Will New Jersey Nets' star Deron Williams ever actually play in Turkey if the NBA Lockout lingers? Will other NBA stars follow him? Questions without real answers at this point. There are, however, plenty of opinions. Let's look at some of the reaction to Thursday's announcement that Williams has a one-year deal to play in Turkey if the lockout delays the 2011-2012 NBA season.
Besiktas coach Ergin Ataman told every media outlet that would listen Thursday that his next target would be Kobe Bryant. OK, sounds like a plan. But let's be honest about this: As great as it would be for Williams, Bryant, Paul, Howard, LeBron, Wade, etc., to go on some barnstorming tour of Europe, could this really happen?
In all likelihood, nope.
"They won't all go," a prominent longtime agent told me. "There's not enough money there. This notion that there's all this money over there is simply not true. It's dangerous to do this."
Dangerous because, while the agreement between the NBA and FIBA to approve the poaching of each other's players evidently is suspended during the lockout, the difficulty in getting contracts like Williams' deal with Besiktas insured remains a serious impediment. Williams, 27, is due $34 million on the final two years of his current NBA contract, including a player option for 2012-13. Depending on what the new collective bargaining agreement allows, he'll make upwards of $70 million-plus on his next one.
"He's going to risk that to make a few million dollars?" another high-profile agent said. "What if he gets hurt?"
ESPN hosted a debate with a trio of basketball writers on the subject.
Pro Basketball Talk does not expect a flood of players to head overseas.
Williams may or may not go (he doesn’t have to report until Sept. 1, the first game is Sept. 27, right about when a del needs to be struck to salvage the full NBA season). But money is the reason you are not going to see a river of top-flight NBA guys heading overseas — they have too much money in their deals to risk going overseas.
NBA.com's Hang Time Blog figured something like this would happen.
With the uncertainty of the lockout, you had to know it was only a matter of time before one of the league true stars took this sort of drastic step to secure their position in case of an extended work stoppage.
What will be most interesting in the coming weeks is how many other high-profile players and how many other foreign teams are willing to dive into the fray.