China will wait. How Shved stayed in Khimki?

Alexey Shved Khimki
Photo: EuroLeague Basketball

The leader of the Russian national team remains in the club near Moscow

Khimki fans can finally breathe a sigh of relief. The spring-summer series about where the leader of the Russian team Alexey Shved will continue his career has come to an end. The point guard signed the three-year contract and now all the talk about his return to the NBA and thoughts about China are left behind. Although in the latter they almost convinced the Russians to accept their proposal.

Homeland factor

Like the main competitors from CSKA, the Moscow Region club, despite the crisis, decided to play long. CSKA gave three-year contracts to Mike James and Nicola Milutinov, and Khimki did not spare money for their main star – Alexey Shved. The basketball player kept last year’s salary and remained in the top 3 of the highest-paid players.

In addition to the amount of the contract, the emotional connection of the basketball player with the Russian club is important. In Khimki Shved is the undisputed leader: the head coach trusts the defender with all the decisive attacks, and outside the parquet crowds of fans are waiting for him. 

After each home match of the club near Moscow, Shved first signs autographs and takes pictures with the lucky ones who managed to wait for him in the games room and then in the parking lot. In addition, do not forget that he recently became a father. To bring a family with a one-year-old child to China, where a completely different life in terms of ecology and products is a big risk.

Shved is like a national hero in Russia. If you were to ask any child in the country, who he looks up to 99% the answer would be Alexey Shved. A prolific scorer is a fantastic player. His popularity has become so intense, that even the gambling industry, probably one of the most popular fields in the world, felt his presence. While online gambling in Russia is illegal people still find ways to access it and upon playing online slots for real money it was visible that actually some of the casinos started to embed Alexey Shved as one of the icons in their games. This little example is an additional indicator for his prowess and influence in sports in Russia.

Another point that the Shved probably kept in mind while remaining in Khimki was the Olympic qualification in Croatia, which was postponed due to the pandemic until next summer. The Chinese CBA season ends in February. Legionnaires after its completion usually go on vacation or try to sign a short-term contract with the NBA. In both cases, the story with the team would be for Alexei in limbo. Basketball players playing overseas with a high degree of probability will miss the Olympic qualification due to the coincidence of calendars. And to come to the training camp after three and a half months without playing practice is very dangerous in terms of getting injured. But next summer, the Shved may have the last opportunity to play at the Olympics.

Rimas Kurtinaitis

The re-signing of Shved means that Khimki will continue to set the highest goals. You can judge for yourself: the top point guard Stefan Jovic, the NBA finalist Jonas Jerebko, the Latvian shooters Janis Timma and Dairis Bertans, who finally adapted to European basketball, definitely remain in the team. Maintaining the starting center – Devin Booker – is a matter of the near future.

There are no questions on the Russian backbone either. Slava Zaitsev, Sergey Karasev and Evgeny Valiev under contracts, veterans Sergey Monya and Egor Vyaltsev are about to prolong their agreements. The trainer Rimas Kurtinaitis only needs to make point reinforcements, and Shved will again lead the team to the coveted titles.

The talk that the extension of the Swede contract with Khimki was a formal procedure is not entirely true. These were difficult negotiations that lasted several months. Moreover, the defender really had two real options on the side.

In addition to a very materially advantageous proposal from China, there was a chance to return to the NBA. However, after the League’s decision that the clubs would not be able to sign free agents for the 2019/20 season, this decision began to look dubious. Two teams were ready to wait for Shved in the free-agent market in October 2020, but in this case, the Russian would have received a solid contract.

X hour

The last time the club museum of yellow-blue was replenished in 2015. A few months before Shved returned from the NBA, Kurtianaitis and the company won the Euro Cup. It is time for Shved to also contribute to the history of the team. He has three years for this, which in essence will become decisive in the perception of the figure of Alexei in the history of European basketball.

He has long proved to everyone his outstanding individual abilities. The best sniper of Eurobasket 2017 and Euroleague 2017/18, the owner of many personal records of the main club tournament, MVP Eurocup. But there are not so many team titles in the career of the Swede. These are four victories in the Russian championship and the Euroleague 2007/08 win in CSKA, but then the defender was very young and received the minimum amount of playing time.

In the role of the leader, Shved so far has only silver medals. The former club stopped him in the final of the domestic championship for three consecutive years, and also knocked out of the historical playoffs of Euroleague 2017/18. Khimki fans may recall the ambiguous refereeing in the fourth match of that series – but this is already the past. Shved needs to break this sad tradition. In the 2019/20 season, COVID-19 prevented, in the new – everything is in his hands.