Cash isn't always king

Will Solomon says pride brought him back to North America after six years of playing basketball in...

Will Solomon says pride brought him back to North America after six years of playing basketball in Europe. (Sun Media/Ernest Doroszuk)

MIKE GANTER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 11:05 AM ET

OTTAWA -- There are plenty of sacrifices every player at Raptors camp has made to get to this point, but few can say they left close to $2 million on the table to come here.

Will Solomon, the man poised to take over the backup point guard duties to Jose Calderon, is a party of one in that regard.

At the age of 30, following six very successful years playing in Europe, Solomon wasn't necessarily looking to move back to the NBA where he had played one season, but the opportunity presented itself and suddenly the pull became just too great.

Solomon played a year with the Memphis Grizzlies before making the jump to Europe. With the Grizzlies, he was playing behind Jason Williams and Brevin Knight averaging 14 minutes a night.

"It was my decision to go to Europe," Solomon said. "I had an offer on the table from Memphis and Washington at the time but my agent and myself, we decided it was good money to go to Europe. In Memphis I was the third point guard ... and I wanted to play. I left school early but I wanted to play. There were a handful of teams in Europe where I could play 30 minutes a game, make a half million dollars and I said it was no-brainer."

Last season with Turkish club Fenerbahce Ulker, Soloman was the fourth-leading scorer in all of Euroleague. Solomon admits he never set out to stay in Europe for six years, but he found himself enjoying the European way of life. Being able to take care of his family financially and enjoy that lifestyle made it easy to grow roots.

In the end, it was his pride that brought him back to the NBA.

"I have been playing in Europe for six years and at this point in my career it's not about money," he said. "It's about being happy and trying to fulfil some of the goals I didn't fulfil as a basketball player. At this point in my career and at this age, it was just time for me to step back on an NBA floor. I had many opportunities to do so in the past but I think this situation and the organization and the atmosphere of the team is right. It's something I looked into (thoroughly)."

It's no secret the Raptors are the leaders among NBA teams when it comes to mining the European leagues for talent.

"I look at guys like Anthony Parker and Jorge Garbajosa and Calderon and they all played at a high level in the Euroleague for quite some years just like myself," Solomon said. "I looked at that and how successful their careers went in the NBA, and at this point in my career, I think this was the right opportunity for myself."

Solomon's move parallels the one former Maccabi Tel Aviv teammate Parker made before the '06-'07 season, although Parker is quick to point out he didn't leave money on the table like Solomon.

As for expectations in his return to the NBA, Solomon says his goal is a championship just like everyone else on the club. With regard to playing time, Solomon really has not set a goal.

"You have to start somewhere," he said. "This is an opportunity to be on the floor. I'll take things slowly and whatever happens, happens. I have a career in Europe and it's always in the back of my mind, but I'm here now and I just have to focus on what I have to do to stay healthy and stay on the floor."


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