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Ex-Bulls Top Pick Signing With International Team



Former NBA shooting guard Denzel Valentine has reportedly discovered a new basketball home. The vet is continuing his pro hoops career overseas. According to Sportando’s Kevin Martorano, the 6’4″ wing has agreed to a rest-of-year deal with LBA Italian professional basketball club Olimpia Milano.

Valentine, now 30, was a four-year player at Michigan State University under Tom Izzo, where he enjoyed his most success in the game. The Spartans made the Big Dance in each of Valentine’s four seasons, from 2012-16. The club posted a cumulative 112-36 record during that timespan. As far as March Madness success is concerned, they got as far as the Final Four in 2014-15, when Valentine was a junior. During his decorated MSU tenure, Valentine was a Third-Team and First-Team All-Big Ten honoree, a consensus first-team All-American, the 2016 Big Ten Player of the Year, the 2016 Associated Press Player of the Year, the 2016 NABC Player of the Year, and the winner of the 2016 Julius Erving and Lute Olson Awards.

The Chicago Bulls selected Valentine with the No. 14 pick in the 2016 draft, at the tail end of that year’s lottery. He was chosen far ahead of All-Stars Pascal Siakam (the 27th pick) and Dejounte Murray (29th). Valentine struggled through major injury issues when at the NBA level. He underwent surgeries on his left knee and left ankle while still on his rookie-scale contract with Chicago. The ankle issue was severe enough that he kept him completely sidelined during the team’s 2018-19 season run.

He inked a $4.6 million qualifying offer with Chicago for his fifth pro season in 2020-21, becoming an unrestricted free agent in 2021. Valentine would go on to sign a minimum deal with the Cleveland Cavaliers. He was flipped to the New York Knicks in a three-team deal with the Los Angeles Lakers in January 2022, but was cut before he could play a game with New York. He inked a 10-day deal with the Utah Jazz, before ultimately landing with the Boston Celtics’ G League affiliate club, the Maine Celtics, to close out the season. Valentine stayed on with Maine in 2022-23.

Landry Shamet #20 of the Brooklyn Nets goes to the basket as Lauri Markkanen #24, Thaddeus Young #21, and Denzel Valentine #45 of the Chicago Bulls defend during the second half at Barclays Center on…

Getty Images/Sarah Stier

Through 256 total regular season NBA games (45 starts), Valentine boasts averages of seven points on .394/.360/.787 shooting splits, 3.3 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 0.6 steals per bout. Much celebrated as a multi-positional distributor and shooter, Valentine never quite seemed to have the athleticism or quickness to truly compete at the NBA level across his five pro seasons. And just like that, it was over.

Valentine signed on with the Sydney Kings for the duration of the 2023-24 season. Per Maggi, he posted averages of 12.2 points, 5.3 rebounds and 3.9 assists while with Sydney. It will be intriguing to see how he does with Olimpia Milano.