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SBD/August 10, 2011/Leagues and Governing BodiesPrint All
Euroleague President & CEO Jordi Bertomeu said that the league “does not anticipate its clubs signing players who have existing NBA contracts during the lockout,” according to Ian Thomsen of SI.com. Bertomeu said, “No team will sign a player for only two or three months, or for an uncertain period of time. This is our forecast." The Euroleague is the “world's No. 2 basketball competition, offering salaries that are second only to those paid by the NBA.” Euroleague clubs are “wary of investing in NBA talent because of a recent ruling by FIBA” that enables players “to return to North America and fulfill their existing contracts should the NBA resume play midseason.” Bertomeu said, "Never in the FIBA history has there been any condition like this. This is very strange." Bertomeu “raised the possibility that FIBA negotiated the terms of its ruling with the NBA.” Bertomeu: "We were asking FIBA for their position since the month of May, pending the official announcement of a definitive lockout. The day after the NBA lockout announcement, FIBA should have stated their position. And it took a month.” He added, "I don't think that FIBA took this position without an agreement with the NBA." An NBA official said that the league “had no such discussions with FIBA, which is notoriously deliberate in its decision-making.” Thomsen noted Turkish club Besiktas, which has an agreement with Nets G Deron Williams to play during a lockout, is “a second-tier organization that is not among the 24 clubs in the Euroleague.” There is still the “question of whether European clubs can afford to pay big salaries to NBA players amid the worldwide recession and the financial crisis in Greece that threatens to spread to other countries in Europe” (SI.com, 8/9).
DURANT NEXT TO GO? Goodwin Sports Management CEO Aaron Goodwin yesterday said that Thunder F Kevin Durant is “in the early stages of contract negotiations” with Besiktas. Goodwin said that he has met with Besiktas officials and “has likewise begun exploring opportunities for Durant in Spain and Russia.” He added that “playing in China is not something Durant is considering at this time.” Goodwin said that another one of his clients, Hawks G Jamal Crawford, has “also attracted interest from teams in Turkey” (ESPN.com, 8/9). CAA Sports’ Henry Thomas, whose agency represents the Heat's Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh, yesterday said that “none of those three clients have received overseas offers and that none are actively seeking such opportunities.” Thomas said, "One of the elements that you look at when you're evaluating the opportunities that come to you is the risk, and that's going to be a significant piece that will have to be evaluated." Still, Wade yesterday said, "I'm going to play basketball this year. I don't know where, but I love the game so much that I will play it. And we will figure that out" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 8/10).
OTHER POTENTIAL DEALS: German newspaper Bild reported that Mavericks F Dirk Nowitzki “has been offered $1.5 million per month to play for the Zhejiang Lions of the Chinese Basketball Association” (DALLASNEWS.com, 8/9). Courtney Barnes, publicist for Ron Artest, said that the Lakers F “will be in the United Kingdom from Aug. 18 to 23 to speak with officials with the British Basketball League's Cheshire Jets about possibly playing overseas with them during the NBA lockout.” A source said that a deal “has not been finalized” (LATIMES.com, 8/9). In Orlando, Zach McCann notes free agent F Earl Clark is “considering leaping to China.” Sources said that he is “in talks with Zhejiang of the Chinese Basketball Association.” The deal with Zhejiang is reportedly “in the high six figures,” and “would not include an NBA-out clause.” Clark last season “earned approximately $1.8 million” (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 8/10).
DELAYING THE FLOW FROM EUROPE: The Euroleague's Bertomeu indicated that the league is “hoping the ongoing labor negotiations may enable young European players to postpone their move to the NBA.” Bertomeu said that he met with NBA Commissioner David Stern “approximately a year and a half ago to discuss ways to help prevent young Europeans from moving to the NBA prematurely.” Bertomeu: "We can't give too many concrete details. But part of the proposal included a formula that included the elements of age, rookie salaries and how the rookie salaries computed into the salary cap. It was designed to create an incentive for the players to stay in Europe" (SI.com, 8/9).
The start of the EPL season is "under threat after further rioting in Manchester and the West Midlands last night undermined an earlier claim by the league authorities that no games outside London were under threat from public disorder," according to Sam Wallace of the London INDEPENDENT. The EPL, which is scheduled to begin its regular season Saturday, in a joint statement with the Football League early yesterday afternoon said there was "no reason to think any matches outside of London will be affected." However, as disturbances grew in Manchester, Salford and West Bromwich last night, it "raised the question whether police resources would be able to cope" with this weekend's games. The EPL last night said that it was "waiting for clubs to liaise with their respective police forces before making any decision." The league and the Football League "want a decision by the end of tomorrow at the latest on whether games will go ahead." All decisions "will be based primarily on police resources." In the Football League, there are "five London clubs playing at home over the weekend in the three divisions." They also will "seek police advice before deciding whether to go ahead with their fixtures, depending on the situation over the next few days." The latest developments followed the FA taking the "unprecedented step of cancelling" tonight’s England-Netherlands friendly at Wembley Stadium after Monday night's riots in London (London INDEPENDENT, 8/10). The TELEGRAPH's Winter & Wilson note if the police cannot guarantee "sufficient resources for a game then the clubs will not receive a safety certificate and will have no option but to postpone" (TELEGRAPH, 8/10). Tottenham players have "accepted that safety is paramount as the Premier League considers postponing games" (ESPNSOCCERNET.com, 8/9). Tottenham D Younes Kaboul said that the league "should strongly consider rescheduling" Saturday's game "for the sake of the fans if the ongoing situation fails to improve" (London DAILY MAIL, 8/10).
FOCUSED ON WHAT'S IMPORTANT: In London, Dart, Hobson & Slot note the concern with playing games this weekend is not only that the matches are "potential flashpoints in themselves, but that the police presence that is a prerequisite at any high-profile match cannot be guaranteed because officers may be needed elsewhere." Everton D Sylvain Distin said, "It seems unreal. Football right now is not the most important thing. I know the fans expect the season to start, but when you see what's happened, it's more important than whether the game's going to be on or not" (LONDON TIMES, 8/10). Also in London, Oliver Kay notes the riots have "struck a chord with England's footballers." Manchester United F Wayne Rooney yesterday on his Twitter feed wrote, "This is embarrassing for our country. Stop please" (LONDON TIMES, 8/10).
REASSURING TONE: U.K. Minister for Sport & Olympics Hugh Robertson yesterday assured reps from 200 countries that security plans for next year's London Games "will prove adequate in the wake of rioting across London and in areas around the main Olympic Park." Chef de missions from most competing nations' NOCs are in London for a "scheduled briefing," as is IOC Coordination Commission Chair Denis Oswald, who is "charged with overseeing the delivery of the Games." Robertson is adamant that the plan drawn up by the Metropolitan Police and security advisers is "robust enough and would cope were there to be trouble this time next year" (London INDEPENDENT, 8/10). The GUARDIAN's Richard Williams notes the Olympics "will take place during the school holidays, and the weather could well be warm: two features of this week's riotous events" (GUARDIAN, 8/10). However, British Olympic Association Head of Olympic Media & Communications Strategy Darryl Seibel said that he believes the "continued trouble should not affect preparations for the 2012 Games and even offers the opportunity for sport to heal some of the wounds caused by the current violence." Seibel: "It makes an Olympic Games and a Paralympic Games all the more important. We need a reason to come together" (London TELEGRAPH, 8/10).
ON WITH THE GAMES: In N.Y., Macur & Panner report the Olympic test events scheduled for London this week are "expected to go off as planned." The world badminton championships are being held in North London, a marathon swim will be held in Hyde Park Saturday and a cycling race will take place Sunday. A beach volleyball tournament that began at Horse Guards Parade yesterday was "pushed up by three hours so it could end by nightfall" (N.Y. TIMES, 8/10). Spanish volleyball player Alejandra Simon said, "Our parents are worried but we're not. This is one of the most amazing places I've ever played. There is a lot of security. We're feeling really comfortable" (LONDON TIMES, 8/10).
The Izod IndyCar Series “could soon experience financial setbacks" if Danica Patrick "changes racing series,” according to Curt Cavin of the INDIANAPOLIS STAR. Patrick reportedly may run a full NASCAR Nationwide Series schedule in '12, returning to IndyCar solely for the Indianapolis 500. When knee surgery knocked Tiger Woods "out of the second half of the 2008 golf season, the sport lost about half of its audience.” IndyCar, which “struggles for TV ratings, can't afford a similar drop when/if Patrick leaves.” Andretti Autosport Owner Michael Andretti last weekend said that the "loss of sponsorship associated with Patrick, coupled with the new equipment IndyCar teams have to buy for next season, likely will cut his program from four cars to three.” Cavin noted Patrick is open-wheel racing's “only household name, and several sponsorships are tied to her.” But some “argue that losing Patrick might not hurt IndyCar as much as feared,” as it “would allow other drivers to step into the spotlight.” Just Marketing Int’l Founder & CEO Zak Brown “believes Patrick's ability to help IndyCar peaked a couple of years ago.” Brown: "She's not drawing in new fans like she was three years ago." Cavin noted TV ratings “for most sports have dropped significantly in the past five years, making it difficult to gauge Patrick's impact coming or going.” IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard “wants to keep Patrick but said it's more important to the series" if her longtime sponsor GoDaddy.com “stays in some form” (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 8/9).
MIXED REACTION: SI.com’s Bruce Martin noted IndyCar drivers and execs “have mixed thoughts” about how Patrick leaving would impact the series. IndyCar in some ways “may actually benefit if Patrick leaves because many of its top drivers and great storylines have been overshadowed by her presence.” With just one career IndyCar win, Patrick's “actual accomplishments ... fall considerably short of her level of fame.” Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage said, "Danica means a great deal because she draws the spotlight and she is clearly the most popular driver in IndyCar racing so she is vitally important to IndyCars. But I can tell you we had the first race after her big breakthrough at Indy in 2005 and we didn't see ticket sales improve. One driver doesn't sell tickets; it takes all of them.” Driver Scott Dixon said, “I don't think it's a devastating blow but it is somewhat of a setback. Straight up, if the series had the option of her staying or going, they would want her to stay. I definitely wouldn't say it is a good thing.” Former driver Mario Andretti: "She is going to be missed, but if the series depended on one individual the series would be in trouble.” Bernard contends that IndyCar “will continue to grow with or without Patrick.” Bernard: "If you look at Michael Jordan -- the greatest of the greats -- it didn't bring the NBA down when he left. But the difference is a person like Wayne Gretzky or Michael Jordan was winning every single week. Danica's exposure has been built by GoDaddy ... but she has won one race. We need to remember (that is) what made Danica” (SI.com, 8/9).
In N.Y., Kevin Armstrong notes the NFL "intends to add game-day testing for performance-enhancing substances this season" under the new CBA. NFL Senior VP/Law & Labor Policy Adolpho Birch yesterday indicated that tests "weren't conducted in the past on days there were games due to 'logistical issues' more so than any 'philosophical issues.'" Birch added that the league "developed a test that should not interfere with the normal game-day preparations made by teams" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 8/10).
STALLING OUT: In Buffalo, Keith McShea wrote no sport "is more dependent on the economy than auto racing," so the "better business is for companies, the better business is for NASCAR." McShea: "When the economy is bad, major league sports might lose season ticket holders or luxury box rentals -- but it's rarely going to affect the actual product on the field. It's different in auto racing, where race teams are right now in limbo because of companies leaving NASCAR." Those pullbacks "are a sign that NASCAR's figurative stock may have hit an all-time high during the early 2000s, and NASCAR needs to realize that it might not get back there again." McShea added, "The foundering economy is certainly to blame, but that can't fully explain the television ratings dive in recent years" (BUFFALO NEWS, 8/9).
NEW CONCEPT: SCENEDAILY.com's Bob Pockrass reported that Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage and NASCAR Senior VP/Racing Operations Steve O'Donnell "had an informal discussion" during TMS' IndyCar weekend in June about whether the concept of running two Nationwide Series races in one night "could work." Pockrass noted it is "an idea that could shine a spotlight on the series." A "typical Texas race has been 300 miles, so it's likely splitting the event would result in two races of 150 miles." Gossage: "I haven't even talked to (NASCAR President) Mike Helton about it. Steve O'Donnell and I have had conversations. ... But that's the extent of it, just casual conversation. We haven't talked about it seriously for 2012" (SCENEDAILY.com, 8/6).