HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — There are plenty of risks and seemingly just as many rewards awaiting the player, or perhaps more appropriately the players, willing to take their talents to Turkey if the lockout continues into the fall.
By now you’ve read the ESPN.com reports about Nets All-Star point guard Deron Williams agreeing in principal to a deal to sign with Besiktas, the same team that signed Allen Iverson last season. Hawks center Zaza Pachulia, who has a Turkish passport, is reportedly close to agreeing to a similar deal.
While the pay for a potentially short-term gig in the Turkish league would be grand for players without contracts, there are those risks we mentioned. What if Williams or Pachulia were injured while playing overseas? (That’s a double whammy effecting both the player and his NBA team.) And what must Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov be thinking with the face of the franchise — acquired in trade that the Nets’ future is dependent on working out in favor of the team headed to Brooklyn — possibly headed to play elsewhere with free agency (2012) looming?
This is the first of what could be many wrinkles tossed into the process by players willing to consider their foreign options if the lockout lasts into the fall. More from ESPN.com:
Williams’ deal will be for one year and $5 million, sources told ESPN The Magazine’s Chris Broussard.
Ataman told the newspaper Besiktas isn’t done chasing NBA players.
“If there’s a possibility, we’ll talk with Kobe (Bryant) if he’d like to play in Europe with Deron and with other guys to play we can talk with him,” Ataman said. “If Kobe would like to play with us, we will also contact his agent and maybe with him.”
Ataman told the newspaper that Williams’ deal would become official in the next 24 hours and that the club’s president, Seref Yalcin, would join Williams for a news conference in the United States next week. Besiktas officials held a similar news conference in New York when they signed Iverson last October.
Sources say Williams would not be required to report to the Turkish club before the end of August or early September and that his deal with them would include an immediate out that allows him to return to the NBA as soon as the work stoppage ends.
Williams has two years left on his contract with the Nets but is widely expected to opt out the final season, valued at nearly $18 million, to become a free agent in the summer of 2012.
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. And as my man Henry Abbott of TrueHoop points out, deals like this will fit nicely into the NBA/FIBA window of acceptance, courtesy of an agreement that hinges on the NBA lockout rendering some 400 plus players “unemployed” until further notice.
So much of what happens in the future depends on the length of the lockout. But as the deal Williams has agreed to shows, time is of the essence for the players interested in taking the risk, mostly because there are a limited number of teams capable of handling such a situation.
Now that you’ve had a little time to chew on and digest the idea of NBA stars going abroad if the lockout persists, tell us what you think of it all.