SBD/August 11, 2011/Leagues and Governing Bodies

NBA Lockout Watch, Day 42: Owners May Not Be Threatened By Overseas Contracts

Several NBA players have signed contracts to play internationally during the league's lockout but the "overseas threat has done little to add urgency to the CBA negotiations," as NBA owners "simply aren't buying it," according to Sean Deveney of SPORTING NEWS. An NBA exec said, "I don't think (NBA) teams view this as a huge thing. There is a lot more to playing overseas than a lot of guys realize. It's not an All-Star Game. You're not going to be pampered." Deveney notes FIBA's "groundbreaking" approval of Nets G Deron Williams' contract to play for Turkish club Besiktas cleared the way for NBA players "to sign contracts with international teams even if those contracts include out clauses." But Deveney notes with the European economy "even shakier than the U.S.' at this point, how many teams will be in a financial position to give good contracts to players who could be part-timers? And, bear in mind, teams there are limited to two American citizens." Outside of Besiktas, there are "precious few teams being discussed as destinations for NBA stars." There is "money behind the Chinese Basketball Association, and the country's interest in the game has blossomed." But there are "only 17 teams in the league and the number of non-Asians allowed is limited." Additionally, there is "still the possibility that the Chinese league will not allow the out-clause contracts that FIBA approved in the Williams ruling" (SPORTING NEWS TODAY, 8/11). However, ESPN's Ric Bucher reported Bulls F Carlos Boozer can be added "to the list of NBA players looking to play overseas in light of the current NBA lockout." Boozer yesterday said being a member of the U.S. team that played in the '08 Beijing Games "changed my life." Boozer: "That's why, if the lockout continues, I definitely plan on playing overseas." A source indicated that Boozer's "reference to Beijing reflects an inclination to play in China" (ESPN.com, 8/10).

SOUND THE HORN: The topic of NBA players going overseas to play during the lockout was discussed on ESPN's "Around The Horn" yesterday. ESPN’s Michael Smith said the owners are not as worried about players playing abroad "as much as they were about the larger picture which is losing money.” Smith: “The owners are dug in to change the overall landscape of the NBA and that’s bigger than a handful of ... star players going overseas to play.” Denver Post columnist Woody Paige echoed that owners are not concerned, asking, "You think they’re so stupid that they didn’t realize that the players might actually have to go and play?” But Dallas Morning News columnist Tim Cowlishaw said, "All it’s going to take is one star player going somewhere, injuring a knee, doing whatever. We don’t know what the medical situation is going to be like over there." Meanwhile, ESPN's J.A. Adande referenced the Atlanta Spirit's recent deal to sell the Hawks and said, "It doesn’t matter how many players decide to go overseas. What matters is just one or two really rich men deciding to buy into the NBA." Adande: "Another person coming into this league despite the warnings of financial gloom and doom, willing to spend a reported $300 million to buy a team that really doesn’t knock them out at the box office. That lets you know that these owners are determined to get a return on investment” ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 8/10).

PLAYING WITH FIRE?
In Indianapolis, Mike Wells interviewed Pacers F Danny Granger about the NBA lockout, and Granger said of NBA Commissioner David Stern, "I feel like he's playing with fire a little bit." Granger: "He's taken such a hard stance on things. I read that he finally said he'd take a salary cut. Nobody knows how much he makes, though. That's the craziest thing I've heard. We've got 30 owners putting their faith in him to get the deal done and nobody knows how much he's getting paid. He's probably the most powerful guy of all the professional sports." Granger said the lockout will hurt the Pacers' development "bad." He said, "We should be piggy-backing off last year and building off of it." Meanwhile, he noted he has "saved so much money because we all knew this was a possibility" (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 8/11).
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