Players and executives alike don’t see this ending anytime soon. In the most recent meeting between the players and owners, no headway was made in the issue after almost three hours of deliberation. Billy Hunter, NBA Players Association executive director, thinks there's a good chance the 2011-2012 NBA season may not happen at all. The players’ union has actually encouraged players to seek work elsewhere in case the season does fall through, and many players, including big names have been following this advice. Hunter actually sent out a memo encouraging this idea of players playing overseas. The two main reasons behind players following through with this mindset seem to be that they feel the owners will reel back the strict proposals if it seems as though the players have other options, and secondly, some players simply love the game too much not to play.
Dwayne Wade, for instance, was quoted as saying, “I’m going to play basketball this year. I don’t know where, but I love the game so much that I will play it.” His teammate, LeBron James, doesn’t seem worried at all about the lockout, and even though Wade is weary of the implications a long lockout could have, he doesn’t think it will come to that. Other players such as Dirk Nowitzki and Tony Parker have shared that they feel similar to Wade, and have acknowledged the option to play somewhere else, which is what they say they will do if need be. Still there are players who have taken things much further than just saying that they will play somewhere else if need be.
Deron Williams has already signed with a Turkish team, who has also pursued Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant. Kobe Bryant turned down the offer, at which time the Turkish team entered into negotiations with Durant. However, Durant’s agent has stated that he is still browsing and has not made any final commitments. Mr. Ron Artest of the Los Angeles Lakers says that he will definitely be playing with the Cheshire Jets, a British basketball team, during the lockout. Artest showed his excitement via Twitter where he posted, “Go Jets!!!!! Uk , here we come!!! Jets are the best!!! Jets are the best!!! New chant!!!!!!!!!” Nike, a major sponsor of some of the biggest names in the league, is hoping that if its players sign anywhere they will find a deal in China because of their marketability there.
At this point, you’re probably wondering, as was I, “What happens if these players agree to an overseas contract, but then the lockout falls through and there is a 2011-2012 NBA season?” The answer to this question is provided through a declaration from basketball’s governing body, FIBA (International Basketball Federation), which states any player with an existing NBA contract may only sign an overseas contract if it includes a clause stating the player will immediately return to the NBA when the lockout ends. This seems sensible to us here in the U.S., but to owners in Europe and Asia this is quite frustrating and a major hindrance to closing any deal with a currently contracted NBA player. Foreign owners don’t want to dish out large sums of money for a temporary contract as well as disrupt their team chemistry in such a way. Never mind the potential loss of other talent that may be overlooked while trying to court an NBA superstar. The Chinese Basketball League is considering a ban altogether on allowing their teams to negotiate with any players affected by FIBA’s new policy. Another roadblock for NBA players trying to move their game overseas is the risk of injury. Players will need to acquire some sort of insurance in case they become injured and cannot play out their NBA contracts.
This battle will probably come right down to the wire, in the same way the NFL lockout did, but the odds of this actually dipping into the 2011-2012 NBA season are likely very slim as are the odds of any stars playing in foreign leagues, except for Iverson, of course.
For a more in-depth analysis of the lockout check out this video from NBA.com.
Written by: Andy G.
Sources: ESPN.com, ESPN.com, ESPN.com, ESPN.com, NBA.com, NBA.com