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).
NBPA Exec Dir Billy Hunter met with National Labor Relations Board officials Tuesday and Wednesday as part of the federal agency’s ongoing investigation into the union’s unfair labor practices charge it filed against the NBA. "We understand the investigation is about to end,” said Larry Katz, outside attorney for the NBPA, which filed the charge in May and is asking the NLRB to seek an injunction to end the NBA lockout that started on July 1. Katz said the purpose of Hunter’s interview with NLRB investigators was to respond to evidence the NBA presented refuting the union’s allegations that the league failed to bargain in good faith. The NBA has said the union’s charges are without merit and has filed its own charge against the NBPA, alleging the union has failed to bargain in good faith. The NBPA has said the league’s charge is without merit. Katz said the NLRB is working on a “separate track” on the NBA’s charge, which was filed earlier this month. NBA players are hopeful that the NLRB will make a decision within the next 30 days and will issue a complaint that could ultimately result in the board seeking an injunction in federal court to end the lockout, Katz said. But he acknowledged that the NLRB works on its own timetable. The NBPA has kept players and agents up to date on the ongoing NLRB investigation, according to player agent Bill Duffy. “We are in support of it and everyone is waiting to see what the ruling is,” Duffy said. He added that he had heard a decision could be made in as soon as two weeks, but Katz said that time frame was a bit ambitious.
EPL CEO Richard Scudamore said that Tottenham Hotspur's season-opening match against Everton Saturday at White Hart Lane "has been postponed because of the London riots," according to Geoffrey Riddle of the LONDON TIMES. The borough near Tottenham's stadium has "bore the brunt of the rioting," and the public disturbances "continued there until Tuesday morning." As a result of the destruction, there was "not enough time to clear and secure the main road or obtain a safety certificate for Saturday's match." With the rioting "spreading to cities such as Manchester, Liverpool and Birmingham, the police will continue to monitor the situation, especially Birmingham’s fixture at home to Coventry City on Saturday." The Metropolitan Police are "due to make a decision about the nine other" EPL matches later today (THETIMES.co.uk, 8/11). Scudamore "was 'positive' that the other nine fixtures in the opening round of top-flight games would go ahead." He said, "The very latest situation is that Tottenham and Everton has gone. The police have done a fantastic job, but it's been a crime scene all week and the council have not had enough time to do what they need. The other nine fixtures are looking positive, subject to any more trouble" (DAILYMAIL.co.uk, 8/11). EPL club Queens Park Rangers co-Owner Bernie Ecclestone before the announcement regarding the Tottenham-Everton game said that postponements "would send a 'terrible message' to the rest of the world" (London TELEGRAPH, 8/11).
In L.A., Bill Shaikin reports Angels Owner Arte Moreno, MLB Exec VP/Labor Relations & HR Rob Manfred, MLBPA Exec Dir Michael Weiner and others met "in a collective bargaining session" yesterday. Moreno also "attended the Angels' game at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday night" (L.A. TIMES, 8/11).
DELAY OF GAME: GOLFWEEK's Beth Ann Baldry notes the Imperial Springs LPGA event in China, which was "postponed indefinitely this year after a government crackdown on golf-course permits forced the LPGA's hand, will be played" Sept. 29-Oct. 2. However, "most of the American stars won't be there." The tourney is set for the week after the Solheim Cup, and players indicated that with the new schedule, "there's not enough time to launch what will now be a four-week Asian swing ... immediately after the Sept. 23-25 matches in Ireland." At least "seven of the top 10 players on the U.S. Solheim points list say they likely will skip the China event" (GOLFWEEK, 8/12 issue)
SHORTCUT: Pocono Raceway officials yesterday announced that the "distance for next year's two Sprint Cup events will be shortened from 500 to 400 miles." The 2.5 mile track "hosted one 500-mile Cup event annually beginning in 1974." The change comes "five days after Pocono Raceway founder and owner Joseph Mattioli announced his retirement, turning the track over to his grandson," Pocono Raceway President & CEO Brandon Igdalsky (SCENEDAILY.com, 8/10). YAHOO SPORTS' Jay Hart wrote Igdalsky's "first order of business -- doing what his grandfather said would never be done -- is a bold one" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 8/10).
BEAT THE HEAT: F1 Management Chair Bernie Ecclestone has confirmed the inaugural F1 event in Austin next year has been moved from June to November. Speaking to Italian-language newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport, he noted that the race was moved "because it's 40 degrees in the summer (there)." Ecclestone: "We don't want to have the experience of Dallas again." He was referring to an event in '84 "when drivers tackled searing heat and a crumbling track surface." Cynics have "also suggested it will give race organizers more time to build the bespoke circuit in Austin" (SPEED.com, 8/10).