Lebanese star Fadi al-Khatib: Pistons want to sign me this summer

Dany Abboud of Lebanon’s The Daily Star (I am a GM):

Is Fadi al-Khatib NBA material? It’s a question that has been continuously asked by basketball fans on the internet, considering his huge contribution to the success of the Lebanese national team over the past 10 years.

The answer to the question has come from the Detroit Pistons, who have recently been exchanging emails with Fadi, as “The Tiger” confirmed to The Daily Star in a phone call. A contract may be signed as early as this summer.

“It’s true. I have been exchanging emails with Joe Dumars [Detroit Pistons’ President], who has asked me to come in summer,” revealed Khatib, who is 32 years old.

He added: “I don’t know yet if I am going. Playing in the NBA is something professional players dream of, but I have a family and I am starting a new project here.”

I’ve never heard of Khatib, and when I first read this report, I figured he was a young big man. He’s neither, actually a 32-year-old 6-foot-6 guard/forward – but I still hope the Pistons sign him, anyway.

Jonathan Givony and Kristian Hohnjec of Draft Express evaluated al-Khatib before the 2006 FIBA World Championship in Japan:

While we don’t know much about the Lebanese national team, one thing we do know is that their star player is undoubtedly Fadi El Khatib.

In September of 2003, the Los Angeles Clippers inked him to the one year non-guaranteed contract that is standard for players invited to come to training camp. The Clippers then waived him just a day later when they found out that he actually is under contract with his team in Lebanon. El Khatib reportedly could not resolve a buyout with his team, Sagesse Beirut, at the time, which has forced him to stay in obscurity for the last three years.

One year prior to that, he made a name for himself at the international level by averaging 17.6 points, 6.2 rebounds, 4.4 assists and 2.6 steals at the last version of the World Championships in Indianapolis. Despite his excellent individual showing there, Lebanon finished dead last in the tournament. This year, the bookmakers so far are predicting a similar fate. If El Khatib can hope them avoid that and continue to put up the type of impressive numbers he did in Indianapolis four years ago, this time at the ripe age of 27, a shot at the NBA or at least a contract with a top European league could very well still be in his future.

Luis Fernández and Hohnjec followed up with a brief post-tournament assessment:

Fadi El Khatib is very decent scorer, but others players are of amateurish quality.

Without knowing anything more about him, al-Khatib is a potential difference maker, and the Pistons desperately need more difference makers. In all likelihood, at his age, al-Khatib will be no better than someone like Damien Wilkins. But Wilkins’ value is already clear at this point, and his upside is practically non-existent.

Bad teams like the Pistons need to take chances on high-upside players like al-Khatib.

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