Posted on: November 29, 2011 6:17 pm
Edited on: November 29, 2011 6:17 pm
Posted by Ben Golliver.
It took us all awhile to digest what the heck they were up to, but Turkish basketball club Besiktas has emerged as the NBA lockout's winner for most hilariously random.
Besiktas wasted no time this summer, signing New Jersey Nets All-Star point guard Deron Williams to a multi-million dollar contract and then trying to leverage that into pursuits of seemingly dozens of NBA players, including Los Angeles Lakers All-Star guard Kobe Bryant. In the end, the NBA and its players reached a tentative deal on a new collective bargaining agreement before Besiktas was able to team Williams with another star.
Keep in mind, Besiktas isn't even competing in the Euroleague, so all Besiktas really had to gain was Turkish league dominance and a ton of international publicity. No matter, Williams led Besiktas to a 6-1 record during his stint in Turkey, and despite not selling out the team's 3,200 seat arena, Williams averaged 19.7 points, 6.4 assists and 3.3 rebounds while shooting 54.9 percent from the field. The highlight was obviously a recent 50-point scoring explosion. He leaves Turkey with Besiktas in second place in the standings, one game behind leaders Anadolu Efes, whose roster includes Sasha Vujacic and Ersan Ilyasova.
Despite spending less than three months in Turkey, Williams has been formally honored by the team, who retired his No. 8 jersey and raised it to the rafters. I can't think of a better, funnier way to commemorate this incredibly unique experience for both club and player. Just awesome.
The next, obvious question: Will the Nets retire Williams' jersey after he bolts in free agency next summer?
Here's the video of Turkish club Besiktas retiring Deron Williams' jersey courtesy of YouTube user realderonwilliams.
Hat tip: IAmAGM.com.
Posted on: November 27, 2011 12:19 pm
Edited on: November 27, 2011 1:55 pm
Posted by Ben Golliver.
It's over. The 2011 NBA lockout is finally, mercifully over. Let's hail the victors and pity the vanquished in this rundown of the NBA lockout's winners and losers.
Over the next six years, the owners succeeded in shifting more than 1 billion dollars into their pockets by negotiating their share of the Basketball-Related Income split from 43 percent in the old deal to a 49 percent to 51 percent band in the new deal. That number could grow to more than 2 billion if both parties agree to continue the deal through to its full 10-year length.
In addition to the players' 10-figure financial give-back, the owners received major concessions on virtually every important issue governed by the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). Contract lengths are getting shorter from a maximum of six years to a maximum of five years for players who are re-signing and four years for other free agents, meaningfully reducing the level of financial security players feel while also reducing the burden of bad contracts on a team. The mid-level exception system is shrinking, which hits the middle class free agents hardest while helping to keep owners from overpaying for mediocre talent. The luxury tax system is getting tougher, which limits the very highest-spending teams’ ability to compete and/or set the market for free agents while theoretically creating a slightly more level playing field between large and small market teams.
Whether or not you agree with the logic behind these major changes, their collective impact combined with the clear financial victory makes this negotiation a strong-arm highway robbery. And all it cost: less than 20 percent of the games in one season (and some hurt feelings among die-hard fans).
Losers: NBA Players
Any time you leave a negotiation thinking, “Well, this is bad, but it could have been worse,” you lost that negotiation. National Basketball Players Association executive director Billy Hunter even admitted that a recent NBA offer was “not the greatest proposal in the world", yet he and the players tentatively agreed to a deal very similar to the one he bashed publicly. This happened because the players never had real leverage or good alternatives. They were squeezed and had no escape route.
But, it could have been worse. The mid-level system in the agreement provides more spending power for teams (and thus more money for free agents) than in previous proposals. The luxury tax system is significantly tougher than the one in the previous CBA, but not as draconian as a hard cap – something that the owners maintained that they wanted for the longest time – and not as punitive as earlier reports indicated it might be. The NBA also increased its spending floor for all of its teams, providing additional suitors for free agents and theoretically helping to prevent players from getting stuck on teams that totally slash-and-burn their rosters with no intention of actually competing.
Losers: Miami Heat
Despite the salary cap good news, the Heat are also short-term losers. The 2011-2012 season now officially bears the historical taint associated with an abridged schedule. The 2012 Finals winner, no matter who it is, will bear the asterisk of being “lockout champions.” That’s fine if you are the Dallas Mavericks defending your 2011 title or the Los Angeles Lakers adding to your stockpile, but if you’re James, Wade, Bosh and company, your first title needs to be clean or critics will mercilessly work to invalidate it. Winning in 2012 will require Miami to win future titles to prove that their triumph wasn’t a short season fluke. In other words, James and company will carry a burden into the 2012-2013 season even if he finally wins his first ring.
Until a recent minor knee tweak by Fernandez, all four NBA players made it through their international excursions in good health. No NBA player made more money playing hoops during the lockout than Williams, who took a risk in broadening his family’s horizons and staying active that paid off in game checks and lack of boredom. Parker and Batum returned home to France, garnering a hero’s welcome, while Fernandez did the same in Spain, where he is extraordinarily popular. All three put up big numbers and gave their fans a chance to see them during their peak years rather just a victory lap when their NBA careers are through. That’s got to be an incredibly fulfilling feeling.
Losers: Anyone that gets stuck in China
The Chinese Basketball Association insisted on preventing NBA opt-out provisions in its contracts, theoretically tying any player who signed with a team in that league through March, when the regular season ends. Kenyon Martin, J.R. Smith, Yi Jianlian, Aaron Brooks, Patty Mills and others agreed to play in China and now their future is uncertain. Best case: their Chinese team agrees to release them so they can return to the United States. Worst case: they remain stuck until March, when finding a good NBA landing spot, not to mention salary number, could be significantly more difficult. The major consolation here is that Chinese teams were reportedly offering seven-figure deals, so guys that are trapped until March won’t be leaving empty-handed.
Saving The Season
We’ve been saying for months and months that no player needs a 2011-2012 season more than Kobe Bryant. At 33, losing a year of his career would have been a disaster, and not just because he would have lost more than $25 million in salary. Bryant is embarking on dual epic quests: passing Michael Jordan in total number of championships and passing Michael Jordan on the all-time points list. Salvaging a season gives him a much better chance at both goals.
Loser: Greg Oden
The Portland Trail Blazers center has not appeared in an NBA game since Dec. 2009 and is now a full year removed from his most recent microfracture surgery. Even so, The Oregonian reports that Oden still doesn't have a firm timetable on an expected return to the court and hasn't yet been cleared for basketball activities. Oden is a restricted free agent and now must enter contract negotiations without the ability to prove he can play again. Contract aside, a lost season would have helped delay the return of the enormous pressure he faces as a former No. 1 overall pick; now, Oden will likely come back to Portland, where expectations are still gigantic, after hiding out for most of the lockout, only to face another round of jokes and barbs about his health.
The best way for a player to improve his standing with basketball die-hards is to show off his own unrequited love of the game. James, Durant and Jennings stood above the crowd in their dedication to playing in organized events across the country, connecting directly with fans and providing hope even when the lockout turned ugliest. Twitter and savvy sneaker campaigns – “Basketball Never Stops” and “Are You From Here?” – helped keep the positive momentum going. There’s no question all three guys made lifelong fans with their actions over the last six months.
Loser: Michael Beasley
Beasley got busted for marijuana, threw an "All-Star Classic" charity game in which all the All-Stars bailed, shoved a fan in the face during a New York City exhibition, and sued his former agent and AAU coach – his surrogate father during high school – alleging major NCAA rules violations. He also hired and was then dropped by a PR firm that was working to help improve his image. To top it all off, he spoke out against his players union, saying that it was "kind of retarded" for the players to be fighting over a few BRI percentage points. Meanwhile, the Minnesota Timberwolves now bring to camp the No. 2 overall draft pick, Derrick Williams, who will be an instant fan favorite and figures to compete for his minutes.
HoopMixTape.com and other highlight-reel videographers saw major upticks in traffic and interest during the summer pro-am and fall charity league circuits. Their ability to take high quality, professional footage and cut it together seamlessly in a matter of hours feeding the hoops need for basketball's year-round global audience in nearly real-time.
Losers: NBA Online
The NBA’s decision to strip its websites of references to players and to start a Twitter account to aggressively push its labor message to media members, and even players, came off petty, heavy-handed and way too Big Brother in an arena that is supposed to be about fun, not business. The league has some serious fence-mending to do, especially with its core audience. It’s unclear whether the league knows that or not.
Posted on: November 25, 2011 12:48 am
Posted by Royce Young
A team combining the talents of Deron Williams and Lamar Odom would definitely be a fun one to watch. Too bad you'd have to move to Turkey in order to see it.
According to ESPN.com, but first reported by Turkish outlet NTV Spor, Odom has signed with Besiktas, which of course is the team Williams is currently with in Turkey. Odom's deal includes an NBA opt-out, and he should be in Turkey as early as next week, provided a new collective bargaining agreement isn't struck before then.
There were rumblings this week that Besiktas had made Odom an offer and were in discussions. Now, it appears he's accepted it.
According to the report, Odom will earn more than $2 million if he spends the rest of the seaso with Besiktas. Final details aren't known yet though.
Besiktas has been targeting a number of NBA players to team with Williams. Names that have been reported as having interest were Brook Lopez, Kevin Love, Nene, Carlos Boozer, Luol Deng and Marcin Gortat. And that's just recently. Besiktas flirted with Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, Zach Randolph, Tyson Chandler, Andrew Bynum and Chris Kaman at different points of the year since the lockout started.
Odom, who is 32, is set to earn $17 million over the next two years with the Lakers. And that doesn't include what he makes from being a reality TV star, of course. Important note from the ESPN report: "Despite the fact that his wife, Khloe Kardashian, has Armenian roots, Odom's reality show with Kardashian airs in Turkey and is said to be popular there." Phew, am I right?
There certainly hasn't been quite the exodus to Europe most thought would happen when the lockout started, but if anyone is taking the most advantage, it's Besiktas. Williams didn't just sign, but is playing and playing well for the team and adding Odom really cranks the team's profile a bit. Not to mention their ability.
Posted on: November 24, 2011 11:57 am
Edited on: November 24, 2011 5:50 pm
By Matt Moore
Update: In a typical sign of how flimsy these European deals are, Sportando reports that the deal with Lopez has fallen through, and it's now Lamar Odom who has agreed to a deal with Besiktas. We'll wait to see if this falls through as well.
After whiffing on Kobe Bryant and swinging out on Kevin Love, it looks like Besiktas has its next NBA star to go with Deron Williams. Sportando reports that Brook Lopez will head to Turkey to join Williams for the duration of the NBA Lockout, via Kartal Basket.
That makes two Nets on Besiktas, and could help with developing chemistry between Lopez and Williams. Which, if the entire season is lost, won't be much help since Williams may bolt in free agency, and the Nets could jettison Lopez in restricted free agency. But it still makes for a notable teammate for Williams this season in Istanbul, and more time with Williams will help Lopez regardless of where he ends up. Playing with a point guard of his caliber will do wonders for him.
Meanwhile, Williams hasn't been suffering as of late, scoring 50 points, shooting 17-23 from the field. Not a bad day's work.
Lopez struggled last season under Avery Johnson, and his rebounding numbers have become an area of concern for his development. But he's still one of the better low-post and high pick-and-roll players in the league and should help Besiktas this season.
Posted on: November 22, 2011 5:44 pm
Posted by Ben Golliver.
Now that's more like it.
When an NBA All-Star in his prime signs to play internationally, the immediate expectation is that he will receive a hero's welcome and proceed to dominate on the court. It hasn't been that easy for New Jersey Nets point guard Deron Williams. Since inking a contract with Turkey's Besiktas last summer, Williams has admitted that the team isn't selling out its 3,200-person stadium and has expressed frustration that the NBA lockout is still ongoing. He's been averaging 20.5 points, 6.8 assists and 3.0 rebounds per game for Besiktas in Turkish league play, according to DraftExpress.com, but those aren't the charity game numbers that many people were expecting from one of the world's elite players against non-NBA competition.
On Tuesday, Williams finally delivered the type of international smackdown that many had anticpated, dumping in 50 points in a 105-94 Eurochallenge Cup win over German professional club Goettingen, according to the team's official site. DraftExpress.com reported that Williams shot 17-for-23 from the field, hitting seven 3-pointers.
Here's video of Deron Williams' 50-point explosion via YouTube user TheDrizzleIsLocal.
Hat Tip: Sportando.net.
Posted on: November 21, 2011 3:44 pm
By Matt Moore
The Turkish basketball club that had been pursuing a frontcourt running mate for Deron Williams will have to find someone other than Kevin Love. ESPN spoke with Love via text and the Minnesota All-Star confirmed that he is still looking at options overseas.
"I didn't feel it was the right decision for me at this time," Love told ESPN.com.via Kevin Love of Minnesota Timberwolves declines Besiktas' offer - ESPN.
Besiktas signed Deron Williams early in the lockout process, and the results in terms of attendance have not been staggering. Williams admitted recently that attendance hasn't been anywhere near a sellout for the club. Williams is averaging over 20 points and seven assists per game but has also said the transition overseas has been difficult in some ways.
Love was considered an option for Besiktas along with Chicago's Luol Deng in a weird contract in choice of options. It's not know what the offer for Love was, but apparently it wasn't good enough to drag the 30-30 machine over. Besiktas failed after multiple attempts to secure the services of Kobe Bryant this past summer. NTV Spor of Turkey reports Carlos Boozer and Polish center Marcin Gortat are also on Besiktas' wish list.
Posted on: November 6, 2011 9:57 am
Posted by Royce Young
David Stern gave the players an ultimatum Saturday: Take this deal or get ready for a worse offer.
And the players don't have much left to hit back with though. Stern's got the PR battle won. The proposal he laid out in great detail sounds fair enough to fans so if -- or when -- the players reject it, all the blame is on them.
So with the frustration built from what the players perceive as another weak offer, the decertification train jumped back on the tracks and appears to be running full steam ahead. Jared Dudley retweeted a reporter that tweeted "Hello decertification." Jeff Green tweeted "I CAN'T F'ING BELIEVE THIS!!!" Nazr Mohammed went on another one of his asture, well-thought out Twitter rants.
But Deron Williams came high and hard.
(I think the question mark was supposed to an exclamation point. Just a hunch.)
But Williams sentiment is one many players are feeling. This decertification push is something a lot of players, or at least agents, wanted over the summer. But going hard for it now is akin to trying to stop your house from burning down with your garden hose. It still has merit and it's certainly a tactic, but I don't think Stern and his owners are shaking over it.
The players have until Wednesday to either change their mind or to really dig in. And if they're going to dig in, they might as well get completely crazy and just try to, as one player texted a reporter, blow it to the moon.
Posted on: November 5, 2011 1:34 pm
Edited on: November 5, 2011 1:52 pm
Posted by Ben Golliver.
Deron Williams just posted the equivalent of a personal ad on his official blog this weekend, reminding any NBA general managers that are paying attention that he will be a free agent next summer and is definitely interested in entertaining their offers.
At the end of a lengthy blog post about life on and off the court in Turkey, where he is playing for Besiktas, Williams drops the following paragraph for no apparent reason other than to increase the stress level of New Jersey Nets fans.
First, it would make sense for Williams to rent even if he was committed to the Nets. New Jersey is a team in flux, planning a move to Brooklyn that will include a name change re-branding. There's no reason to buy now. That's just logistically logical. If he wants to re-sign with the Nets, he would either need to buy in Brooklyn and commute to New Jersey this season or buy in New Jersey and commute to Brooklyn in the future. Either way, less than ideal. There's real value in waiting.
Of course, the travel logistics are not the major deciding factor here. The Nets sport one of the worst rosters in the league and they took a major gamble in trading Derrick Favors, Devin Harris, two first round picks and monetary considerations to acquire Williams without any assurances that he would re-sign long-term. The ongoing NBA lockout has wiped out -- at least so far -- the one season the Nets were guaranteed to have his services and it has delayed and compressed (or cancelled) the free agency period that the Nets had hoped to use to find a big-name to help convince Williams to re-sign. In other words, the Nets are a mess compounded by another, much larger mess.
Williams is 27 now. He lost a year of his prime to a trade and he's losing another year of his prime to NBA negotiations. He wants to win now and he will have plenty of suitors next summer who will be able to make a compelling financial offer while also promising a better chance at postseason success. New Jersey will exit the lockout with the ability to make Williams the best possible financial offer but Williams' Turkish experience and his "keeping my options open" stance here suggests that far more than money will play into his summer 2012 decision-making process.
Hat tip: HoopsHype.com