New Jersey Nets guard Deron Williams reached an agreement with Turkish basketball team Besiktas, and reportedly plans to play with them this winter if the NBA lockout destroys the upcoming season.If it sounds like we’ve covered this before, we have.
A lot of players, particularly those who were born overseas, have threatened to head to Europe in the event of a prolonged work stoppage.
For starters, players who are under contract to NBA teams (like Williams) are still under contract, even during the lockout. (Free agents can do whatever they want and quite a few may head to Europe if the season doesn’t start on time.)
That means if they want to play for another team in another league, they need permission from basketball’s international governing body, FIBA. Given FIBA’s relationship with the NBA and its desire to not rock any boats, they aren’t likely to give it.
The player’s union says if FIBA does that, they will fight them. That means court battles, angry words, and a lot of uncertainty.
Finally – and most importantly – there’s the money. If Williams goes to Turkey and gets hurt, his contract with the Nets could be voided. Whatever Besiktas is paying him, it’s not enough to cover a year with the Nets.
So just because Williams says he will play in Turkey, that doesn’t mean he can or will. If the entire season were officially and totally canceled, then FIBA would be more likely to back off and let players play where they want. At that point, they wouldn’t be protecting the NBA from anything.
But that won’t happen until most of the season is already gone. And the injury issue still stands. It may be a bargaining threat for the union or Williams, who probably wants out of Jersey/Brooklyn.
Or Williams may simply be crazy enough to risk $18 million. But the odds of an NBA superstar with a big guaranteed contract playing in Europe this year are still pretty thin.
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