Taking Their Talents To Turkey?

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.

Besiktas coach Ergin Ataman told the New York Times that the team also has an agreement with Atlanta Hawks center Zaza Pachulia.

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.


  1. Steve says:

    What is Besiktas? They havent won anything in Europe and they never will (besides the fact that TURKEY is in ASIA and NOT IN EUROPE).

    Turkish Basketball is 3rd rate in Europe. If you go and play in Turkey, you might as well go to Albania or Kazakhstan.

    Panathinaikos of Greece, arguably the best team in Europe the past 20 years (have won the Euroleague 6 times, easily most than anybody in that period) could be a civilized surrounding for NBA players. Keep in mind, that is where Dominique Wilikins played 15 years ago. So did Byron Scott and Dino Radja among other NBA players. The team is cutting down its budget due to the crisis, but if you really want to play ball and win in Europe, Greece or Spain is where you go, not some 3rd rate country like Turkey. Unless you are greedy.

    • Georgeofthe jungle says:

      Not again a greek or armenian idiot who has problems with Turkey :(( The country is very beautiful,has nothing to do with asian or arabian(mostly european style of life) and modern.Their basketball league is one of the top 3 leagues in Europe,their teams are strong.What could an NBA player want more?Of course they’d never earn so much money like NBA,but till the lockout ends,they’d stay fit and at least they can learn teamplay and zone defence :))

  2. Watagatapitusberry says:

    well i think that even if kobe gos to tourky, Deron a zaza pechulia will be da stars of besictas and i dunno why they’re goin to europe i mean, what if they like europe? They might not come back! d williams will always be one of my favorite players cause i luv skeein in utah. i know this is a poor comment, but who’s with me?

    ps: and, anyway, they pay much more ing NBA than the chiken league.

  3. k89 says:

    lol getting williams and pachulia got to turkeys head ! kobe is NOT gonna go to turkey, and i doubt that he will go anywhere else in europe. europe will get all the young players that still need money and cannot afford to stay a half season without pay. needless to say that is not the case of kobe

  4. lafan12 says:

    why dont they go to another league in the states who cares ih they are minor leagues

  5. doe says:

    Yes. Yes!!! Philippines! remember what Gilbert Arenas said? “You should go to the Philippines! and you’ll feel good”. This is the first Asian country with Pro league. Just Google the book ‘Pacific Rims’, read it and you’ll know.

  6. evil clown says:

    Please come here in the Philippines! We are crazy about basketball! Our professional league needs star power. Although i don’t think we can pay you much. LOL!

  7. Besiktas says:

    Besiktas Fans do welcome D-Will , Pachulia and Kobe as well .

    enjoy !!

  8. black eagle says:

    D-Will welcome to Besiktas.. Playing with besiktas fans will have great experience for him.. Besiktas fans grup is the best fans grup in the world. You can watch many beisktas fans (carsi) videos at youtube.

    bjk fans..

  9. knox says:

    if kobe play on turkey..he surely score 50+ points every game..lol..

  10. serdar says:

    No way. The video above is the galatasaray fans not besiktas. NBA stars would see it only when thay play against Cimbom.
    Also if Kobe comes here, he must be circumsized to be able to play here. Then he may not be able to return to california because circumsition is prohibited by law there. He would be arrested.

  11. dan says:

    Players going to Europe would be good for the game world wide but I do believe that there would be a few players who will not make it over there as they are to used to being spoiled by their current lifestyles. Could you imagine players like Wade, Bosh, James, Howard, and others being happy being made to turn up to 2 a day session, made to ensure that Team ball is played first and where they call traveling.

  12. dunca says:

    if lebron will go in turkey then he can win a championship. this is his dream. if he stay there 10 years …yea,he will have more rings than the great MJ . should think about it,it’s his chance. lebron could make a new “DECISION” and take his talents in europe. will be 300milions fans watching his decision . i’m from europe and i “love” him. it’s the best player in the NBA history….after mj,magic,bird,russel,wilt,kobe,and another 100 players

  13. PhysicistsDoItBetter says:

    will kobe come back in reggio emilia to play???

  14. alikemalcem says:

    Memphis’ten Lakers’tan topçu almayın, taraftarı çıldırtmayın, senelerce sürsün lokavt, gelsin artık Kobe Bryant”

  15. Arda says:

    Besiktas president’s name isn’t Seref Yalcin, his name is Yıldırım Demirören.. BJK (Besiktas) is the biggest club in Türkiye.. Soccer club has a stars like Quaresma, Guti, Simao, Almeida.. and İverson played last year in basketboll club.. why not Kobe ??

  16. weh? says:

    well, kobe will come here in the philippines in 3 days. maybe he want’s to play in the PBA. lol.

  17. Darius says:

    at the end of the day the players have got to eat. it does not matter if the nba owners like it or not

  18. Gencer says:

    Kobe has a deal with Turkish Airlines. That maybe a reason for him to play in Turkey. Unfortunately he used to live in Italy when he was young because of his father and he can also speak Italian. This fact may be a reason for him to prefer Italy instead of Turkey if he decides to play in Europe.

    Also 3 giants of bosphorus (Galatasaray, Fenerbahçe, Beşiktaş) are all have basketball teams and they can pay maybe not as much as NBA but seriously good amounts for NBA players. Btw with Turkish sport taxing system, they’ll not pay any taxes.

    Look at facebook, each of these teams has as much fans as Los Angeles Lakes. Each has increadible fan support behind them (Turkish and most of European fans don’t just “watch” the game, they’ll also sing chants and live the game). If superstars (let’s say all stars instead) will decide to play in Europe, i definetely believe lots of them will choose beautiful city of İstanbul, Turkey.

  19. burak says:

    i think the main point, is kobe willing to play in europe?..ıf he want, besiktas definetely can afford his cost. ı’m also besiktas fan and if he’d like to come istanbul he’ll never be regret because our fans are the best in the world and everyplayer wants to play in front of such a fan group, is’nt it?..In addition, in turkey people say that besiktas’ll pay deron 200.000 dolars per month. As we see players costs will not same with their wages in nba. If we think like that, we can easily understand why will kobe can be in turkey next season

  20. Nbazmi says:

    Hey..How about Fenerbahce (one of the richest clubs in Europe now), a real contender for Euroleague(second best league after NBA) championship, which will take place in Istanbul…They can afford Kobe.I am sure he would like to play in front of 20000 fans and win an Euroleague trophy..

  21. Hamza says:

    According to Turkish media he will come back to NBA when the lockout is over. Actually, this is what the players seek.

  22. Ömer says:

    I think Besiktas gives 2 million dolars for d will , 1 m dollars to zaza , perhaps 3 m can be for kobe b. We are waiting to them ankara , and istanbul. They will see The world biggest funs. Look like a dream.

  23. Bs07 says:

    There are lots of richer clubs than Besiktas such as Cska Moscow Real Madrid Maccabi Fenerbahce Ulker(enes kanter’s team) and Siena if Besiktas can sign Dwill they can sign Kobe Lebron wade don’t underestimate european clubs

  24. Marcus says:

    Kobe will not play for any turkish team. He has said it, that when he goes to europe, it’s going to be to Italy.

  25. NBAFAN101 says:

    Wait, i dont get it, is Deron going to be playing in Turkey forever or is he just playing over there until the Lockout is over and there is a new CBA..??

  26. eren says:

    i am turkish basketball fan my team galatasaray which one of the biggest enemies of beşiktaş but i am really glad to see D.Will and Kobe in Turkish Basketball League. i wish Galatasaray gets some of nba players.
    If there wont be a nba season thats a huge opportunity for european basketball and TBL. advertisement, sponsorship and most important getting more fans into the basketball. if nba starts this season for example in january or february williams will be ready to play there this is good for him also he can learn something from european basketball.

  27. King of the hill says:

    Lets say there will be no nba next season.

    Kobe Bryant currently earns 24 million but he will not. So you can count that as a cost. He has lots of sponsorships. And he is not gonna be on tv so People will start to forget about him( means less sponsored sales) Plus he will get rusted a lot(No team facilities coaches etc..) For these reasons it is good for him to go abroad.

    League wise there will be more competition which fans will benefit.

    But some teams will be really screwed. Either they will lose so many games without acquiring good talents or they will destroy their lineup after beginning of nba with losing their talents.

    Also an advice for players 🙂 ; in europe you are not gonna get that many calls that you are use to. You may be bruised a lot during a euroleague game. And you may be benched after a crazy shot or a mistake. On this side of atlantic, teams are bigger than players…

  28. Bruno says:

    If, eventually, they play with this environment, they will then really want to come back?

  29. hulagu says:

    Kobe doesnt need that 24M. He might want to play for Besiktas so he can get a championship in Europe too.

    • berkamore says:

      Did you say that Kobe didn’t need $ 24 million? Maybe you know people who have a different set of values but personally, I have yet to meet somebody who doesn’t need $24 million.

  30. HarryKrishner says:

    I think this is a good opportunity for both fans and players to still see a great deal of basketball action. I think some of the european leagues or teams are very good and they are steadily improving. Also, in spite of an NBA lockout, this will still promote NBA and basketball in general all across Europe. Maybe it will even change the face of Basketball coverage in Europe as well, at least a little. I’d very much appreciate this as an Austrian citizen.
    In conclusion:

    I think that basketball in general would benefit from players going overseas during the period of the lockout. Might as well do the FIBA some good! And then, you always take the risk of an injury when stepping on the court, right?

  31. Rocket33 says:

    The rabbit’s got the gun now for sure. Basketball is a global game and the NBA is just a league. If the players aren’t getting paid then they have the right to take their talents elsewhere. I still think the players are equally to blame for the lockout. If they don’t think they are overpaid then that’s just crazy. Maybe playing in Europe for less money than they make normally will do them some good. Although I think they will still be treated like royalty wherever they decide to play.

  32. MVP4Nash says:

    Kobe does commercials for Turkish Airlines, so why not also play for a Turkish team?

    • Jamie says:

      Yeah, good point.
      Turkish Airlines will be sponsor of Besiktas for this agreement.
      Turkish Airlines will be able to pay approximately 15 million dollars for bringing Kobe to Turkey.
      It sounds crazy, but Kobe is close to Turkey!

  33. bigboy11 says:

    hope all the big name players go overseas and make money while these owners here are making none

  34. Jferrich Oba says:

    I think it’s grate, grate in the sense that it makes the owners take a real good look at loosing a grate money making product. A product that can not be replaced in the for seeable future (Billions of $$$$ lost in a very short period of time); TV and Commercial Revenue! It’s about time the players have a p;ace to turn when owners think without them the players must sink or swim in their pool. Meaning if you (players) don’t swim in our pool you drown. If Singers, Actors and other types of entertainers who have made millions of dollars displaying talents overseas, why can’t NBA Players? The bottom line in the age we live is the almighty dollar. Plus USA dollars have less value than Euro currency. The average person knows that a fan is a fan no matter where they live. A European fan base can only expand the more with the NBA player sporting their wares in the arenas in their country.There is a Russian owner in NY, what would stop him from taking his team over seas if need be, he then could resign Williams. This is a wakeup call to the NBA ownership, stop being so greedy and end this lock out or loose the Cash Cow that you have controlled unopposed from its inception. Really, i’d like to see many of Major players sign with Euro teams just to see how this would play out.I agree with the statement made by one other comment person, “The Players are the game”.

  35. Alperinho says:

    Mr. Smith, just a reminder; Mr. Şeref Yalçın is the Chief of Basketball Operations of Beşiktaş, not the President. The President is Yıldırım Demirören.

    Now to basketball; I don’t believe that Coach Ataman actually meant that Beşiktaş was interested in signing Kobe, it was just a showoff to the other giants of the Turkish League who have taken over the last 20-30 seasons, where Besiktas has not been a contender-that Besiktas is willing to match their power. Kobe’s addition would be great and all but as a Besiktas fan I am content with Deron. He would be a great addition and a great merchandise sales boost but he can only be helpful if he plays a full season. If he and Zaza joins, Besiktas would be an automatic contender for both the Turkish title and the ULEB Cup.

    I believe the NBA players are better off playing in Russia than in Turkey, (I would have added Greece as a great league to play in but due to the economic crisis, I don’t know what to say) but still the Turkish Basketball community is a very old one, and the die-hard fans can be found anywhere for any team. Allen Iverson loved Istanbul and Besiktas, I was only hoping that he would stay healthy and for another year, but the wheels of history have turned and now we are now looking forward to add Deron to our squad.

  36. burak says:

    welcome to beşiktaş..turkish buldozer deron williams and zaza

  37. darko says:

    Also the lighter schedule in Europe is healthier, career extending, even. . .

  38. Nacho says:

    Kobe Bryant?In Turkey?KOBE BRYANT?!
    You can´t be serious.As a Laker fan, i´d cry is this happened.It won´t.I hate the fact that NBA players leave the league,and i can´t find a guilty side in the lockout;everybody says the owners are the bad guys but i´m not sure thats true.They want a 50-50 split.Anyway, i think players should keep some 53 or 54 percent, because, after all, they make the NBA what it is.

    • lakersforever says:

      dude chill all contracts in turkey would only be vaild during the lockout after the lockout all nba players would return to their perspective teams

      • D41 says:

        Dude chill, it’s like lakers4ever said once the lockout ends everyone will be back, besides I think it’s a fantastic idea that this superstars go overseas and play real basketball, real physical basketball, this will be like USA training camp for them. They can get accostumed to that style of play come 2012 in London and we can whoop some serious butt on the Olimpics, even better than we did on Beijing.

  39. Kenny says:

    The people involved in all of this need to just realize how and why they are getting their money in the first place.. The fans. Without the fans, there would be no NBA. No one would get paid. Without NBA games going on.. Where will the fans be? What are they going to do? They need to come up with a deal before I have to resort to watching The MLS.

    • Michael says:

      I’m with you on that except the soccer part… but either way they should just make it cheaper for us to go see games but that’ll never happen =(

  40. Aussiehart says:

    I am from Australia and I love the idea of a few stars playing abroad. Problem is the least paid player in the NBA earns more in one season than a hole NBL team in Australia put together. not to many leagues around the world can compete with NBA financially. Would love to see some All stars down under.

  41. Akim says:

    European teams may employ only a handful of players… Turkey, Russia have money, Spain & Greece are at crisis. What others NBA players will do? It will popularize basketball in Europe but not a solution for NBA players. NBA would not be affected much. After all majority of the players will stay in US and unemployed.

  42. Backlash says:

    this is good ..I hope a lot of them go to play overseas , lets see what the NBA owners are gonna do then ..when they’re losing money and the players aren’t ..it uh put pressure on em.

  43. bj says:

    kobe on turkey?no way……………

  44. watcher says:

    Good idea for all. The players get to travel the world and see how the rest of the pro basketball world makes do without private jets and luxury accommodation, the international fans get to see their NBA idols (or whatever) up close and personal and the league itself will win with the natural flow on effect of interest these players will likely attract (and bring back to the NBA) at their new international stations. Not to mention the added interest of other strong international leagues from U.S. fans who may or may not follow their favourite players abroad. All for it.

  45. kazim says:

    besiktas is a rich team, they can afford kobe even james, it is all about they want him or not? if he said he wants to talk with kobe , it means they can afford him

    • McLovin says:

      They MIGHT be able to spend the money to get players like Kobe or LeBron, it’s a matter of those players wanting to play for those teams who really mean nothing to them other then a year to stay basketball fit. I really don’t see any elite players next to Deron trying this out, and certainly not all to one team in Turkey.

    • Tim@Miami says:

      Kazim. I donot agree with you.. 27 million for a basketball player in Turkey..For a soccer player, may be but a basketball player..

  46. Jolan says:

    Nice to see some players go over seas if there is a lock out. then we can still watch them hopefully. kobe i think is a toss up tho. does he play or stay and try and get healthy, either way he isn’t going to turky. plus if bigger named players do take the risk, then owners will not like that. if kobe hand a career ending injury, imagine the affect of that, or dwill gets hurt.

  47. Parai says:

    why not sign Brian ScaLabrine, it’LL sureLy make your team a contender..haha

  48. Parai says:

    are u kiddin me MR Ergin Ataman.?? u want kobe to play for your team? yah know u can’t afford Kobe man.. $27M a year.. that’s crazy..

    • Vlad says:

      27 mil when there is a CBA.

      Right now…there isn`t. So those 27 mil are practicaly 0.

      Of course…very small chances for Kobe to play in Turkey, but from a finiancial point of view, everybody in the NBA is earning 0, so that means everybody is afortable.

  49. Ed_Curry_wannabe_NOT says:

    So… D-Will is doing the “Turkey” trot…
    What if Deron and a few of his “colleagues” play in Europe and decide they like it???
    As a “Law and Order” fan (hey… no jokes), imagine the legal back and forth this could cause… I wonder if our boys will come back… what if the experience opens the door for cross-promotion???
    …”exhibition” games all over Europe (maybe in years to come, played by our college stars)…
    Kobe could lead the boyz to Rome and maybe AI could lead the college kids through Turkey (during Thanksgiving???)…
    Oh…h the legal merriment ensues…

  50. TWAN says:

    WOW!!! I hate to say I told you so, well actually I dont hate to say it at all. Like I was saying on your last blog, this was eventually going to become an option. People keep saying the game is bigger than the player. Well the players make the game. You all(especially David Stern) need to realize the game is everywhere. The NBA needs to focus less on trying to become a global entity. The NBA isn’t the only form of professional basketball, but it is the best. The reason it’s the best is because we have the best players. And that will always be the case unless; you know, we decide to lock them out or something crazy like that!! 😉

    • Carlos Oliveira says:

      Couldn’t agree more… I believe that signing for other clubs (European clubs in this case) is the best thing NBA players could do, ’cause it will force the owners back to conversations for the new CBA… I believe they (the owners) won’t risk too much and let the players go for other teams for a long time, increasing the risk of injuries that could affect their clubs performances…
      D-Will is going…Pachulia could go too…will be more like Kobe?Wade?I believe so, and that’s good for them, they keep the form, they get paid, they get more fans, more publicity…
      the bottom line is THE PLAYERS DO THE GAME, do the league, do the NBA as the best basketball league in the world… the owners have to realize this or it will be a long lockout…