SBD/August 16, 2011/Leagues and Governing Bodies

NBA Lockout Watch, Day 47: China Likely To Forbid NBAers With Out Clauses

Chinese Basketball Association officials "will likely pass a rule in the middle of this week forbidding the signing of players with NBA opt-out clauses," according to Adrian Wojnarowski of YAHOO SPORTS. Chinese officials "want to derail the prospect of rent-a-players for the lockout." That would leave a "far smaller pool of NBA free agents available to sign, and those players will have to commit to playing a full season in the Far East." The NBA has a "cozy relationship with China, a partnership worth a great deal of money for both sides." Privately, some agents and officials "wonder how much the NBA could be influencing China to steer clear of players under contract." With the European market "so lean, China offers NBA stars the best chance, the most leverage, to recoup a fraction of the money they’ll lose once the checks stop coming in November." Agents are "confused over how rigid the ruling could be, because some Chinese owners have privately insisted they could find ways to creatively structure contracts to get around it." Sources said that Shanxi has been the "most aggressive Chinese team in pursuing NBA talent ... and has made players offers of well over $1 million per month." Lakers G Kobe Bryant's "stature and popularity make him unique, and teams have shown a willingness to meet his demands to play in China." Nike also is "motivated to get him on the floor" because Bryant "pushes product in the Far East, perhaps unlike any of his peers" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 8/15).

Deal for Durant to play for Turkish team
could include merchandise revenue
BRAND BUILDING: TRUE HOOP's Henry Abbott noted the CBA gives the league "significant power to make money from selling NBA merchandise all over the globe, and from the globalization of basketball generally." All that is "different now, however, because the CBA is not in effect." Thunder F Kevin Durant's agent, Aaron Goodwin, said that "when all factors are taken into account, NBA players can 'absolutely,' make as much money playing overseas as they do in the NBA." Goodwin said that "no deal has been struck, but Durant is 'very interested' in ongoing talks with Turkey's Besitkas." Goodwin: "I have always seen overseas markets as huge opportunities for NBA players, but to do it properly, where the players shared in the licensing and marketing. These opportunities did not exist. The players' ability to openly explore overseas relationships was primarily through programs run by the NBA or endorsement relationships. Because of the lockout, there is a window for the players to explore these opportunities for themselves and expand their own brands." Henry noted by signing with a Turkish team, Durant "could be well positioned to sell a lot of, for instance, Besitkas Durant jerseys in Turkey and beyond." But "instead of seeing pennies on the dollar from such sales, he can negotiate a fat chunk of the revenue from those merchandise sales." In addition, Durant "could open new potential to become a pitchman for Turkish products, marketed in Turkey" (ESPN.com, 8/15).

ONLY A MATTER OF TIME? In Portland, Kerry Eggers wondered if NBPA Exec Dir Billy Hunter is "acting in the best interest of the majority of players, who can’t afford to lose a full season -- a major percentage of the average career." Several former players said that Hunter is "charismatic and knowledgeable." One said that he is "enough of a 'wild card' that he comes off as a bit scary to the league, a good thing for the players." But the owners "hold all the cards in this standoff," and the players "can't win." Eggers: "The losses will begin mounting. The owners have all the leverage. It may not seem like it through the dog days of August, but for the players, the clock is ticking" (PORTLAND TRIBUNE, 8/14).

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