Blog Entry

NBA stars to Europe? Not so fast

Posted on: July 7, 2011 2:22 pm
When word began to spread Thursday that Nets star Deron Williams has an agreement to play next season in Turkey, one prominent NBA agent called foul.

"I don't think he's going overseas," said the agent, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitive nature of the lockout. "I'll believe that deal when I see it."

The Turkish television station NTV Spor reported Thursday that Williams has agreed to join the Turkish team Besiktas, the same team former All-Star Allen Iverson played briefly for last season. The report was confirmed by other media outlets, including The New York Times, which quoted Besiktas coach Ergin Ataman as saying "we confirm" the agreement. According to Ataman, Williams is expected to report to Besiktas on Sept. 1 to prepare for the season, which begins Sept. 27.

If true, Williams would be the highest-profile NBA star in his prime to sign a contract to play overseas. And with NBA players locked out for what many believe will be a long labor fight -- perhaps wiping out the entire 2011-12 season -- Williams going to Turkey could open the floodgates for NBA stars turning their backs on the NBA owners who have nullified their contracts with a lockout.

Or not.

"The guys I work with in Turkey say there's no chance this is happening," the agent said.

Williams, due to become a free agent in 2012, would stand to make $70 million to $80 million on his next NBA contract -- depending on what the new collective bargaining rules will allow.

"He's going to risk that to make a few million dollars?" the agent said. "What if he gets hurt?"

The most Besiktas is believed to be capable of paying Williams is $7 million to $8 million, sources said. No financial terms of his apparent deal with the Turkish team have been divulged, and Williams' new agent, Jeff Schwartz, did not respond to a request for comment.

Various agents currently are discussing deals with European teams, but they're mostly for undrafted free agents or journeymen looking to stay sharp and make money during the lockout -- not superstars in their prime. In exchange for a few million Bucks and a free flight to Istanbul, Williams would not only be risking his next NBA contract, but the rest of his current one -- for which he is owed $34 million over the next two seasons, with a player option for 2012-13.

No offense to Besiktas, but European teams have a history of not living up to contractual obligations, leaving players who signed there fighting to get money that was owed to them. Of course, a publicity stunt to drum up fan interest and sign a few sponsors is free of charge.

In speaking with the Times, Ataman made a point of saying he plans to contact "other guys," such as, you know, Kobe Bryant.

The sound coming from my agent friend on the other end of the phone conversation at that point? Laughter.


Since: Oct 22, 2007
Posted on: July 8, 2011 3:53 pm

NBA stars to Europe? Not so fast

The possibility of players going to Europe to play during the lockout is the best leverage the players have against the owners. If I had anything to do with the NBA Players Association, I'd be urging a bunch of high-profile guys to start talking to teams in Europe and signing up to play for the duration of the contract. Right now, the owners are displaying an attitude that indicates many don't even care if the NBA ever returns and that is the biggest leverage they have against the players, most of whom need the NBA to come back. So if I'm a player, I'm worried about continuing to collect income from playing and staying in shape versus getting out of shape while I wait around and hope the owners finally decide to negotiate. I guarantee that if you took the best player from every team and got those 30 guys to start talking to European teams (or even Asian teams), the owners who do care will be running back to the negotiating table and telling the ones who don't care that they've lost their leverage and voice. And maybe their team, for that matter; contraction is something that would certainly help address some of the NBA's financial issues.

There have been a lot of reports that the owners are divided, but because it's early in the process, the hardliners have largely been allowed to be the main voice driving the process. Players need to divide the owners further and show they can get on without the NBA if they have to. Going elsewhere to play is the best way I can think of to accomplish both objectives. No, the players won't make as much money in Europe, but it will be more than they're making here during the lockout and would help shorten the lockout.

Since: Aug 19, 2006
Posted on: July 7, 2011 11:58 pm

NBA stars to Europe? Not so fast

I think D.Williams is Stupid! This man is a muti-millionaire and could take care of his family even after his death for decades. Why take chances to get injured overseas? Every situation differ but his is Stupid! Let him GO!

Since: Dec 23, 2009
Posted on: July 7, 2011 8:03 pm

NBA stars to Europe? Not so fast

Why is there a link to the Milwaukee Bucks?

Since: Mar 2, 2008
Posted on: July 7, 2011 5:54 pm

NBA stars to Europe? Not so fast

That agent is hilarious.  Durrr......Pro basketball players are always getting hurt.  Get better material guy.   Does this smart-ass agent actually deal with his clients during the season?

Since: Apr 27, 2008
Posted on: July 7, 2011 3:58 pm

NBA stars to Europe? Not so fast

I appreciate the sentiment, but don't kid yourself, for guys like Deron Williams, it is all about the money. He is making this move because he anticipates the lockout will stretch long into the season. It's a risky move, but he has to have something to support his lavish lifestyle. 

Since: Sep 10, 2007
Posted on: July 7, 2011 3:18 pm

NBA stars to Europe? Not so fast

NBA players to Europe is a very high possibility.  Sure the ticket prices will go up for the European teams. The European teams do know how to get TV rights increased as well to pay the players. They can sell jerseys with players name on it for years.  Licensing deals can help as well.
In countries like Turkey the money goes farther so there is an incentive for an NBA player to live there.  Don't knock Turkey it's weather is similar to Southern California near the coast. Very mild winters and somewhat humid hot summers.
Sure there is an injury risk but.  If more players do it, then the NBA owners are in a bind, because they will share the injury risk.   Do the NBA owners want to risk the health of their money makers?  No they do not.
So it is a great move.
It also takes a huge amount of leverage away from the NBA owners with many NBA players doing it.  There is also a connection to Europe already because we draft NBA players from Europe. The pipeline can go in reverse. 
Deron Williams is arguably a top 5 NBA point guard. How many other Top 5 positional players can Europe grab?

Since: Jan 15, 2007
Posted on: July 7, 2011 3:16 pm

NBA stars to Europe? Not so fast

I wonder if people who deal in money will ever understand that it is not all about money. Life is made up of experiences and memories. Perhaps with the money he has already made and an additional 7-8 million from the Turkish team Deron has enough to not worry about the risk as much and to think maybe it would a great experience to play internationally.

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