist Lockett, 27, was scoring 8.8 points per game, grabbing 4.2 rebounds and making 1.8 assists.

Twenty-seven-year-old Ejim averaged 9.4 points over 30 games and was the team’s second-best rebounder behind Stephane Lasme, grabbing 5.2 boards per game. The highlight of Ejim’s season was undoubtedly his buzzerbeater in overtime that helped UNICS win a tough away Game 3 in the quarterfinals against Nizhny Novgorod on May 28. UNICS then won Game 4 at home to close the series 3-1.

Meanwhile, the contract extension of another important UNICS player, Andorra-born point guard Joaquin “Quino” Colom who also holds Spanish citizenship, is doubtful. His current deal is expiring, and, according to Bogachev, resigning him could be a challenge from the financial standpoint.

“We are thinking about Colom’s new contract. If the player’s agents decrease their appetite regarding his salary, we may retain the Spaniard. But if they continue to insist on a significant raise, we will most likely go separate ways,” explained Bogachev.

Last season, 29-year-old Colom averaged 12.9 points per game in the VTB league. He was also the third-best passer dishing out 5.93 assists per game, and trailing only the passing king Codi Miller-McIntyre of Parma Basket Perm (7.96 apg) and Avtodor Saratov’s Justin Robinson (7.04 apg).