10 Biggest Moves To Start The Offseason

The 2015-16 season is behind us and the basketball world has moved on. Behind the scenes, front offices across the league are working hard to get ready for the upcoming campaign. A month and a half into the offseason, VTB-League.com brings fans an in-depth look at the biggest moves thus far in free agency.

Double Strike: James Augustine to CSKA

Former Club: Khimki (Russia)
2015-16 VTB United League Stats:
10.0 points, 5.7 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 1.2 steals

CSKA stormed through Europe and the VTB United League last season, lifting two trophies in a historic campaign. Management was determined to keep the team together and passed with flying colors, but couldn't resist bringing in some fresh blood, too. After struggling at times last year in the frontcourt, the Army Men decided to sign James Augustine, a move that could benefit the team in multiple ways.

To begin with, the mobile, athletic big man fits in beautifully with the Red-Blue system, which likes to push the pace and run the pick-and-roll. Augustine led Khimki in efficiency rating last season in the Euroleague (16.8, 8th overall; 15.2 in the VTB United League), while shooting a Euroleague-best 68.8% from inside the arc (66.7% in the VTB United League). Alongside superstar guards Milos Teodosic and Nando De Colo, Augustine has a good opportunity to repeat, if not exceed, those numbers in 2016-17. He won the League's Sixth Man of the Year award in 2014, so he's comfortable starting on the bench or in the lineup. Finally, by picking up the 32-year-old American, CSKA guarantees that Augustine will never inflict such pain on the club again.

By signing one of its rival's biggest stars and strengthening its frontcourt, CSKA scores an impressive double strike.

Return: Sergey Karasev to Zenit

Former Club: Brooklyn (NBA)
2015-16 Season Stats:
2.4 points, 1.5 rebounds, 0.9 assists

Sergey Karasev was named the League's Young Player of the Year in 2013, then got selected 19th by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2013 NBA Draft. But not everything went as planned across the ocean. Injuries, limited time on the court and predictions of a return to Russia... Karasev, unfortunately, struggled to make much of a splash in the NBA.

The talented sniper has reached a turning point in his career. It's to prove himself on the court and Zenit should be an ideal landing spot. His dad, Vasily Karasev, is the head coach and knows how to get the most out of his son. St. Petersburg's run-and-gun offense fits Karasev's playing style and the club's ambitions are a good match as he looks to prove his critics wrong.

Step Forward: Semyon Antonov to CSKA

Former Club: Nizhny Novgorod (Russia)
2015-16 VTB United League Stats:
12.4 points, 4.9 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 1.3 steals, 1.0 blocks

Back in 2011, Semyon Antonov said that he would refuse an offer from CSKA, but five years later, he's put on the Red-Blue jersey. Don't expect him to get called out for it, though. Antonov had a terrific run with Nizhny Novgorod: from a debut in the Russian PBL to ultimately reaching the Euroleague Top 16 and VTB United League finals. He became a member of the national team while playing for Nizhny Novgorod and now he's ready to make the leap to CSKA.

Nizhny is undergoing a major transformation and it's hard to imagine a better time for making the jump. The ex-Nizhny captain will face stiffer competition and more responsibility at CSKA. Antonov says he's ready to fill any role, while Itoudis's interest in him since 2014 and Nikita Kurbanov's success with the Army Men are reason to be optimistic that one of Russia's hardest working players will take another step forward with the champs.

A New Fortson? Branden Frazier to Avtodor

Former Club: Khimik (Ukraine)
2015-16 FIBA Europe Cup Stats:
15.3 points, 5.6 assists, 3.4 rebounds, 1.2 steals

During his stint at Avtodor, point guard Courtney Fortson was one of the League's most exciting players and a legit MVP contender. After he left in the summer of 2015, the Black-Whites failed to find an adequate replacement for the hugely popular fan favorite. Here's a new attempt. The Ukrainian league's best guard and finals MVP has plenty in common with the Saratov legend: he's competitive and explosive, finds a way to impact almost every play, and can distribute the ball. Frazier is a difference maker on the court and should fit in beautifully with Avtodor's up-tempo style, while earning the devotion of the Saratov fans.

New Start: Evgeny Voronov to UNICS

Former Club: Lokomotiv-Kuban (Russia)
2015-16 VTB United League Stats:
4.6 points, 1.8 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 1.1 steals

Evgeny Voronov had a rough start to the offseason. First, he wasn't named to the Russian national team's preliminary roster, with new head coach Sergei Bazarevich deciding that he didn't fit his vision for the team. Then he had the same thing happen at Lokomotiv-Kuban as the club decided not to extend his contract.

But things started to turn around in July. Voronov signed a contract with Euroleague-bound UNICS. The club has lofty ambitions and wanted Evgeny's energy, passion and scrappy attitude that have made him one of the League's top stoppers. Expect more of the same from Voronov in Kazan.

Landing Party: Dmitry Khvostov to Lokomotiv-Kuban

Former Club: Nizhny Novgorod (Russia)
2015-16 VTB United League Stats:
10.8 points, 1.8 rebounds, 6.0 assists, 1.1 steals

Known for developing Russian talent, Nizhny Novgorod signed Khvostov in 2013 from Khimki, helping him become a team leader and sought-after free agent. Last season, Khvostov had a 54-43-87 shooting line, and put together a solid performance for Russia at the 2015 EuroBasket. Loko believes he'll continue to improve in Krasnodar. Despite major changes, the Red-Greens are desperate to return to the Euroleague and improve on last season's quarterfinal exit in the League playoffs. Khvostov will play a key role in the upcoming campaign.

Khvostov was not the only ex-Nizhny player to join Loko. Evgeny Baburin and Vladimir Ivlev also made the move. Both players have made big strides in recent years and attract attention from the Russian national team. Baburin will give Loko another weapon on the perimeter, while Ivlev will help the Railwaymen under the basket.

LeBron's Friend: Dru Joyce to Tsmoki-Minsk

Former Club: Wuerzburg (Germany)
2015-16 Bundesliga Stats:
10.8 points, 2.4 rebounds, 6.8 assists

Dru Joyce may not be the biggest star to join the League, but he did grow up with LeBron James, watching the future 4-time NBA MVP develop as a superstar in Akron. He even appeared in the LeBron James documentary More than a Game and played with him on the St. Vincent-St. Mary high school team that won three state titles.

Fans across the League are already excited to see Joyce in person. It's unclear whether LeBron's high school pal can take Tsmoki-Minsk to a new level, but there's a good chance that the best player in the world will be rooting for the Dragons this season.

Home-Grown: Viacheslav Zaitcev to Khimki

Former Club: Krasny Oktyabr (Russia)
2015-16 VTB United League Stats:
10.9 points, 4.7 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 1.5 steals

Zaitcev began his career in Khimki's youth system, but decided to move elsewhere after failing to earn a spot on the senior team. Last season, Zaitcev signed with Krasny Oktyabr and enjoyed his best season yet in the VTB United League, averaging 10.9 points, 4.7 rebounds and 3.2 assists to draw the attention of his former club.

Now he's got a chance to prove himself at the highest level in Moscow Region. Dusko Ivanovic already knows that he's going to use Zaitcev to push the tempo, apply suffocating pressure on defense and help with the ball-handling. Boasting the 2015-16 VTB United League Play of the Year, Zaitcev is ready to bring his high-flying style to Khimki.

Latvian Connection: Ingus Jakovics to Nizhny Novgorod

Former Club: VEF (Latvia)
2015-16 VTB United League Stats:
7.0 points, 1.5 rebounds, 2.0 assists

Jakovics is one of the most talented and promising point guards in Latvia. It's key that Arturs Stalbergs has been charged with helping him uncover his full potential. The new Nizhny head coach watched Jakovics grow from a sports academy talent to a member of the national team, including their time together on the Latvian youth team, which won silver at the 2013 European championships. Jakovics was a leader on that team, averaging 13.6 points, 3.5 assists, and 2.5 rebounds. Don't be surprised if the 23-year-old point guard puts up similar numbers for the Black-Whites.

Mr. Double-Double: Frank Elegar to Enisey

Former Club: Ankara (Turkey)
Turkish League Stats:
9.8 points, 7.6 rebounds, 0.7 blocks, 0.8 steals

Elegar is another familiar face in the VTB United League. The VTB United League's 2014-15 rebounding leader helped Kalev enjoy a breakout season, teaming up with Scott Machado to create a deadly pick-and-roll and alley-oop threat. The athletic big man even had an opportunity to join Milan midway through the season that he couldn't turn down. Now, after spending a year in Turkey with Ankara, Elegar is back in the League. Enisey made a big move on the market, hoping to contend for a playoff spot with Mr. Double-Double in the frontcourt.