NBA Lockout Watch, Day 22: Players Await FIBA Ruling Before Making Overseas Decisions
There has not "been even a trickle of top players" who are looking to follow Nets G Deron Williams to Europe, and NBA agents have indicated that it is because "no one is quite sure yet whether the contract that Williams signed will be held as legal by FIBA," according to Sean Deveney of SPORTING NEWS. One agent said, "Everybody is waiting to see what happens with Williams. If FIBA says it’s not a legal contract, everybody’s going to have to go back to the drawing board. You never know with this kind of thing. There’s no need to start looking for a contract for NBA guys if you’re not sure they can have that out clause." Deveney reports the "out clause is the issue that is being considered with the Williams deal" to play for Turkish club Besiktas. FIBA could determine that "such a clause is illegal, on the grounds that it detracts from the stability of the Turkish league." FIBA is expected to rule "within 10 days" (SPORTINGNEWS.com, 7/22). However, ESPN.com's Chris Broussard reported one prominent NBA agent is "completely sold on the idea of players competing for teams in Europe or Asia during the lockout." The agent estimated that 80% of NBA players "are pursuing, considering, or open to the idea of playing overseas." He said that agents "aren't being forthright publicly about their clients' desires to play overseas because there are only a limited number of opportunities available and they want to keep their negotiations secret." Still, Broussard noted "other agents weren't so high on the idea of playing overseas." Some believe that it "wasn't worth it for a superstar player with a large NBA contract to risk injury by playing overseas" (ESPN.com, 7/21).
SHOULD I STAY OR SHOULD I GO? Besiktas coach Ergin Ataman Thursday said that Lakers G Kobe Bryant's reps "have had conversations about a deal for him to play" for the Turkish club. Ataman said that the team is "trying to satisfy Bryant's salary demands so that he can join" Williams in Turkey. Ataman noted the money to pay Bryant's salary would come from the club itself and a "special sponsor that we are talking with." Bryant already has an endorsement deal with Turkish Airlines. Ataman said that Bryant, like Williams, would "have an opt-out clause to leave Besiktas when the NBA lockout ends" (L.A. TIMES, 7/22). Player agent Mark Bartelstein said he is "aggressively pursuing opportunities" overseas for his clients, but added, "None of them are dying to go over there." Bartelstein: "They prefer for there to be an NBA season. My message to the players (is) that we need to be aggressive in looking for things." Pacers C Roy Hibbert said, "Right now my top option is to stay in the States. But if we don't have a season or we're missing many games, my agent has something set up for me to go over there" (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 7/22). Former NBAer Penny Hardaway said playing overseas during the lockout is "definitely not a good look." Hardaway: "It’s not a good look because it means you’re not caring about what’s going on over here, you’re just gonna go and make money. But hey, that’s the way it works. Every guy has a right to do whatever they want to do" (ORLANDOSENTINEL.com, 7/21). CBSSPORTS.com's Gregg Doyel wrote under the header, "Not Enough Euros In World To Make Stars Go Globe-Trotting" (CBSSPORTS.com, 7/21).