Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Hoop & The Harm: NBA Europe?

As the NBA lockout starts to drag on, it looks like players are beginning to weigh their options a little bit.

First there were rumors, then a high profile guy signed a deal (with an out-clause), and then another mid-level player signed a deal without an out-clause. Then, more rumors. If we get closer to the start of the season and there is no deal in sight, we’ll probably hear more rumors about guys heading overseas, but how many players will actually leave?

Most guys will probably follow in the footsteps of NJ Nets guard Deron Williams, who will be back as soon as the lockout is over because of that out-clause. The Toronto Raptors will spend the entire year without forward Sonny Weems though, as he is gone to Lithuania for the year, regardless of when the work stoppage ends. It sounds like Chicago’s Joakim Noah will play overseas too, but not for a club team – ESPN reports he’s hoping to get some games in with France at the upcoming European Championships.

Then, there is everybody else.

There are rumors that Kobe Bryant will be leading some kind of superstar tour around China, teammate Metta World Peace (also known as Ron Artest) has his agent looking for a place to play and countless others, I’m sure, are quietly making inquiries but aren’t quite ready to make a move just yet. Artest has only been linked to teams in Finland and the UK so far, despite an open invite to all players to become part of the newly formed National Basketball League of Canada…weird!

Moving right along, OKC Thunder guard Nate Robinson isn’t just looking at a different league, he’s considering a whole other sport this summer! The problem is, he wants to play football, but the NFL is also in the middle of a lockout!

Robinson, who was an elite football player in high school, says if that doesn’t pan out though, he’ll probably end up playing hoops overseas somewhere.

So the question is this: if the lockout goes long, will more players make the jump to Europe and stay long-term, as Besiktas’ new recruit suggests?

I doubt it. The NBA is where the money is, and it’s where the money will be even if the players are forced to give up a big chunk of change to get a new collective bargaining agreement in place. If that happens, and I think it might, it won’t take long for general managers to find ways around whatever new rules are in place, and players will be raking in the dough again in no time. The NHL is a prime example of this – guys are signing strange, big money deals every year and the big bad salary cap has gone up by $25-million since 2005!

Will some players go overseas and stay there for at least a season? Sure, especially if they are free agents at the moment. I’m guessing that the majority of players will either stay home or they won’t commit to a full year abroad though.

What do you think: Should players stick it to the owners by playing somewhere else during the lockout?

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