Throughout the week we've begin to hear about NBA players who are signing deals for the upcoming season with teams overseas. With the league here in the states in the midst of a lockout that some experts are speculating may end up continuing through the fall and into the winter (at least), several players are exploring their options. Guys not only want a place to play to hone their skills during the lockout but I'm sure nobody wants to go without a paycheck for however long it takes for the NBA and its players to figure things out.
A handful of guys have already signed contracts with teams across the pond. Nenad Krstic, Hilton Armstrong, Sonny Weems, David Anderson, Mustafa Shakur and DaJuan Summers were all basically the first ones to elect to play outside of the NBA and keep getting paid. Former Philly 76ers forward Darius Songaila who barely played last season, signed with a team in Turkey for 2011-12. Unlike other deals players are signing, Songaila will have no ‘escape clause' meaning should the lockout end he will have to stay and finish out his contract with Galatasaray (his new team).
Friday was when we got out first superstar choosing to play some ball overseas, and that was New Jersey Nets point guard Deron Williams. His agent told ESPN that Williams was going to play for Turkish team Besiktas, the same team that Allen Iverson briefly played for last year. Reports are that Williams is going to sign a 1-year deal worth $5 million.
The coach of Besiktas, Ergin Ataman, has said that the team has also reached an agreement with Hawks center Zaza Pachulia and that they aren't done pursuing players yet. Ataman said that they would be talking with Kobe Bryant if he shows any interest in playing outside the NBA. Some guys that have shown interest, according to the players' union, are Knicks stars Amare' Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony. They were looking into the rules and asking for insurance information should they head over as well.
The same kind of curiosity has reached our own superstar, as Dwyane Wade said on Friday that he wouldn't rule out playing overseas if there is no NBA ball to be played here. "If there's an opportunity there, I'd consider it," said Wade, who is in Chicago working out and running camps. Right now he and Devin Hester are running basketball and football camps at the same high school. While being asked about the possibility of playing elsewhere and Deron Williams' choice to do so, Wade went on to say this:
"We've known that the lockout was a possibility for the last couple of the years. It's not just something that came overnight. [Williams] didn't wake up and say, ‘All right, go play in Turkey.' Obviously, this is something that he felt that if a lockout was to last a long time, ‘I would consider playing.' It's because of the game. He wants to play the game, wants to play it at a high level, and if we can't play in the NBA, he's going to take that opportunity to try to play somewhere else. Hopefully, we don't get to that point, but if we do, I'm sure a lot of guys will explore it."
Would Dwyane really head overseas if the NBA didn't get things straightened out in time for a season? Yeah, I think he would. I think a lot of guys from the association would do it. While people love to think about these superstar players only caring about making money, the truth is that they absolutely love playing basketball. Of course they are going to try and make as much money as they can, but that doesn't change the fact that many of them are still enjoying what they do.
If the highest level of basketball isn't going to be played in the United States next season, the players who don't want to sit out a season and play ball against the highest level that there is available are going to go where the games are. Now we know that D-Wade is interested. I'm willing to bet that we find out at some point how LeBron James and Chris Bosh feel about doing the same thing. Wouldn't it be funny if all three decided to sign with the same team so they can work on playing together? Well, I'd be laughing...and crying...since it would mean we have no NBA season.