SBD/July 11, 2011/Leagues and Governing Bodies

NBA Lockout Watch, Day 11: Williams Thinks CBA Could Send Stars Overseas

Nets G Deron Williams believes that if the NBA owners "break the players and get" the new CBA they are pushing for, "some stars could opt to play overseas long-term," according to Chris Broussard of ESPN.com. Williams, who plans to play next season in Turkey if the NBA misses games, said that any CBA that "would leave stars such as Kobe Bryant making only $11 million a year -- the owners have proposed cutting players' salaries by roughly a third -- could open the door for an unprecedented exodus to Europe." Williams: "If the proposal (the owners) have, if that's what they're sticking with and that's what they want, then I think it would be hard for a lot of guys to come back to the NBA." He said that he "spoke with the union before agreeing to play in Turkey to make sure he wasn't damaging its cause," adding that NBPA Exec Dir Billy Hunter "was in favor of the move." Williams estimates that he has "heard from 10 to 15 other players, some of them superstars, since his decision to play overseas became public." He said that "many players are willing to follow his lead." Williams: "I don't want to sit around. That's what the NBA wants us to do right now. They locked us out of our gyms, they locked us out of facilities" (ESPN.com, 7/9). The AP's Andrew Seligman reported Heat G Dwyane Wade "could see himself and other NBA stars eyeing an overseas contract if the lockout drags on." Wade on Friday said, "If there's an opportunity there, I'd consider it" (AP, 7/8). Knicks G Landry Fields "thinks more players -- especially superstars -- may follow" Williams and play overseas during the lockout. Fields said, "It's more applicable to superstars, but I'm sure there will be other guys who are not necessarily All-Stars who will do something like that." On Friday, former NBAers Sonny Weems and Darius Songaila both signed deals to play in Europe (ESPNNY.com, 7/8).

NOT SO FAST: In N.Y., Fred Kerber noted some NBA players will go to Europe, "but that doesn't mean there are teams waiting with opens arms and checkbooks." Agent Mark Bartelstein said, "We're talking to a number of teams but it really is a case-by-case basis for individual players, where is he in his contract, where he is in his career." Agent Marc Cornstein, whose client Nenad Krstic signed a deal overseas, "does not foresee a long list of players flocking to foreign teams." Cornstein said, "I wouldn't say it's going to be an exodus, especially for the higher-end players. For starters, there are not enough overseas teams with the resources to afford a superstar of Deron Williams' caliber." Another agent said that his "main concern for any player who left to play for a foreign team would be regarding insurance" (N.Y. POST, 7/9). In Chicago, David Haugh wrote under the header, "Playing In Europe A Foolish Risk For NBA Stars." One agent "scoffed at the notion Williams was setting a trend other stars would follow," referring to Williams "as the exception, not the rule." Another agent "questioned whether the advice Williams was getting benefited the person as much as the player" (CHICAGOTRIBUNE.com, 7/9). Knicks F Amar'e Stoudemire on Saturday "put an end to any rumors that he would play basketball in Europe if the NBA's labor issues persist." Stoudemire on Twitter wrote, "Europe teams are calling, I think I'm going 2 stay here in the states" (N.Y. POST, 7/11). In Akron, Jason Lloyd writes, "Don’t expect too many stars to head overseas if this lockout extends to the regular season. There is simply too much money at stake in the NBA to risk injury elsewhere" (AKRON BEACON JOURNAL, 7/11).

Evans believes David Stern does well
to present owners as a united group
PLAYERS WEIGHING THEIR OPTIONS
: In N.Y., Howard Beck noted decertification, "coupled with an antitrust lawsuit," remains a "weapon in the basketball players’ arsenal should negotiations fail." NBPA outside counsel Jeffrey Kessler said, "It’s not off the table in any way. There’s no immediate urgency to that issue. It’s an option the players are actively considering. But they have time to decide whether it makes sense to end the union or not." He added, "One option available to NBA players is to end their union and seek an injunction against the NBA's lockout for all free agents and rookies. And that’s something that the players will consider in the future, with all of their other options, as things proceed.” Beck noted if the NBA players "do pursue an antitrust lawsuit, they are likely to use the NFL's case as a guideline and file in another jurisdiction, probably the Ninth Circuit in California, which is considered more liberal" (N.Y. TIMES, 7/10). Wizards G and NBPA VP Maurice Evans last week "candidly spoke about the labor situation" with SI.com's Sam Amick. Evans said, "The owners are very intelligent. Most of them own businesses, and they're very unified, and David Stern does a great job of making sure they keep a united front. It's easier for those guys to kind of manipulate the public to make their concessions seem bigger than they really are." He added, "It's unnecessary for us to be in this situation when a resolution is staring us right in the face. There's no reason we shouldn't be able to sit in a room and come up with a way to divvy up a pie that's worth more than $4 billion. It just doesn't make any sense" (SI.com, 7/8).

OWNERS VS. OWNERS: In N.Y., Mitch Lawrence reported the NBA lockout "isn't just a fight between billionaire and millionaire owners and millionaire players," but also one that "pits small-market owners against their big-market counterparts." The owners' "central case to the lockout -- that 22 of the NBA's 30 teams are losing money and that players should have to take an annual $800 million pay cut to help stop the flow of red ink -- has shifted some of the spotlight to the league's underfinanced, if not out-dated, revenue-sharing plan, along with the growing disparity between big-market and small-market clubs." Owners remain "divided on a new revenue-sharing plan." NBA Commissioner David Stern has promised a "more robust" revenue-sharing model. But Lawrence noted "who puts in what and how the money is divided is still being worked out." One league source said, "Small-market owners are watching how it plays out very carefully." League sources indicated that the Knicks, Lakers and Bulls "don't like the idea of having to contribute more money." But in his league of "have and have-nots, Stern sees the need to take care of small-market teams, more than ever before." Stern said, "We're going full-speed ahead with revenue-sharing. There are certain issues that have to be vetted. There will be spirited debate. But everybody knows there is going to be much more robust sharing" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 7/10).

SPORTS GUY’S SOLUTION: GRANTLAND.com's Bill Simmons offers an extensive solution to the NBA lockout and wrote the lockout “will stretch into November, then December, with the players panicking a little more each day." Simmons: "By the end of January, the players will cave: You'll see a 50/50 BRI split, four-year deals (none longer), a slightly harder cap (thanks to the abolition of midlevel exceptions and Larry Bird rights), the end of the luxury tax and a 50-game season that blows just as much as the last lockout season did. Team Stern's concession will be a five-year deal through 2016, right when the NBA's television deal expires, preventing it from getting screwed if the league rakes in more TV money than anyone expects.” Simmons added, “David Stern will always be my favorite commissioner ever, but his lack of resourcefulness during these past few years has been somewhat appalling. He's starting to resemble Larry O'Brien. ... The league can't fix its small-picture issues unless it's addressing the big-picture ones, too. Can Stern even see that anymore?” (GRANTLAND.com, 7/8).

NEXT IN LINE? In Orlando, Brian Schmitz noted Bucks G and NBPA VP Keyon Dooling "would be a terrific choice to succeed" Lakers G Derek Fisher some day as NBPA President, but Dooling insists that he "doesn't have interest in the job." He said, "I don't have any plans to replace Derek Fisher." He jokingly added, "He might play longer than I will" (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 7/10).
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