Khazzouh courting NBA but Kings expect him back


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PURPLE-BLOODED Sydney Kings general manager Bob Turner expects US-bound centre Julian Khazzouh to return to Australia next season with intimate knowledge of what it takes to become the next Luc Longley in the NBA.

PURPLE-BLOODED Sydney Kings general manager Bob Turner expects US-bound centre Julian Khazzouh to return to Australia next season with intimate knowledge of what it takes to become the next Luc Longley in the NBA.

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Khazzouh, who has already signed with the Kings for 2011-12, leaves this week for Los Angeles, where he will meet his agent and travel to several cities for trials with NBA franchises. It will be an eye-opener for the 209-centimetre 25-year-old.

''Julian's great for Australia because he's rangy and a good athlete,'' Turner said.

''To go the NBA, he'd have to be [18 kg] heavier and just as agile. So the idea is to really just expose himself to those teams and understand what those guys do to reach that level. For instance, when Luc Longley came out of college he was a very slight centre. When he finished his career he was a seven-foot-two [215cm] man-mountain. He learned how to build his body and Julian would have to learn about that too.

''Unless something spectacular happens, we expect Julian to be a King next year. But if something did happen for him over there, it would be great for him, great for the game and great for Australia. He would join Andrew Bogut and Pat Mills on the world stage.''

The Kings ended their season on Friday night with a disappointing 96-79 loss to the Gold Coast Blaze. It consigned them to the wooden spoon, with eight wins and 20 losses.

Nevertheless, they continued to draw healthy crowds all season, including a bumper 9535 on Friday for the season swansong.

''Despite losses all year, including a 14-game losing streak, people voted that they like what we have to offer and they have a good time,'' Turner said.

''There's a lot of history and we've got back to the things that built the Kings - affordability, community, family - the things they stopped doing in the last decade.''

With the season over, the signings begin. ''There's a lot of players we want to keep from this campaign,'' Turner said.

''You've got to build stability and uniformity. From 20 years ago, people still remember names like Keogh, Morrissey, Dalton, Carfino and company.

''We're trying to get back to that with Khazzouh, Ben Madgen, Luke Martin, Graeme Dann - young quality players who you add to with your imports.

''The first piece was securing Moose [coach Ian Robilliard]. Now we're in the process of talking to our players and their agents about contracts. We hope to make some signings [from our own roster] in the next two weeks.''

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