Mehmet Okur

There have been rumblings during the summer that Utah Jazz center Mehmet Okur might head to his native Turkey to play basketball during the NBA lockout. This has now reportedly become a reality.

According to Jody Genessy of the Deseret News:

The Utah Jazz center signed a contract today to play for Turk Telekom Ankara and will begin participating with the team from his country immediately, Okur’s agent Marc Fleisher told the Deseret News.

Okur’s contract includes a provision that will allow him to leave the Turkish team to return to the Jazz when and if the NBA lockout ends this season.

Fleisher said Okur, who is under contract with Utah through the end of the 2011-12 season, has recovered from his back issue and the left Achilles tendon injury that limited his court time last year.

“He’s healthy enough to play now,” Fleisher said.

And Brian T. Smith of the Salt Lake Tribune (blog) reports:

“He didn’t feel that the option to go play in pick-up games are what he needed,” said Fleisher, who stated that Okur is close to 100-percent health and will be insured while playing overseas. “He choose this and it’s a good team. He knows the league very well and it’s a good opportunity for him to play at a high level. And when the lockout ends, he’ll come back and be rearing to go.”

Okur must first handle a minor visa issue before joining Turk Telekom, and could meet up with ex-Jazz guard Deron Williams while in Turkey.

Okur played just 13 games last season for the Jazz and was barely a factor on the court, averaging 4.9 points and 2.3 rebounds in 12.9 minutes per game. But perhaps, as his agent says above, Okur has regained full health. In which case he might as well go play some basketball and enjoy his home country a bit longer.

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