SBD/August 10, 2011/Leagues and Governing Bodies

NBA Lockout Watch, Day 41: Euroleague Clubs Wary Of Short Deals With NBAers

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).
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