Posted on: August 10, 2011 9:54 am
Edited on: August 10, 2011 10:26 am

Report: Markieff Morris to Greece?

By Matt Moore

It's not just All-Stars and veterans contemplating playing overseas during the lockout. Rookies who haven't played a second in the NBA are now getting into the act. Yahoo! Sports reports that Suns first-round pick Markieff Morris is in talks with Greece squad Panathianaikos, via his agent. Morris retweeted the Yahoo! Sports tweet Tuesday, which shows it's in good order. 

It's not uncommon for second rounders to elect to go for the money in Europe over the low chance of making a roster only to wind up sitting the entier year. But lottery picks are a different matter. This is a player who hasn't been groomed by his team yet, who hasn't started working on weight training or shifting his game to the pro level, and it's a player the Suns need return on. The idea of him having his game immediately affected by Panathinaikos is at once comforting and alarming. It's good that he'll be in shape, good that he'll get experience, good that he'll get toughened up. But it's a concern that they can't control all the factors. 

 Morris' agent Tony Dutt recently told the Houston Chronicle he's pursuing overseas offers for all of his clients, including Markieff's brother Marcus. This could be the start of more rookies, who really need the money, looking overseas to start their professional careers. The trickle down effects of this lockout don't end with veterans at the end of their careers.
Posted on: August 6, 2011 5:45 pm
Edited on: August 6, 2011 6:00 pm

Reports: Euro floodgates to open this week

By Matt Moore

File this under "Talking the talk without walking the walk." That file's going to be getting pretty hefty at this point. May need to get a cabinet for it. 

Anyway, Happy Walters, agent to Amar'e Stoudemire and Wilson Chandler took to Twitter Friday to share the news that you should expect a number of players to finally make the plunge in signing contracts to play overseas. From Twitter:

OK, so an agent is making big words. Big deal. That's the whole thing, is the player's side making big talk and having nothing besides Deron Williams signing with a team whose assets are frozen to show for it? That's the problem, right? Well, except Draft Express is confirming Walters' claim, saying that the current state of the CBA talks have created  "wide spread panic" according to an NBA agent.

We've been hearing this talk for weeks, and this is just the most recent update to that talk, with no real substance, again, beyond Deron Williams' contract.  But having it come from an actual agent, versus unnamed sources, or a player saying he is "considering options" takes it up a step. Having that claim confirmed by a respected independent source is another step. Consider this a small escalation and a slight momentum shift towards an all-out exodus, no matter how unlikely. We'll keep you updated if those odds start to tilt. 
Posted on: August 4, 2011 10:04 am
Edited on: August 4, 2011 10:46 am

Marc Gasol says he won't play for Barcelona

By Matt Moore

FC Barcelona is such a popular (and thereby successful) team in Spain that if anyone was going to make big strides during the lockout luring NBA players back to play, you'd think it would be them. The NBA players who have played for them, and there have been quite a few, have always spoken highly of the situation, with Juan Carlos Navarro actually preferring to stay with the club rather than remain in the NBA (and the horrible-at-the-time Grizzlies). But for whatever reason, it's unlikely you'll be seeing too many NBA guys playing for FC Barcelona in Euroleague next year. 

Tuesday, Ricky Rubio said he would only return if the entire season were lost for the NBA. And on Wednesday, Marc Gasol told Marc Mundet of RAC1 in Catalonia that he doesn't think it would be fair to return to FC Barcelona since he would want to go back to the NBA when the lockout is over.  Gasol termed that idea as "selfish" and said that's just not the way he is. 

Gasol is a restricted free agent when the lockout ends and is due for his biggest payday, what will likely be a max contract (whatever that is for a player of his situation in the new CBA). It was his play that provided the backbone for the Grizzlies' playoff run, and he's considered one of, if not the best young overall center in the league outside of Dwight Howard. He played for two seasons with FC Barcelona after graduating high school in Memphis. 

So it would appear there will not be a reformation of the 2008 Spanish national team for FC Barcelona, but the team should do fine. It routinely wins its league and is considered one of the top European clubs even without Gasol. And if the entire season is lost, who knows?

(HT: HoopsHype)
Posted on: July 29, 2011 11:59 am
Edited on: July 29, 2011 5:10 pm

Gates are open: FIBA grants NBA players clearance

By Matt Moore

Cry havoc, and let loose the dogs of the low block. The European free agency market is officially open for business. 

FIBA announed today its decision regarding clearance for NBA players locked out and their availability in international competitions, and it's good news for those wanting to play basketball overseas. From the FIBA release:
FIBA has confirmed it will approve the transfer of players under contract with the NBA deciding to play for clubs of FIBA affiliated leagues during the on-going lockout.

During a lockout NBA players who continue to be under contract with an NBA team are free to play anywhere they want, whether for their national teams and/or for club teams.

If an NBA player requests to play for a club of a FIBA affiliated league, the NBA will not object but will state that the player will have to return to his NBA team as soon as the lockout ends. Consequently, FIBA will deliver a letter of clearance subject to the receipt of a declaration signed by the player, stating that he will return to his NBA team when the lockout is over.

“As the world governing body for basketball, we strongly hope that the labour dispute will be resolved as soon as possible, and that the NBA season is able to begin as scheduled,” said FIBA Secretary General and IOC member, Patrick Baumann.
via PR N°15 - FIBA clears NBA players to play abroad during lockout | FIBA.COM.

NBA players headed overseas?
The ruling paves the way for what the NBPA hopes is a mass exodus of players overseas in an effort to show the NBA that its players can support themselves while the owners try and starve them out with the lockout. Deron Williams has already signed with Turkish team Besiktas, which also is meeting with Kobe Bryant on Saturday according to reports.

Whether or not players will actually pursue such opportunities is still hotly debated. Most think that players may sign, but never play abroad. Others think that the risks are too great for the players. Some think that the money makes sense, but not as much as the chance to expand their international brand, which can have far greater benefits than any salary they would pull from their team.

FIBA also stated in the release that "in spite of widespread doubts related to the lockout, National Teams competing in this summer’s Olympic Qualifiers will be able to count on the participation of most of their NBA stars." That may have been part of the agreement met when Baumann met with David Stern last week. 

Now we wait to see what the effect of this ruling will be, and if the players and European clubs take advantage of it.
Posted on: August 19, 2010 7:11 pm

Fernandez fined $25k for comments

Blazers forward fined $25,000 for comments by agent about wanting out of Portland.
Posted by Matt Moore

The path out of a guaranteed contract in the NBA is a messy, and often expensive, affair. Rudy Fernandez is getting a head-start on what that kind of divorce looks like.

The NBA today fined Fernandez $25,000 for "public statements detrimental to the NBA" according to an NBA release. It's assumed that Fernandez was fined for comments made by his agent regarding a desire to end his time in the NBA and return to Europe. Fernandez' agent spoke with both Marc Spears of Yahoo! Sports and HoopsHype.com about Fernandez' desire for a split with the Blazers. Via HoopsHype:

“The impression I’m getting more and more is that he’s lost interest in playing in the NBA, quite frankly,” Miller said. “It’s my impression that Rudy would prefer to be in Europe rather than the NBA at this point.”

The fine is a pretty standard reaction from the league, which automatically fines a player that makes a public trade or release request. Granted the multiple reports which have indicated both Carmelo Anthoney and Chris Paul requesting trades make for an easy loophole, but it's an important distinction. You have to provide the league and your team with plausible deniability. Your agent going on record about you wanting out doesn't exactly provide a lot of wiggle room.

For what it's worth, Rich Cho, the new GM of the Blazers told Spears that they're not in any hurry to do anything about Fernandez. Fernandez' situation is particular, but GMs are always wary of setting precdents which could lead to other situations. The cold hard truth is that Fernandez is under contract with the NBA. If the Blazers don't want to let him go, they don't have to. And if he doesn't play, he doesn't get paid. Unlike the other superstars looking for a new zipcode this summer, Fernandez doesn't have much in the way of leverage.

And the NBA certainly isn't going to be helping him out.
Posted on: August 18, 2010 11:24 pm
Edited on: August 19, 2010 8:57 am

Rudy Fernandez is done with the NBA

Blazers forward is headed back to Europe, regardless of trade.
Posted by Matt Moore

Rudy Fernandez has made a ton of noise this summer about wanting out of Portland, where his value has steadily declined since entering the league. He never clicked with the coaching staff and had his role progressively compromised by roster moves. The steady thought was that a trade to New York, Chicago, or Boston would have placated him. However, it would appear that situaton has changed.

Marc Spears of Yahoo! Sports reports that Fernandez' agent claims that Fernandez is homesick and wants to return to Europe. He no longer has an interest in playing in the NBA, and is willing to sit out the season under suspension in pursuit of a split with the Trail Blazers. Fernandez is still under contract with the Blazers this season, so he can't just escape back home.

What he's going through sounds awfully similar to Juan Carlos Navarro, who joined the Grizzlies before heading back home. Of course, Fernandez was actually part of a winning team, though he did have his best friend on the team (Sergio Rodriguez) traded away just like Navarro (Pau Gasol). But it's yet another example of a European player that simply prefers the lifestyle and play of Europe over the NBA. It's a shame we'll miss out on seeing Rudy regularly. But hey, we'll always have the failed dunk attempt. 40 times .

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com