Photo: Flickr/Keith Allison
Yesterday, Dirk Nowitzki told the world that, in the event of a lockout he would be looking to play overseas.Kurt Hellin at Pro Basketball Talk was quick to point that this scenario was unlikely. FIBA must grant a special exception to allow players under contract elsewhere to play for their teams.
Now, Tom Ziller of SB Nation has parsed the fine details, and laid bare the conditions under which, given Kurt’s point, All-Stars still might end up in foreign climes.
The key point is that, if the season is canceled due to either side’s intransigence, it’s not clear that current NBA contracts would be valid. FIBA spokesman Florian Wanninger had the following to say:
“In the event of an NBA work stoppage or players’ strike, it would have first to be determined whether the players are still under a valid contract. If this were the case, players cannot play elsewhere. A contrario, if contracts are not valid any longer, they are free to transfer.”
If it looks like FIBA’s position contains wiggle room, it’s because it does. The cancellation of the entire 2011-12 NBA season could go a long way toward determining that the league’s player contracts for that year are invalid — players will not have gotten paid to the terms of their contracts.
Of course, poaching NBA talent wouldn’t exactly endear FIBA to David Stern, a relationship that’s key to the game’s international future. Even if LeBron James doesn’t go to Russia, it would give the players added leverage or breathing room at the negotiating table.
However, if the season is off with no chance of being salvaged at the All-Star break, FIBA could presumably go for it after the fact. It might bug Sterm, but it’s hardly affecting any outcomes.
And, as Tom notes, there are plenty of international teams that have nothing to do with FIBA. It may not be top-flight basketball, but it’s money. For that matter, America has the ABA, which owes no debt to the NBA and would love to get its hands on some NBA vets badly in need of a paycheck.
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