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Lamar Odom wasn't Besiktas first choice as their import from the Los Angeles Lakers -- that honor would have gone to Kobe Bryant. The Turkish club that already employs NBA All-Star Deron Williams has apparently decided on Khloe Kardashian's husband as its second import, however, with plans for him to begin playing next week across the pond.
Odom will join the team based in Istanbul next week, according to ESPN's Marc Stein, and would make more than $2 million in salary if he finishes the season out in Turkey. Like most NBA players taking their talents abroad, however, he will have an option in his contract to return stateside once the lockout is complete.
The Lakers forward will join a couple of fellow locked out NBA players with the Turkish squad. Williams, the New Jersey Nets standout point guard, and Semih Erden -- a center who finished last season with the Cleveland Cavaliers -- are already on the roster. Marcelus Kemp, a former NBA Draft candidate out of Nevada, is another name that might be familiar to American basketball fans.
Besiktas has lost just one game in the regular season thus far this season, but Williams was unable to lead them to victory in their Euroleague qualifying games. The team is instead playing in the Eurochallenge where they are 3-0 after Williams scored 50 in the team's last game.
It has been a little while since an NBA star has taken his talents to Europe, but Tyreke Evans has decided to buck that trend. The Sacramento Kings guard will play across the pond until the NBA lockout is over after agreeing to a contract with Virtus Roma in Italy.
The 6-foot-6 guard averaged 17.8 points, 5.6 rebounds and 4.8 assists for the Kings in his second season, but he's obviously decided that playing abroad offers a solid opportunity until the lockout is settled.
Virtus Roma, sponsored by Lottomatica, plays in Italy's top division. The club has a solid history -- aside from a lackluster season last year that got them removed from the prestigious Euroleague -- but it's perhaps most famous for hosting Brandon Jennings when he decided to play in Europe for a season prior to the NBA Draft.
Evans will join a team that is 3-4 through its first seven games of the season with a roster that includes former NBA center Uros Slokar and Clay Tucker, an annual Summer League invitee that has spent the majority of his career abroad after a pair of seasons in the NBA Development League.
Patty Mills, a restricted free agent of the Portland Trail Blazers, has left his native Australia's National Basketball League to take a deal with a Chinese Basketball Association club, possibly the Xinjiang Flying Tigers, reports the Sydney Morning Herald.
The point guard had appeared in nine regular season games for the Melbourne Tigers, and according to the Morning Herald has sparked unprecedented interest in the league. But his deal with Melbourne included out clauses to return to the NBA or take a more lucrative offer. The Chinese deal would seem to fall under the latter.
There is an impact on the Blazers or any NBA team hoping to sign Mills to an offer sheet should the NBA lockout end before the season is lost, though: the Chinese league doesn't permit out clauses, which means Mills can't return to the NBA before March at the earliest. That nearly ensures that Mills will be added to the 2012 free agent class.
The latest NBA lockout news is probably going to make players a bit less hesitant to sign a contract overseas considering things like NBA-out clauses aren't a necessity if the league is indeed looking ahead to a "nuclear winter." If anything, it looks like it may have nudged Aaron Brooks a bit harder to look at that possibility consider the Phoenix Suns guard has decided to sign in China.
Brooks has reached an agreement to play for the Guangdong Southern Tigers, according to Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski. Brooks should be a popular player in China because of his time on the Houston Rockets with Yao Ming, as Wojnarowski points out.
Dongguang will also feature former NBA player James Singleton as well as fellow locked out NBAer Yi Jianlian. While Jianlian will be free to return to the NBA once the lockout ends, all of the American imports have been told that they must remain in China until the season ends.
Real Madrid has signed Oklahoma City Thunder forward Serge Ibaka for two months' worth of games, the team has confirmed (via The Basketball Post). Ibaka became a Spanish citizen this summer in order to represent the nation at EuroBasket. He was born in the Republic of the Congo, but immigrated to Spain as his basketball career developed.
He's a star defender at the NBA level, and last season became the youngest player to ever lead the NBA in blocked shots. (He finished second in block rate in the regular season, and first in the playoffs.) He replaced Jeff Green in the starting lineup after a midseason trade for Kendrick Perkins; with Ibaka, Perk, Nick Collison and Nazr Mohammed, the Thunder have perhaps the best defensive big man rotation in the league.
Real stars one other locked-out NBA player: Rudy Fernandez, who was traded to the Dallas Mavericks on draft day and has one more season in America before being able to play in Spain full-time. Real also feature Rockets prospect Sergio Llull, former Blazer Sergio Rodriguez, Jazz prospect Ante Tomic and Bulls draftee Nikola Mirotic.
The NBA lockout does not seem like it will be ending anytime soon, especially following the mess that happened on Thursday as talks between the owners and players broke down. Knowing that, it makes sense that more players will take their talents to Europe as the chance of NBA season gets further and further out of sight -- with J.J. Hickson to Israel making his move over night.
Hickson, one of the few bright spots on the Cleveland Cavaliers roster before being traded to the Sacramento Kings prior to the lockout, has signed to play in Israel for Bnei Hasharon until the lockout ends. The forward will replace Washington Wizards forward Trevor Booker as he returns to the United States from an injury that will take several weeks to recover from, according to the press release.
Hickson will join a few player with recognizable names to fans of stateside basketball as former Baylor Bears backcourt members Tweety Carter and LaceDarius Dunn play for Bnei Hasharon along with fellow NCAA standouts Delroy James of Rhode Island and Creighton's Kenny Lawson.
After heading to Russia to escape the NBA lockout, it appears DeJuan Blair's experiment with European pro basketball is over just a few games after it began. The team, Krasnye Krylya Samara, announced today that it has released Blair after four games, according to a report from Sportando.net.
As the team's GM explained, "DeJuan helped us to to get to the main draw of VTB League. It was the most important goal for us for the first part of the season. We thank him for the brilliant performances he had in these games."
And Blair seems happy with how it turned out. "My trip to Russia and the performances with the team have been great and very interesting for me. It will be an unforgettable experience. In Russia I have lived in a different culture and the girls are just incredibly beautiful. I found not only a strong team but also good friends that I will visit one day, maybe next summer."
In other words, it may have been shortlived, but it certainly sounds like both parties are walking away happy, and that's a welcome change from the basketball stories we've been following back in the United States.
Thabo Sefolosha has yet to make himself a household name since entering the league as a first round draft pick with the Chicago Bulls during the 2006-07 season. Considering the defensive stopper has been a full-time starter with the Oklahoma City Thunder the past couple of seasons, however, it was likely that the Swiss-born Sefolosha was bound to get recognition soon ... and then the NBA lockout happened and he instead signed a deal to play in Turkey.
Sefolosha has inked a deal Fenerbahce Ulker, a team that already features a few former NBA fringe players in Curtis Jerrells, James Gist and Roko Ukic along with New Jersey Nets draft pick Bojan Bogdanovic, his agent told The Oklahoman.
"It's extremely difficult to predict if we're going to get a quick solution or if it's going to become a much more protracted battle with the owners regarding the new CBA. We waited until the last moment and then that moment passed," Sefolosha's agent, Guy Zucker, told the newspaper. "Now they're beginning to cancel games, and this could last for quite sometime. So Thabo wanted to play, and this was too good of an opportunity to pass up on."
Sefolosha will have an NBA-out clause in his contract with Fenerbahce so that he's able to return to the Thunder whenever the lockout is complete. He's under contract for nearly $12 million in Oklahoma City through the 2013-14 season.
I will be playing for Fenerbahçe Ülker in Turkey until an agreement is reached between players and owners! I am really excited to discover a new city and a new culture!
Yi Jianlian will return to China and play for the Guangdong Tigers of the Chinese Basketball Association if the NBA lockout continues, reports Michael Lee of the Washington Post. Yi is an unrestricted free agent, given that the Washington Wizards -- who traded for the forward a year ago -- declined to extend Jianlian a qualifying offer that would have made him a restricted free agent. In an interesting twist, Lee reports that Yi was able to include an opt-out clause in his contract with Guangdong, unlike fellow NBA free agents in China like J.R. Smith and Kenyon Martin.
The CBA approved a rule last month barring foreign players from having opt-out deals that would allow them to leave China if the NBA lockout were to end. But as a Chinese national, Yi is under no such rules. It remains to be seen, however, how strictly the CBA will enforce the rule: Earl Clark, last of the Orlando Magic, has reportedly already left his Chinese team.
After Tuesday's depressing news about the NBA lockout, it's only fitting that a high-profile player announces his signing with an overseas team. This time, it's Tony Parker, who signed with ASVEL Villeurbanne in his native France.
Parker, who averaged 17.5 points and 6.6 assists per game for the Spurs last season, is originally from Paris, but decided to sign with ASVEL Villeurbanne, a team based in Villeurbanne, which is on the outskirts of Lyon, France's third-most populous city. The team has called a press conference for Thursday to announce the signing.
He will miss the team's first game of the season, which is this weekend, but will join them next week for their game against Paris-Levallois.
For more Spurs chatter (hint: it's probably also about the lockout), head over to Pounding the Rock.
Andrei Kirilenko, a free agent forward of the Utah Jazz, has signed a contract to play with CSKA Moscow in his native Russia during the NBA lockout. FIBA.com reports that Kirilenko signed a three-year deal with CSKA, but the deal includes an opt-out clause that would allow the forward to return to the NBA if the lockout ends. As a free agent, Kirilenko did not have to include an opt-out clause in his deal under FIBA regulations. Kirilenko also said that he will donate all of his salary earned in Russia to charity.
Kirilenko wouldn't be expected to stay with the Jazz, the only NBA team he's ever played for. Rumors have suggested that the New Jersey Nets would be interested in bringing AK in, based in equal parts on the team's lack of depth at small and power forward, and Kirilenko's relationships with Nets star Deron Williams and owner Mikhail Prokhorov.
CSKA Moscow competes in the Euroleague in addition to the Russian domestic league.
A number of players are heading overseas to play professional basketball during the NBA lockout, and Manu Ginobili may soon be counted among their ranks. However, if the Argentinian star does make the trek overseas, it's not going to be just anywhere. According to an article at Basquet Plus, Ginobili would only consider playing for one team other than the San Antonio Spurs this season, and that's his former team Virtus Bologna, who has made him an offer.
Virtus was the last team that Ginobili played for before he moved to the NBA. In his time there, Ginobili won the Italian Lega Basket Serie A, the Euroleague, the Italian Cup, an two Italian League MVP awards and a Euroleague MVP award. Said Ginobili, regarding an offer from the club:
"Todavía no rechacé la propuesta del Bolonia. Allí me sentí muy cómodo durante el tiempo que jugué. Además, a mi esposa Marianela le encanta Italia."
Roughly translated, Ginobili said that he has not yet rejected the proposal he received from Virtus, that he enjoyed his time there, and that his wife loves Italy. Ginobili also said in the interview that he has rejected a proposal to play for Flamengo in Brazil.
Virtus has one former NBA player on their roser, Chris Douglas-Roberts. The team is also rumored to be perusing Kobe Bryant. They are not currently involved in either Euroleague or Eurocup competition.
Virtus Bologna has announced that it is speaking with Rob Pelinka, the agent for Kobe Bryant, in an effort to bring the L.A. Lakers' superstar back to Italy should the NBA lockout remain unresolved. Via Kevin Ding, the Italian club announced on its website that management will speak to Pelinka on Thursday.
Kobe's camp has spoken with at least one other club, as talks with Turkish side Besiktas -- which signed Deron Williams of the New Jersey Nets in July -- dragged on for a couple weeks. But the Besiktas deal fell through, and chatter about Kobe playing overseas died down.
Virtus Bologna last week signed free agent Chris Douglas-Roberts, last of the Milwaukee Bucks and previously of the Nets, to a deal. As was the case with Besiktas, the team is looking for sponsors to pick up the tab for Kobe, at least in part. Bryant spent a chunk of his childhood in Italy while his father, Joe Bryant, played professionally with Mike D'Antoni and others. Kobe is speaks fluent Italian.
Austin Daye was selected by the Detroit Pistons with the 15th overall pick in the 2009 NBA Draft, but the forward has yet to make much of an impact on the NBA. A team in Russia is taking the chance that the former Gonzaga Bulldog will be able to make an impact across the pond, however, as they've signed Daye to a three-month contract -- or until the lockout ends, whichever comes first.
Daye inked a deal in Russia according to NBA
reporter player Jared Dudley, a forward for the Phoenix Suns and one of Daye's workout partners this summer at Impact Basketball in Las Vegas. Daye later sent out a tweet that he has an out-clause in his contract, allowing him to return to the states as soon as the lockout is finished.
The Pistons' forward didn't clarify which team he'll playing for while in Russia, but CSKA Moscow, Unics Kazan and BC Khimki seem to be the best bets since all are involved in Euroleague action.
Kenyon Martin becomes the fifth member of the Denver Nuggets to sign a deal to play overseas during the NBA lockout. Like J.R. Smith and Wilson Chandler, he'll be playing in China.
Danilo Gallinari will play in Italy this season, returning to his home country and the team he starred with prior to the beginning of his NBA career. Gallo will play for Armani Milan, an Italian team slated to play in the Euroleague this season, until the end of the NBA lockout.
Gallinari needed to include an NBA-out in his contract considering he's still owed over $4 million from the Denver Nuggets this season, but until the owners and his fellow players are able to figure out a solution to the Collective Bargaining Agreement, Gallinari will ply his trade closer to home.
The Italian forward played three seasons with Armani Milan in the past, starting at the age of 17, and racked up a couple of accomplishments along the way including the Euroleague's Rising Star Trophy for his play during the 2007-08 season. Now, in his second tour of duty, Gallinari will join former NBA players Malik Hairston and Omar Cook until the lockout is settled.
Kevin Seraphin, little-used rookie for the Washington Wizards last season, will play in the Euroleague this season during the NBA lockout. The former No. 17 overall pick has signed a deal with Caja Laboral in Spain.
In his first season with the Wizards, Seraphin played 58 games for Washington while averaging an underwhelming 2.7 points and 2.6 rebounds while earning one start. A native of Franch, Seraphin recently helped the French National Team to a second-place finish at the EuroBasket tournament while helping the team to a berth at the 2012 London Olympics.
Signing with Caja Laboral was probably the best move the youngster could make this offseason. Seraphin was known to be raw prior to the Draft, but his length adds to the potential impact he might someday be able to make on an NBA court and more experience will only help move him closer to his ceiling.
Rudy Fernandez has signed in Spain for the upcoming season after being traded to the Dallas Mavericks on the night of the NBA Draft. Fernandez, a Spanish native, will play for Real Madrid in the Euroleague.
Fernandez is under contract next season for a little over two million dollars in the NBA, meaning his contract with Real Madrid will end whenever the NBA lockout does, but a return to the Euroleague has been in the cards for quite some time as there were numerous reports that he was unhappy with his role with the Portland Trail Blazers.
The Spaniard is no stranger to playing in Spain as he spent the first eight seasons of his basketball career in the Spanish ACB before taking his talents to the NBA, but this will be his first time playing for Real Madrid as the rest of his Spanish career was spent with Joventut Badalona.
Boris Diaw told Wendell Maxey of NBA.com that should the NBA lockout extend into the regular season, the French forward will play for a second-tier team in France that he co-owns. Diaw, the last man standing from the most recent era of Charlotte Bobcats basketball (Matt Carroll excepted), has one season remaining on his NBA contract.
Diaw is a part owner of JSA Bordeaux Basket and the team president, and his brother Martin plays for the club. It competes in France's Pro B, so you definitely won't be seeing Diaw's games televised or streamed in any form. Nicolas Batum has also agreed to play in France during the lockout, but he chose the more high-profile Pro A team SLUC Nancy.
Diaw, Batum and Spurs star Tony Parker -- who has also indicated interest in playing in France during the lockout -- are all playing for the French national team at EuroBasket 2011. France has advanced to the quarterfinals.
For more on Diaw and the Bobcats, visit SB Nation's Rufus On Fire.
Chris Douglas-Roberts is the latest NBA player to make his way overseas during the NBA lockout, as Italian side Virtus Bologna has announced the addition of the Milwaukee Bucks wing (via Sportando and HoopsHype). Douglas-Roberts, who played at Memphis and was drafted by the New Jersey Nets with the No. 40 pick overall in 2008, is an unrestricted free agent in the NBA. It's not clear whether his contract with Bologna includes a clause allowing him to return to the NBA should the lockout end. (UPDATE: Sportando reports that the team has confirmed that there is not an NBA opt-out clause in Douglas-Roberts' contract. He's in Italy for the year.) FIBA requires an opt-out clause be added to contracts only for players under NBA contract.
Three years in, it remains unclear what type of NBA role Douglas-Roberts will fill going forward. He's not a terribly prolific scorer (13 points per 36 minutes in each of his three seasons) or potent shooter (career 28.6 percent on three-pointers). He played 1,700 minutes for the awful 2009-10 Nets, but only got off the bench for a little more than half of Milwaukee's games last season.
For more on the Bucks and Douglas-Roberts, visit SB Nation's Brew Hoop.
Denver Nuggets fans may need to point their satellite dishes east next season to see their favorite players, as a third Nuggets free agent -- veteran power forward Kenyon Martin -- is in talks to sign in China for the 2011-12 season, reports Benjamin Hochman of the Denver Post. Denver restricted free agent Wilson Chandler has already signed in China, and unrestricted free agent guard J.R. Smith has reportedly entered negotiations on a $3 million deal with a Chinese club.
Hochman reports that Martin's deal would be the richest in Chinese Basketball Association history; ESPN's Marc Stein singles out the team chasing Martin as Xinjiang Guanghui, based in the northwestern city of Urumqi. Xinjiang went 31-1 during the CBA regular season last year behind an MVP campaign from former Sacramento Kings first-round pick Quincy Douby; Douby will indeed be back with Xinjiang on a $2 million contract. The team has also hired American Bob Donewald, who coaches the Chinese national team, to run the squad.
Martin is 33 years old, but when healthy is still considered a plus defender and a decent enough supplementary offensive option.
Denver Nuggets guard J.R. Smith is reportedly closing in on a deal that would make him the highest-paid player in the Chinese Basketball Association.
Utah Jazz center Mehmet Okur became the latest NBA player to sign for a European professional team, joining Turkey's Turk Telekom Ankara at least until the NBA lockout ends. The Turkey native could join his new team as soon as this weekend. Okur's agent, Marc Fleisher, said the only thing holding up the move is a minor visa issue.
"He didn't feel that the option to go play in pick-up games are what he needed," said Fleisher, who stated that Okur is close to 100-percent health and will be insured while playing overseas. "He chose this and it's a good team. He knows the league very well and it's a good opportunity for him to play at a high level. And when the lockout ends, he'll come back and be rearing to go."
Among the players he may face in Turkey is former Jazz teammate Deron Williams, who recently joined Besiktas.
The 32-year-old Okur is coming off a season that was shortened to just 13 games because of injury. He averaged just 4.9 points, 2.3 rebounds and 12.9 minutes, all of which probably contributed to his desire to get real games under his belt while the lockout extends beyond two months. Those were Okur's worst numbers during his nine-year NBA career, in which he's averaged 13.7 points and 7.1 rebounds per game.
Young Phoenix Suns forward Gani Lawal appears to be the newest NBA player to head abroad during the NBA lockout. The 22-year-old Lawal, who played his college basketball at Georgia Tech, did not see much time with the Suns last season, partially due to an ACL injury. He'll be heading to Zastal Zielona Góra in Poland, which might not be a bad career move for Lawal even if the NBA lockout ends shortly.
Between the lockout and the Suns drafting Markieff Morris, Lawal is almost certainly best served by a move abroad. It doesn't do 22-year-old fringe NBA players with NBA-level raw talent any good to sit around. Lawal needs to be playing basketball regularly to advance his career, and he's going to get a much better chance to do that in Poland than he was going to get in the United States.
Lawal is believed to have an opt-out clause in his contract that would allow him to return to the NBA if the lockout ended.
Andrew Bogut's camp is talking to several teams in Australia's National Basketball League this week in an attempt to have the 7-foot Aussie playing Down Under during the NBA lockout, reports the continent's ABC News (via HoopsHype). According to the Melbourne Herald-Sun, there's currently a $500,000 insurance tab to be picked, which is causing the biggest problems. But Bogut's agent suggests the Herald-Sun that the sum could decrease with some creative contract working.
Bogut is the most high-profile Aussie in the NBA. His countryman Patty Mills agreed last week to play in the NBL during the lockout. Mills is playing for Australia as the nation attempts to qualify for the 2012 London Olympics this summer; Bogut is not, due to insurance.
Bogut's health has been a question since a gruesome injury suffered late in the 2009-10 season; the center broke his arm, and it was evident that there remained healing to be done as he shot an awful percentage in the 2010-11 season.
DeJuan Blair has signed a deal to play with Krasnye Krylya of Russia's Professional Basketball League during the NBA lockout, reports the indomitable Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports. Blair is under contract with the San Antonio Spurs. Under FIBA rules, Blair's contract must include a clause allowing the power forward to return to the Spurs when the lockout ends.
NBA lottery pick Joe Alexander and former Celtic Gerald Green played for Krasnye Krylya last season; Woj reports that Alexander and former Wizard Jarvis Hayes will join Blair this season. Krasnye Krylya, based in the southwestern city of Samara, is not eligible for Euroleague or Eurocup.
Blair signed a four-year, $3.8 million deal with the Spurs after S.A. took him in the second round in 2009. Despite an incredible college career at Pitt, Blair slipped on concerns of his lack of ACLs due to multiple knee injuries. He's remained healthy in the pros. His 2011-12 contract with the Spurs, however, is only guaranteed up to $500,000, though, and his 2012-13 contract is fully unguaranteed.
Wilson Chandler was the first NBA player to sign in China and forego playing in the NBA once the lockout ends, but he may not be the last. Nick Young, who led the Washington Wizards in scoring last year, is also receiving "major interest" from Chinese teams, agent Aaron Mintz tells ESPN's Marc Stein.
Young, like Chandler, is a restricted free agent. Once the lockout ends, he is free to sign with any NBA team, but the Wizards could match the contract. If he signs in China, though, there is nothing the Wizards can do. They would retain his rights for the future, but without a contract, Young would not be obligated to return.
The Chinese Basketball Association recently outlawed signing NBA players while giving them an out to return to the NBA once the lockout ends. Chandler decided to sign in China anyway. Perhaps Young is next.
For more reaction to this report, visit Bullets Forever.
San Antonio Spurs forward Dejuan Blair is the latest NBA player to be linked with a possible move to Europe, as a Russian team is reportedly in "serious talks" to acquire his services. Blair has averaged about 8 points per game during his first two NBA seasons.
Spurs forward Dejuan Blair is engaged in serious talks to play in Russia during NBA lockout, sources tell Y! Deal could be struck this week.less than a minute ago via UberSocial for BlackBerry Favorite Retweet ReplyAdrian Wojnarowski
If Blair were to go to Europe, he'd be joining at least 16 other NBA players who have opted to make the move abroad, rather than waiting to see how the NBA labor situation plays out. The NBA lockout is now nearly two months old with few signs that it is ending anytime soon.
J.A. Adande of ESPN reports that Wilson Chandler has signed a one-year deal in China with the Zhejiang Golden Bulls of the Chinese Basketball Association. The terms of the deal beyond length aren't known, though Adande reports that Chandler will be paid more than the $1.7 million reported in recent rumors but less than the $3.1 million Chandler would be eligible for via a qualifying offer from the Denver Nuggets. Chandler, who was a part of the Carmelo Anthony trade last February, is a Nuggets' restricted free agent.
The CBA passed a rule earlier in August banned clubs from signing players under NBA contract and also prohibiting opt-out clauses allowing players to end their Chinese contracts in the event of the NBA lockout ending. That means Chandler will be in China all season, no matter what happens with the lockout. It also means that unless NBA rules change, Chandler will remain a restricted free agent in 2012.
Chandler is the first current starting-level NBA player to sign in China. More than two dozen players have signed in Europe and South America.
Top Washington Wizards draft pick Jan Vesely had been considering returning overseas in the event of a long lockout, but has instead decided to stay in the U.S. Vesely's agent Alexander Raskovic tells Michael Lee of the Washington Post that Vesely decided it wasn't worth risking injury to return to play for his former club team or any other European club team.
"We don't want to risky any injury," Raskovic wrote in an e-mail. "Why put in risk future career and why not show respect to the Wizards? They drafted him! He should come ready and healthy to play with the Wizards."
Vesely could have returned to play for Partizan Belgrade in the Czech Republic, his old club team. Instead, he will spend more time training, likely on the skills the Wizards specifically want him to improve.
For instant reaction to Vesely's decision, SB Nation's Wizards blog Bullets Forever has analysis right here.
Patty Mills, a restricted free agent of the Portland Trail Blazers, has signed a deal with the Melbourne Tigers of Australia's National Basketball League. The Canberra-born point guard has seen limited action in the NBA after being drafted by the Blazers in the second round in 2009 out of St. Mary's, but he remains enormously popular on his home continent, reports the Melbourne Herald Sun.
The Tigers are expecting sell-out crowds and a huge TV audience for his homecoming.
"Melbourne Tigers are anticipating sell-out crowds," Tigers owner Seamus McPeake said.
"Every venue we go to people will want to see Patty play. The hype around Harry Kewell and Brett Emerton was big, (but) this is a bigger coup for sport in the country.
"OK, they're playing EPL, but nothing beats the NBA."
Harry Kewell is a popular Australian footballer with English Premier League experience who transferred this season back to Melbourne from his Turkish club, giving some momentum to Australia's league.
Mills does reportedly have an NBA opt-out clause in his contract, which means that he can still participate in NBA free agency, should the 2011-12 season ever begin.
French club BCM Gravelines has announced the signing of Atlanta Hawks forward Pape Sy for the 2011-12 season. Gravelines, based in northern France, competes in the Pro A league but not Euroleague or Eurocup. The Hawks signed Sy to a three-year minimum contract in 2010 after making him a surprise No. 53 pick in the 2010 draft. Sy was born in France to Senegalese parents, and played for Le Havre in the Pro A for five years before jumping to the NBA.
Sy, 23, had just a cup of coffee with the Hawks last season, appearing in three regular season games and four playoff matches. He got 23 games in at the D-League Utah Flash, averaging 8 points and 3.4 rebounds in 22 minutes a match.
Sy is cheap, which means there is little risk in keeping him for the Hawks, unless there's a roster size issue. The Hawks have Marvin Williams, Josh Smith and Joe Johnson on the wings and under contract going forward, plus the Bird rights to Jamal Crawford. But the Hawks don't have to make a decision any time soon.
The official playing channels in China have been closed off to locked-out NBA players, as the Chinese Basketball Association blocked the signing of players under NBA contract for this season. But the long-rumored barnstorming tour of China might work around that. In a chat with SI.com's Zach Lowe, All-Star Kevin Love hints that news on the tour may be around the corner.
SI.com: You mentioned in a recent interview that you had heard about a possible barn-storming tour through China. Has anything further come of that? Is it developing, or was it just something someone mentioned to you at some point and that hasn't been brought up much since?
Love: Oh, it's very real. I can't put the specifics out there. But it's a fair amount of games in China for a very substantial amount of money. That's all I can tell you right now.
Not just a substantial amount of money: a very substantial amount. That's good news for the NBA stars who haven't signed in Europe already, which is to say it's good news for every NBA star but Deron Williams. Players who participated in a two-game exhibition set in the Philippines in early August reportedly pulled in good six-figure coin.
The official NBA Summer League was cancelled due to the NBA lockout, much to everyone's chagrin. Interestingly enough, however, it seems that there is still a chance Las Vegas could still host some of the best NBA players playing for their regular season teams.
Joe Abunassar, the head trainer at the famed Las Vegas-based Impact Academy, told Sports Illustrated's Sam Amick that the NBA lockout isn't going to completely keep Vegas from being descended upon by some of the best basketball players for two weeks this year -- it'll just be in September instead of July.
Amick reports that more than 50 players will be descending on Sin City to take part in a league at Impact Academy, starting on Sept. 12, but the exciting part is that a couple of complete NBA teams might compete.
According to Impact owner and renowned trainer Joe Abunassar, the Clippers' Blake Griffin, Mo Williams and Randy Foye came by last week and expressed a desire to enter the league with a team made up solely of their teammates. Oklahoma City center Nazr Mohammed is trying to convince Kevin Durant, James Harden and others to do the same, while Indiana's Dahntay Jones and Denver's Al Harrington are making similar pitches to their respective teams.
Abunassar is planning for eight teams with roughly seven players apiece, but there could be a need for more teams once the rest of the NBA gets word of the league.
"It's a natural deal," Abunassar said. "Guys want to play, so this is a great service for guys. It keeps them in shape. They don't mind coming to Vegas. The difference between what we're doing and what other leagues are doing is that all five guys on the floor will be pros. It'll keep them in shape. It's a good thing for the NBPA."
Welp, if it ends up getting broadcast online, this might be a decent distraction in September.
Wilson Chandler isn't the biggest name to sign in Europe with the NBA lockout in place. He's one of the more established talents to do so, though, considering he's started 199 of his 254 NBA games thus far in his career.
Chandler, the Denver Nuggets versatile forward, has signed a contract to play with Italy's Olimpia Milano as the team attempts to get through the first stage of Euroleague competition.
Sportando, the European basketball site that first broke the deal, reports that Chandler will be paid roughly $500,000 for a contract that will last into the middle of December. The two sides will then re-evaluate the situation depending on the progress of the NBA lockout as well as the progress of Chandler's new European team.
Chandler doesn't have to return to the NBA at the end of the lockout considering he's a restricted free agent -- the Denver Nuggets have an option worth just over $3 million next season if the team wants to bring him back after acquiring him in a mid-season trade with the Knicks -- but the clause included in his contract certainly gives him quite a bit of flexibility.
It'll be interesting to see if more NBA players go the route of Chandler and decide to sign a couple-month contract in Europe rather than a full-season contract with the NBA-out option.
Craig Brackins, a power forward for the Philadelphia 76ers, has signed with Maccabi Ashdod of the the Israeli Super League, reports Sportando. Brackins appeared in just three games as a rookie for Philadelphia in the 2010-11 season, spending much of the campaign with Springfield Armor of the NBA D-League, where he averaged 20 points and 8.6 rebounds per game.
Maccabi Ashdod does not compete in Euroleague or Eurocup. Brackins is under contract with the Sixers, which means his deal with Ashdod must include a clause allowing him to return to Philadelphia when the NBA lockout ends. Brackins was the No. 21 pick in the 2010 NBA Draft out of Iowa State, and is due $1.4 million from the Sixers for the 2011-12 season.
Ashdod finished sixth in the Super League last season, and has also signed undrafted free agent Alex Tyus from the University of Florida. Israeli has seen the biggest share of signees from the NBA this offseason, including Jordan Farmar.
Perhaps Ron Artest won't be taking his talents to the British Basketball League during the NBA lockout after all. Artest's agent David Bauman tells Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Times that Artest's deal has been held up because the Cheshire Jets have yet to offer Artest an insurance package. If it is not offered, Artest would not join the British team.
"It's still on the table," Bauman said Tuesday in a phone interview. "But again, this insurance thing is a significant and a serious obstacle for any of the NBA players."
Last week, Jets director Pete Hawkins told the Cheshire Chronicle that the team is working on the insurance issue and continues to talk with Artest's camp about it. Artest has three years remaining on his contract with the Lakers. He had postponed his trip to meet with the team over this very issue.
Summer leagues have drawn quite a bit of attention this offseason as the NBA lockout looks to cost fans real live pro basketball in the United States for the foreseeable future. That's spurred Las Vegas-based gym Impact Basketball, led by popular trainer Joe Abunassar, to host a league for two weeks in September, reports Hoopsworld's Alex Kennedy.
Impact's league will draw on the gym's hefty client base and be limited to pros only (unlike the more common summer leagues like Goodman in Washington, D.C., Drew in Los Angeles, Melo in Baltimore and Rucker in New York). No players have committed, it seems, but Abunassar says that the league will feature two games a day and be played according to NBA rules.
It's being billed as a cross between a promotional vehicle for players who want to be on the court and a preparation for a season that might not start on time, if at all. We'll see if it has the desired effects.
Kyle Singler, who was selected by the Detroit Pistons with the third pick in the second round of the 2011 NBA Draft, has signed a deal with Lucentum Alicante in Spain, according to the team's Twitter feed (via Sportando). Singler, who was named the 2010 Final Four Most Outstanding Player in leading Duke to a national championship, will be able to return to the NBA if the lockout ends before the 2011-12 season is lost.
Lucentum Alicante has bounced between Spain's top two divisions over the past decade, finishing a safe but unspectacular 16th in the top-flight ACB last season. As such, Singler and the team won't be competing in any continental championships like Euroleague or Eurocup.
As an unsigned draft pick, Singler isn't obligated to return to the NBA midseason should the lockout end; that he has an opt-out clause shows that he feels he has a place with the Pistons and wants to make it in the top league in the world.
Omri Casspi's storybook return to Maccabi Tel Aviv in Israel during the NBA lockout won't actually materialize, reports Marc Stein of ESPN. Instead, Casspi could play for ASVEL Basket in Lyon, France -- the team owned by San Antonio Spurs guard Tony Parker.
France isn't the only destination that Casspi -- coveted by the Spurs since he was drafted No. 23 overall by the Kings in 2009 -- is considering as a lockout alternative. Various reports in the Israeli media say he's drawn interest from clubs in Russia and Spain.
The Sacramento Kings traded Casspi to the Cleveland Cavaliers on June 30, just hours before the onset of the lockout prevented further trades and free agent moves. Casspi was expected to compete for the starting small forward job in Cleveland, joining Cavs draft picks point guard Kyrie Irving and big man Tristan Thompson on a young core looking deep into the future.
Casspi had played for Maccabi before entering the NBA.
Reggie Williams has agreed to a deal with Spanish club Caja Laboral worth $1.5 million, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports. Williams' NBA rights are controlled by the Golden State Warriors, but the small forward is a restricted free agent, which means he has no obligation to return to the Bay Area should the NBA lockout end. However, there is a buy-out provision that would allow Williams to leave Laboral to return to the NBA this season, Woj reports.
Williams signed with the Warriors in the 2009-10 as a D-League call-up, and appeared in 80 games last season as Dorell Wright's back-up. He went undrafted out of VMI in 2008, but is considered an NBA-level secondary scorer; he shot 42 percent on three-pointers last season.
Vitoria-based Caja Laboral will compete in Euroleague this season, in addition to the Spanish ACB. Williams will join Bosnian power forward Mirza Teletovic, Timberwolves prospect Nemanja Bjelica and the infamous Maciej Lampe.
There were rumors that Kobe Bryant had agreed to terms with a team in the Chinese Basketball Association prior to the league blocking all NBA players from taking their talents to China. At least one enterprising team is still interested in trying to find a loophole for the Los Angeles Lakers All-Star, however.
Shanxi Zhongyu is apparently plotting to sign Bryant for some exhibition games prior to the beginning of the CBA season, according to Sina Sports (via HoopsHype). That seems like a decent opportunity to raise the marketing profile of both Bryant and the Chinese team he'll be playing for, but unfortunately even exhibition games could have raise some issues.
"As China's sports industry is controlled strictly by the government, there are many political and regulatory differences from the United States to be aware of," sports executive Matt Beyer explained to NiuBBall while talking about potential exhibition games featuring NBA players. "While a great idea may sell on its merits in the United States, that may not be the case in China."
The main reason it might not be approved, according to Beyer, is that it doesn't exactly help Chinese basketball get any better.
"China's sports system remains controlled tightly by the government," says Beyer. "The government is focused on breeding its own domestic talents and not simply importing and selling foreign sports entertainment as its political agenda."
The Kobe Bryant to China rumors probably won't ever die, but it seems every time there's a new rumor that pops up, a reason why it won't work does as well. Expect to hear about this again, in some form or fashion, in the not-so-distant future.
Keith Benson was picked by the Atlanta Hawks with the 48th overall pick in this year's NBA Draft. Kito's professional career won't begin stateside, however, as the Oakland (MI) alum has decided to sign with a team in Italy until the NBA lockout is settled.
Benson signed a contract with Dinamo Sassari for the upcoming season, according to a press release posted on the Italian team's website. The release notes that Benson has an opt-out clause to return stateside, but only for a guaranteed NBA contract with provisions keeping him in Italy if his American options are either signing a 10-day contract or being assigned to the NBA Development League.
Benson, a four-year standout at Oakland while guiding the team to consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances, will join a team that already employs a host of Americans. Former NBA player Travis Diener and his cousin Drake Diener will make up the Dinamo's backcourt while former Fresno State standout Quinton Hosley will man one of the wing positions.
With Benson signing in Italy, he becomes the sixth second round pick to sign overseas for the upcoming season. The other players include E`Twaun Moore, Jon Diebler, Lavoy Allen, Jon Leuer and Justin Harper.
Leandro Barbosa will return to his roots this year as the Toronto Raptors guard has signed a contract to play in Brazil for the upcoming basketball season. Barbosa's contract has an opt-out clause that will allow him to return to the Raptors once the NBA lockout is complete.
Barbosa, a Brazil native who was born Sao Paulo, signed a contract with Rio de Janeiro's Flamengo according to TSN's Tim Chisholm. Upon his return stateside, Barbosa will pick up his $7.6 million player option and return to Toronto -- if Toronto doesn't trade him first.
Barbosa has only played in 102 of 164 possible games over the course of the past two seasons due to various injuries. If the Raptors do decide to trade him whenever the lockout ends, due to ever-increasing injury concerns, Chisholm notes that Barbosa better stay healthy in Brazil.
Such a scenario could also significantly impact Barbosa's trade value if and when the lockout ends, as Barbosa is one of the club's most valuable pieces given his skill set and expiring contract. It's hard to tell at this juncture what the Raptors could get for him, exactly, but if he comes back to the NBA hobbled (again) you can bet it won't be a whole heck of a lot, at least not compared to what a fully healthy Barbosa could net the club on the open market.
Brazil isn't the best basketball in the world, at least as far as imported North Americans are concerned, but it's good that Barbosa will be able to play close to home while waiting out the lockout.
The NBA lockout is forcing players to take their talents overseas until the two sides are able to reach an agreement. Unfortunately for the players, however, one of the best opportunities to get paid across the pond is no longer an option as the Chinese Basketball Association has decided to block all players under NBA contract despite an earlier FIBA ruling.
The news from Far East comes courtesy of NiuBBall, citing a Sina Sports article, and will have plenty of adverse effects on NBA players still hoping to make a decent living until the NBA lockout is settled. China is one of the few places that could offer competitive salaries while helping NBA players increase their marketing reach, but none of that will be possible now.
The reason that the Chinese Basketball Association decided to outlaw the NBAers under contract, even though FIBA has given non-NBA teams the go-ahead as long as the players have an opt-out for whenever the lockout is complete, is that they were fearful of some teams skirting the rules they originally planned to put in place.
With quite a few of the high-level European clubs already set for the upcoming season, a lot of the higher-profile NBA players probably aren't happy with this news that limits their options across the pond.
Justin Harper was selected by the Orlando Magic with the 32nd pick in the 2011 NBA Draft, but the rookie from Richmond won't begin his professional career in Florida. Instead, Harper will be taking his talents to France until the NBA lockout is over after finalizing an agreement to play in France with SIG Strasbourg.
Harper, a 6-foot-9 forward, averaged 17.9 points and 6.9 rebounds with the Spiders this past season while helping Richmond to a second consecutive berth in the NCAA Tournament before falling to Kansas in the Southwest Regional's semifinal round.
Harper is the highest draft pick from this year's draft class to sign in Europe so far this offseason. According to the team's press release announcing his acquisition, he has an out-clause in his contract that would allow him to return the Magic as long as the NBA lockout ends prior to February.
The Chinese Basketball Association will vote this week on whether to block stars under NBA contract from signing with Chinese teams during the NBA lockout. NBA players have been flirting with the idea of signing contracts with teams abroad as NBA owners have locked them out, with little progress in view.
But the Chinese league isn't keen to the idea of renting players for an undetermined time period. FIBA, the international organization that governs global competition and sanctions all the major (and not-so-major leagues), has ruled that any contract signed by a player under NBA contract and a team in a FIBA-sanctioned league must include a provision that ends the contract and sends the player back to the NBA once the lockout ends. That has China bristling.
[T]he logic behind this decision for the government-run CBA remains in line with an overall policy that has remained in place for years: Putting the interests of Chinese basketball, namely the success of the national team, above all other interests, even ahead of potentially lucrative commercial ones. In their eyes, allowing a group of megastars to come to China as a lockout refuge to make a quick buck only to leave in the middle of the year would hurt the long-term development of its players and put teams, who would find themselves suddenly without an import player mid-season, in a tough situation.
Playing against better competition would surely do more for the development of Chinese players -- of which there are now one in the NBA, by the way -- than the expulsion of NBA players will. Besides, it's not as if American import retention rates in the CBA aren't already awful. Even without the lockout rule, a few Chinese teams will lose import players midseason. That's how it works in the minor leagues.
San Antonio swingman Danny Green earned a call-up from the D-League to the NBA this past season. Rather than waiting out the NBA lockout, however, Green has signed with Euroleague team Union Olimpija as he tries to avoid the uncertainly of having to go through that process again.
Green's contract with the Spurs included a non-guaranteed option with the team for the 2011-12 season, but with the lockout firmly in place -- and no end in sight -- the former second round pick has decided to sign with the Euroleague team in Slovenia for the upcoming season.
The former North Carolina star has played in 28 NBA games in a professional career that has so far seen him suit up for the Spurs and Cleveland Cavaliers along with the D-League's Erie BayHawks, Austin Toros and Reno Bighorns.
With Union Olimpija, Green will play with fellow Tarheel Deon Thompson as well as former NBA player Damir Markota and Ben Woodside, a standout point guard from North Dakota State University. Green represents the ninth NBA player to sign in the Euroleague so far this offseason.
Nikola Pekovic, a Minnesota Timberwolves center fresh off of his rookie season in the NBA, will return to Serbia to play for Partizan Belgrade during the NBA lockout, reports Jerry Zgoda of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. Pekovic, who hails from Montenegro, a nation that became independent from Serbia in 2006, played for Partizan from 2005 through 2008 before moving on to Greek power Panathinaikos and, eventually, the Wolves.
Minnesota made Pekovic the first pick in the second round of the 2008 NBA Draft, and in July 2010 signed him to the largest rookie deal ever signed by a second-round pick, a three-year contract worth $13 million. Pekovic, like every Wolf not named Kevin Love, had a disappointing 2010-11 season, averaging just 13.6 minutes per game off the bench. He largely played behind ineffective Serbian teammate Darko Milicic.
Partizan is the top club in Serbia, and also a major contender in the Adriatic League, which includes the top sides from the nations that once made up Yugoslavia. Partizan has won the past five Adriatic League titles.
Partizan will compete in Euroleague this season. That brings the number of players under NBA contract who have signed or are reported to be near deals with Euroleague clubs to eight.
Ty Lawson, the speedy Denver Nuggets point guard who emerged as a starter towards the end of last season, has signed a contract to play for Zalgiris Kaunas, a Lithuanian Club team. Benjamin Hochman of the Denver Post reported the news, and the club has confirmed it in a press release. The press release also confirms that Lawson's contract has an NBA out that allows him to return to the NBA once the lockout is resolved.
Zalgiris Kaunas is one of the top teams in Lithuania and boasts American players such as Sonny Weems of the Toronto Raptors and former St. Mary's star Omar Samhan. The club president is Arvydas Sabonis, the former Portland Trail Blazers star who was recently inducted into the Hall of Fame.
Lawson averaged just under 12 points and five assists per game last year, but averaged 14.4 points and seven assists per game in the second half of the season after taking over the starting point guard job following Chauncey Billups' trade to New York.
Omri Casspi, the NBA's first and only Israeli player, will re-join Maccabi Tel Aviv, the club he left in 2009, if the NBA lockout bleeds into the regular season, reports the Jerusalem Post via Marc Stein. Maccabi's owner David Federman told The Post that the team has been in advanced negotiations with Casspi's camp on a deal that would bring the Israeli star back for the 2011-12 season.
The Sacramento Kings made Casspi the No. 23 pick in the 2009 NBA Draft. Casspi started off his NBA career like gangbusters, but wore down over the course of his rookie season and had a rough second year. After acquiring small forward John Salmons via trade in June, the Kings sent Casspi and a conditional first-round pick to the Cleveland Cavaliers for J.J. Hickson.
Casspi was expected to lead Israel into EuroBasket 2011, where the nation is a severe underdog. But Casspi's status is uncertain after a knee injury during training.
Chicago Bulls forward Carlos Boozer wants to play basketball this fall, be it in the NBA or overseas. The latter appears the more likely option as the NBA lockout has no end in sight. Boozer recently spoke with ESPN The Magazine's Ric Bucher and said:
"If the NBA season gets delayed or postponed, I plan on using those months to experience something similar to what I did in the summer of 2008. That's why, if the lockout continues, I definitely plan on playing overseas."
Boozer did play for the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team in Beijing, which has already given him a taste of what to expect in international basketball. While Boozer didn't identify any particular place he would like to play, Bucher has a source that believes China is Boozer's preferred destination.
Boozer does have an injury history that could make this a risky move for him. Bulls fans should have legitimate worries over this potential move.
Markieff Morris became a professional basketball player for all intents and purposes when he was selected by the Phoenix Suns in the the most recent NBA Draft. It seems the lottery pick could begin his career not in the NBA, though, but rather in Greece with Panathinaikos.
Morris is in serious contract talks with Panathinaikos, according to Yahoo! Sports, which would make him the first first round pick to begin his career in Europe rather than the NBA due to the ongoing NBA lockout.
Panathinaikos, located in Athens, plays in the Euroleague and has won three of the last five championships in what many believe to be the second best basketball league in the world.
The timing of this deal is rather interesting as Euroleague president Jordi Bertomeu told SI's Ian Thomsen that the league just recently sent a proposal to the NBA that would discourage European players from heading to America as rookies.
If the former Kansas Jayhawks forward does agree to a deal with Panathinaikos, Morris will join a roster that already includes five players that spent their college careers in America as Nick Calathes, Pat Calathes, Mike Batiste, David Logan and Aleks Maric have all signed on for the upcoming season. Reigning Euroleague MVP Dimitris Diamantidis will also play another year for Panathinaikos.
The negotiations are in the beginning stages, and Durant's agent, Aaron Goodwin, is also investigating potential options for his client to play in Spain and Russia. Durant was recently in China for a promotional tour, but is not currently thinking about playing there.
"The Turkish option is very intriguing," Goodwin said. "We're looking at other countries as well. Kevin hasn't agreed to play anywhere yet, but we're looking for the best fit."
The Turkish newspaper VATAN has reported that Besiktas -- if ultimately rejected by [Kobe] Bryant after weeks of trying to get the Los Angeles Lakers' star swingman to commit to join New Jersey's Williams at the Istanbul club in the event of an extended lockout -- will shift its focus to trying to sign Durant.
It seems unlikely that a decision will happen anytime soon. Durant said last month that he wanted to "take it slow" and see what happened with the ongoing NBA Lockout. Williams' early decision to sign to play in Turkey doesn't really appear to be similar to Durant's approach here.
For more on the Oklahoma City Thunder, check out Welcome To Loud City.
Los Angeles Lakers wing Ron Artest, aka Metta World Peace, will reportedly sign a contract with the Cheshire Jets of the British Basketball League.
Magic forward Earl Clark has reportedly signed a one-year contract with the Zhejiang Lions in China, the first NBA player to agree to terms with a Chinese team.
If nothing else, Dirk Nowitzki has options should the NBA lockout continue. With the threat of a work-stoppage stretching into the 2011 season, many NBA stars are contemplating overseas offers, and Nowitzki appears to be no different. Already in demand in Europe, Nowitzki is now reportedly drawing interest from China, with a hefty dollar figure floated for his services.
According to a report on Tuesday morning, Nowitzki may have $1.5 million reasons to head to China during the NBA lockout.
Bayern Munich reportedly has had interest as would plenty of teams.
But could he turn down $1.5 million per month?
However, as noted earlier, the Chinese Basketball Association could block all NBA lockout rentals. Additionally, as Pro Basketball Talk notes, Nowitzki marches to the beat of his own drum, forgoing high-dollar sponsorships and lucrative endorsement deals, making an NBA lockout adventure in Germany, his native country, more realistic should the work-stoppage continue.
Carmelo Anthony is in Puerto Rico to do some charity work with his foundation. While the New York Knicks forward is down there, however, he's also being asked what his plans are if the NBA lockout forces missed games this fall.
Anthony's answers brought up a new possibility for locked out players, though, as he mentioned the small Central American country as a possible destination after previously bringing up the mainstays in China and Europe.
Nothing surprising in an NBA player considering playing in Europe or China, of course, but the juicy quote came while he was talking to Primera Hora.
"But with the lockout, and if things continue, I would not rule out playing in Puerto Rico. I'm keeping that option open and we'll see what deals there are."
This isn't exactly a realistic option because the BSN (Puerto Rico's NBA) only runs from March through July. If the NBA does end up cancelling its season, however, there's a good chance that players take a look at taking their talents to Puerto Rico.
The Peurto Rican league attracts some of the best non-NBA Americans each March as they pay good salaries and offer a nice transition destination between either the D-League or recently cut NBA players prior to the Summer League grind.
It'd be surprising if Anthony plays in Puerto Rico as Shavlik Randolph won the league's Import of the Year award this season, but it apparently hasn't been ruled out by the Knicks All-Star. Let's hope the NBA officially rules it out by deciding to play the upcoming season.
Mehmet Okur has carved out a nice little niche for himself in the NBA since coming from his native Turkey in 2001. The Utah Jazz forward is now reportedly looking at going back to Europe, however, until the NBA lockout is resolved.
Okur is in talks with Fenerbahce Ulker in Istanbul, a team that last year housed former NBA players Sean May, Lynn Greer, Roko Ukic, Sarunas Jasikevicius and Tarence Kinsey, according to a report from Turkish basketball website MixBasket.
Okur would need to return to the Jazz upon the end of the lockout, per FIBA rules, since he's still under contract with the Jazz for over $10 million through the upcoming NBA season. That apparently isn't an issue for Fenerbahce, however, as the team is dealing with a couple of injuries that should be healed by the time Okur needs to return stateside.
It will be interesting to see how many other European players return to their native country to play for pay while staying close to family back home until the mess in the USA is sorted out.
Kobe Bryant did not attend a meeting with officials from the Turkish team Besiktas in Los Angeles on Thursday, reports Turkish TV reporter Ismail Senol. But Bryant's agent Rob Pelinka did, and Senol reports that the meeting was "positive." The two camps will meet again on Friday.
According to club sources, Besiktas-Pelinka meeting was positive. Kobe wasn't there. Club made an official offer. Today they'll meet again.
Last weekend while attending a charity soccer game in Washington, D.C., Kobe downplayed the potential of playing for Besiktas, which has already signed New Jersey Nets point guard Deron Williams. But the Lakers' star has said he'll play anywhere during the NBA lockout if the right deal can be struck, and it's unlikely his agent -- who has a number of other high-profile clients, including Andre Iguodala -- would be taking meetings with Besiktas if a deal were not remotely possible.
Kobe had previously been reported to be demanding $1 million per month to play overseas, but that might be low. Reports out of China suggest that the top NBA players could draw up to $2 million per month in the Middle Kingdom.
Dirk Nowitzki will not make a decision on whether to play abroad during the NBA lockout until after EuroBasket 2011 in September, the Dallas Mavericks' star forward told ESPN's Marc Stein. Nowitzki, who was named the NBA Finals MVP in June after leading the Mavs to their first-ever title, will play for Germany at FIBA's European championship, which also serves as a qualifier for the 2012 London Olympics.
Spending the week in Berlin to combine a commercial shoot with private training sessions with longtime mentor Holger Geschwindner, Nowitzki said: "I'm going to play the Euros and then see where the lockout is after that. Until then, I'm not going to look at playing anywhere else."
A report from Chinese basketball blog NiuBBall.com this week reported that a Chinese Basketball Association team had offered Nowitzki up to $1.5 million a month to play there during the lockout. Nowitzki is a Nike endorser; Nike has reportedly urged its player to consider China during the lockout for marketing purposes.
Nowitzki did tell Stein that if it appears the lockout will wear on, he will play overseas.
"I've always said I'm too old to sit around for a whole year," Nowitzki said. He turned 33 a week after the Mavs' title-clinching Game 6 win in Miami. "I still can't see this being a long lockout, but if it is I'm going to find somewhere to play."
While it's hard for American NBA observers to gauge how trustworthy out-of-language reports in foreign newspapers are, it's worth noting that the Chengdu Daily has reported that the Zhejiang Lions of the Chinese Basketball Association have offered Miami Heat star Dwyane Wade $2 million per month to play in the port city of Hangzhou.
Chinese basketball blog NiuBBall.com reports that team officials have denied the report, but that CBA teams are -- despite reports that the league is seeking to block "out clauses" that would allow players under NBA contract to return to the United States once the NBA lockout ends -- pushing to sign superstars to hefty contracts. NiuBBall says that Dirk Nowitzki has seen offers of up to $1.5 million per month.
The plan for Chinese teams to work around the new government rule blocking "out clauses" is amazing, and well worth reading about at NiuBBall. In the meantime, we continue to keep a watchful eye on China as more NBA players sign deals in Europe.
The Hook wonders how the NBA players' union will be ripped apart because Jordan Farmar and Timofey Mozgov sign contracts in Europe. Also, we are as astounded at David Kahn's latest Timberwolves coach invites as you are.
Trevor Booker, who is under contract with the Washington Wizards for three more seasons, has signed a deal to play for Israel's Bnei HaSharon, according to a report from David Pick on Eurobasket.com.
Interestingly enough, Wizards GM Ernie Grunfeld's son Dan played for Bnei HaSharon last season. (He moved to Hapoel Holon, another Israeli team, for the 2011-12 season.) Bnei HaSharon finished fourth in the Israeli league last season, and will not participate in the continental cups this season.
Booker is the second player under NBA contract to sign in Israel, following New Jersey Nets point guard Jordan Farmar, who signed with Maccabi Tel Aviv this week. A total of eight players under NBA contract have signed overseas deals; in terms of NBA impact, Booker is middle of the pack.
The Wizards made the Clemson product the No. 23 pick in the 2010 NBA Draft, and as a rookie played in 65 games, starting 14. He was, for the most part, an efficient bench scorer. In 12 games in March, he averaged 10 points and seven rebounds a game.
Jordan Farmar, the New Jersey Nets' back-up point guard, has signed a deal with Maccabi Tel Aviv, Israel's powerhouse club, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports. Reports earlier this week suggested that Maccabi Haifa, a lesser Israeli club, was hot on Farmar's trail.
Maccabi Tel Aviv is the biggest sports club in Israel, and a perennial contender in Euroleague competition. Tel Aviv finished second in Euroleague in 2010-11 under American-born head coach David Blatt, losing in the final to Greek power Panathinaikos. The roster, in addition to Farmar, boasts Israeli star Lior Eliyahu, Greek big man Sofoklis Schortsanitis, Duke product Jon Scheyer, Gonzaga product Jeremy Pargo and former Golden State Warrior Richard Hendrix.
Farmar is the second player under NBA contract to sign with a Euroleague team during the NBA lockout. Nicolas Batum signed a deal with SLUC Nancy, the reigning French champion and a low-rung contender for Euroleague. If the lockout ends midseason, Farmar and Batum will be forced to return to their NBA teams. Many had considered Euroleague teams unlikely to sign players under NBA contract as rentals, but Maccabi Tel Aviv is one of the best and has bucked that trend.
The Kobe Bryant to Turkey rumors have seemed dead about seven times since the NBA lockout began, but Beşiktaş -- the team that is courting him -- won't go down without a fight. A very public fight, including letting the media know its every move, apparently.
The latest report is that Bryant and agent Rob Pelinka will meet Beşiktaş team president Yıldırım Demirören on Thursday, according to Ismail Senol of Turkish NBA TV. This despite previous reports to the contrary, like the one from Yahoo! Sports Marc Spears, that said there was "no chance that Bryant would take his talents to Turkey."
This latest meeting doesn't necessarily mean anything, but it's obvious that the Los Angeles Lakers All-Star and Pelinka know they would be wise not to turn down a meeting with a man willing to pay someone one million dollars per month to play basketball. Especially, of course, while the NBA has its players locked out for the foreseeable future.
Either way, it'll be interesting to see if Bryant and Pelinka change their minds about heading to Turkey following Thursday's meeting or if it's just another quick twist in the story before another reports says that there's still no chance Bryant joins Deron Williams in Beşiktaş.
Jordan Farmar, the New Jersey Nets' back-up point guard, is in talks with Israel's Maccabi Haifa, reports ESPN's Marc Stein. Farmar, who plays behind Deron Williams, the first NBA player under contract to sign overseas this summer, is Jewish, and according to Maccabi Haifa's owner has expressed particular interest to play in Israel during the NBA lockout.
Farmar spent four years with the Los Angeles Lakers before signing with the Nets last summer. The Nets traded for Williams at the in-season deadline, sending Farmar to a bench role but making the team more competitive in the immediate term. Williams is slated to be a free agent in 2012.
As Stein notes, Haifa had a tough 2010-11 season, finishing No. 9 in the 10-team Israeli league. Haifa last drew attention for signing Jeremy Tyler, then a high school junior in San Diego, to a contract as the big man prospect looked overseas instead of at American colleges. Tyler was a massive bust for Haifa, hardly playing and clashing with coaches. Tyler spent 2010-11 playing in Japan for Tokyo Apache, and was drafted in the second round of the 2011 NBA Draft by the Golden State Warriors.
The Chinese Basketball Association could rule to block all contracts with NBA players that include a lockout opt-out, reports ESPN's Marc Stein. China's Sina Sports first reported the potential rule over the weekend, and Stein said his sources confirm the potential for the rule.
China was seen as a top option for locked-out NBA stars looking to make money, expand their brand and put some pressure on NBA owners to compromise for a new collective bargaining agreement. Kobe Bryant is said to be considering several Chinese offers, ones that this new rule would thwart.
A few players, led by Deron Williams and Nicolas Batum, have signed contracts in Europe that will allow the players to return to the NBA if the lockout ends midseason. The Chinese rule would block those clauses from being inserted in contracts in the CBA.
Stein reports that the reason for the rule is that Chinese government officials are worried the CBA would become a circus with short-term rentals, no matter how popular the stars are. China would instead prefer to focus attention on the nation's homegrown stars in advance of the 2012 London Olympics.
Interestingly enough, retired NBA megalith Yao Ming owns a CBA team, the Shanghai Sharks.
Nicolas Batum isn't quite Deron Williams, but he's a legit NBA starter that 29 teams would love to pry away from the Portland Trail Blazers. Instead, a team based in Lorraine, France, has landed the French forward, as ESPN's Marc Stein quotes Batum's agent as saying a deal with SLUC Nancy will be finalized this week. That would have the 22-year-old Batum playing for Nancy during the NBA lockout.
SLUC Nancy is the reigning French Pro A League champion and a participant in the 2011-12 Euroleague campaign; that's notable, considering Williams signed with a non-Euroleague team and many had considered Euroleague squads to be unlikely landing spots for what could be short-term rentals from the NBA. (All NBA players under contract will have to return to their NBA teams as soon as a lockout ends, meaning that foreign teams that sign the locked-out players could get them for just a few games or months.)
There is, of course, a special circumstance: Batum is French and has played in the Pro A before (albeit for Le Mans, not Nancy). Note that this is not the Pro A team owned by Tony Parker; that's ASVEL in Lyon.
For more on the Blazers, visit Blazer's Edge.
On Sunday, we learned that Kobe Bryant's flirtation with Besiktas of Turkey had ended. But in the immediate aftermath, Marc Spears and Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports reported that Kobe is mulling offers from teams in China.
Bryant, sources said, is still listening to offers to play overseas during the NBA's lockout, and considers China a more likely option. He has exchanged proposals with Chinese teams.
What's Kobe looking for? Roughly $1.5 million per month, which is a sturdy chunk of cash for a mid-rung league. It's unclear how willing to negotiate Chinese Basketball Association teams (or the league itself) are, and whether Kobe could be paid by sponsors as was rumored to be the case for Besiktas. (Deron Williams, who signed with Besiktas, will be paid by a sponsor.)
It's worth noting that now-retired Yao Ming, who has made a great deal of money in NBA salary and endorsements, owns the Shanghai Sharks of the CBA. It'll be interesting to see whether he gets involved for the wooing of NBA stars to China.
Remember all of that talk about Kobe Bryant going to play with Besiktas in Turkey? Well, the story today is that it's not going to happen.
Of course, this story will almost certainly change a couple of more times before Bryant signs with a foreign basketball team or says definitively that he's not going anywhere, but as of today, a move to Besiktas looks unlikely.
According to NBA writer Marc Spears of Yahoo!, Bryant's camp hasn't spoken to Besiktas recently and probably won't be holding serious talks any time soon. Actually, according to Spears, Bryant's camp isn't talking to "Besitas," but that's probably just a typo.
Source says @Lakers Kobe Bryant hasnt talked to Turkey Besistas in 2 weeks & currently there is a 0% chance he goes there, Y! Sports reportsless than a minute ago via Twitter for BlackBerry® Favorite Retweet ReplyMarc J. Spears
There's no way that there's actually a zero percent chance that Kobe goes to Besiktas until Kobe Bryant himself says "I am absolutely not going to Besiktas," but a move is now looking extremely unlikely.
However, don't fret, people who want to see Kobe play basketball this year! No one has put a total squash on the talks of his move to a Chinese team quite yet. Don't count on it, though.
NBA players seem to be fleeing for Europe left and right, with Portland Trail Blazers forward Nicolas Batum reportedly the latest to reach an agreement. With the NBA lockout in place, and showing no signs of ending soon, players are in the midst of making contingency plans, while superstars and middle-of-the-road guys are turning to Europe for a paycheck during the lockout.
Batum is no exception, and will reportedly head to Nancy, a Euroleague team, this coming season.
The report comes from BasketSession and is passed along by Oregon Live.
He will sign an official contract with the team after a physical evaluation is performed. The Portland Trail Blazers forward will begin the season in French Pro A and the Euroleague with Nancy if an NBA lockout continues into the NBA regular season.
We knew contact discussions between the two parties were progressing, but nothing was sure yet. Especially as other clubs have expressed interest, including ASVEL according to information published in L'Equipe just ten days ago. Supporters of SLUC Nancy can therefore rest assured of one thing, that Nicolas will play for Nancy.
It seems like every day another player or two choose to find work outside of the NBA. If the owners' hope was to break the players and wait for them to crumble without a paycheck, they may be sorely mistaken. Instead, many players have contingencies in place, and seem to be preparing for the long-haul.
For more on Batum and the Blazers, head over to Blazers Edge.
Hamed Haddadi could be headed to China next season, assuming the NBA lockout continues, instead of the Memphis Grizzlies. If the first Iranian in the NBA decides to make the move to Asia, he’ll apparently be compensated quite well.
Haddadi signed a three-year deal, including a team-option for a fourth season, with the Memphis Grizzlies in 2008 worth $4.8 million. If he elects to take his talents to China, NiuBBall reports that he would make $200,000 per month to play with Stephon Marbury’s team in Foshan.
As NiuBBall’s Jon Pastuszek reports, Haddadi signing in China’s CBA would be an interesting experiment in executing loopholes.
CBA rules allow for one Asian import player to be signed by each of the four teams who finished with the worst record the previous season. Adding one is a considerable advantage over the rest of the league. Unlike every team’s two American imports, who are not allowed to play on the court together for more than two quarters per game, Asian imports are not subjected to on-court restrictions. If the 7-3 Haddadi, who is an Iranian citizen, were to sign as an Asian import, he could play unlimited minutes alongside two talented American imports, which would make whatever team he signed onto very formidable next season.
The contract would also have an NBA-out clause in case the lockout ends sooner rather than later, according to Pastuszek, but this move could possibly open the floodgates for others to take their talents to China as well considering the precedent will have been set.
Plus, who wouldn’t be excited to see Marbury and Haddadi will the Foshan Dralions to a championship in China?
Aaron Brooks, like most Houston Rockets that played with Yao Ming during his time in the NBA, is kind of a big deal in China. With the NBA lockout currently in place, Brooks is reportedly considering contract offers to play in the best NBA market outside of America.
Brooks spent his first four seasons in the NBA with the Rockets before being traded to the Phoenix Suns midway through this past season, and while earlier this week he said he hoped to stay in Phoenix, he's also considering a deal to play with a team in China according to Hoopsworld.
Brooks has a qualifying offer of just under $3 million from the Suns that they would have to pay him to re-sign him, putting him in a sort of free agent limbo along the lines of Josh Childress a few seasons when he instead left the NBA to play in Greece.
It isn't surprising that Brooks would consider Chinese offers, especially considering Hoopsworld is also reporting he has a couple of endorsement deals in Asia, but odds are he'd be taking about a $2 million paycut to do play in Asia.
Keyon Dooling is the vice president of the NBA Players' Association, meaning he probably has a good handle on right where everyone stands when it comes to the ongoing NBA lockout. If that is the case, the NBA owners and players seem to be rather far apart in their negotiations considering Dooling is looking at signing a deal in Turkey.
Dooling is nearing a deal to play with Efes Pilsten in Istanbul, alongside fellow former NBA players Sasha Vujacic, Tarence Kinsey and Esteban Batista, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (via Pro Basketball Talk).
This isn't exactly dire news for those hoping the NBA will begin sooner rather than later, but it isn't good when union representatives have decided that playing in Turkey is better for their career than staying and playing stateside with his Milwaukee Bucks.
Of course, considering Dooling isn't exactly a household name and now on the wrong side of 30, ending up in Turkey could have been an inevitability regardless of the lockout. This is hammered home by the fact that his agent expects Dooling to play in Turkey next season regardless of the lockout ending.
[Agent Kenge] Stevenson said Dooling would expect to play in Turkey next season even if the lockout ends and any opt-out clause would be for legal purposes. The veteran has one year and $2 million remaining on his contract with the Bucks, but Stevenson indicated he thought an agreement could be reached to allow Dooling to play in Europe in the event the lockout was settled.
Either way, if Dooling is able to get a contract anywhere close to the $2 million he's owed by the Bucks, it's probably worth taking the plunge if playing time aplenty is available at his stage of his career.
Kobe Bryant will attend a meeting with his representatives and officials from Besiktas, the club in Turkey that has already signed Deron Williams, reports Reuters (via ESPN L.A.). Previous reports indicated that Kobe's camp and Besiktas officials would meet July 30, but whether Bryant himself would attend was a mystery. That he will take the meeting indicates a level of seriousness to the situation.
If Kobe were to reach an agreement to play overseas during the NBA lockout, which is in its 29th day, it would be seen as a major coup for the players' union, which has encouraged its members to seek deals.
Besiktas' season begins in late September as the team is participating in the continental Eurocup competition, the second-tier interleague competition in Europe. Besiktas also plays in the Turkish league, with that competition beginning shortly thereafter. Williams will reportedly arrive in Istanbul for training camp in late August, provided the NBA lockout hasn't been resolved.
Ron Artest does things a bit differently, so of course his international flirtation during the NBA lockout would be worth chuckles. The Chester Chronicle reports that Artest is in talks with the Cheshire Jets of the British Basketball League. Cheshire is a county in northwest England; Chester is the city that is home of the team. And no, the British Basketball League is not considered a good league, or even an OK league. As Scott Schroeder points out, the Jets' best player last season was St. Cloud State University product Matt Schneck.
The Jets' director Peter Hawkins tells the Chronicle that Artest will travel to the United Kingdom in the next few weeks to finalize details of a deal for the Los Angeles Lakers forward to play for Cheshire. Hawkins said that he had "agreed to the fundamentals of a deal" with Artest's representatives via phone on Tuesday.
Given that Artest is involved, anything can happen. He could totally sign with an anonymous British team, or he could be on Dancing With The Stars, or he could have giant wings attached to his body. Everything is fair game.
Via I Am A GM.
While Carmelo Anthony, Kobe Bryant, Amare Stoudemire and so many other NBA players are subject to rumors and new about playing overseas during the NBA lockout, at least one NBA star is making it clear he won't be racking up much frequent flyer mileage anytime soon.
Andre Iguodala has no plans to sign overseas during lockout. He'd consider a tour, by right now not entertaining year-long contract offers.
He smartly includes the caveat that he'd go overseas for tours and exhibitions. There's way too money with little efort involved to close the doors on those altogether. Just ask Kobe.
Iguodala played in 67 games for Philadelphia this past season, averaging 14.1 PPG and 6.3 APG. Iguodala making $13,531,750 for the Sixers.
As most of the NBA-to-overseas attention remains on Kobe Bryant, whose representatives will reportedly meet with officials from the club in Turkey that signed Deron Williams, two other All-Stars added their names to the list of players keeping their international options open. The Associated Press reports that during a promotional tour in Hong Kong, Chris Paul of the New Orleans Hornets and Carmelo Anthony of the New York Knicks told SNTV that they will both look at playing in China if the lockout cuts into the NBA regular season.
Williams is the only top-flight NBA player to sign a deal overseas since the NBA locked out players on July 1, having signed the equivalent of a $5 million contract with Besiktas, a second-tier team in Turkey. That contract -- and any negotiated by players under NBA contract for next season, as Paul and Anthony are -- includes an out that will allow Williams to return to the New Jersey Nets as soon as the lockout ends.
China is seen as more feasible for some players, given that its season begins later than most if not all European seasons. Williams is due to report to Besiktas in late August, whereas the Chinese league begins play closer to December.
Boston Celtics second-round draft pick and former Purdue star E'Twaun Moore is close to signing with the Italian team Cimberio Varese. NBC Sports' ProBasketballTalk notes that for a first-round pick, the reward of playing overseas during the NBA Lockout might not be worth the risk - if you suffer a major injury, it could end up costing you millions of dollars. For a second-round pick, though, the calculus can be quite different.
Unsurprisingly, Moore's contract contains a clause that lets him go to the NBA if the lockout ends and the Celtics come calling.
Moore averaged 18 points and five rebounds per game at guard for Purdue in 2010-11. He was a consistent scorer all four years at Purdue, averaging in double figures each year, despite sharing the court with big man JaJuan Johnson (who was drafted in the first round by the Nets and is now also with the Celtics). Moore might or might not be athletic enough to thrive as a guard in the NBA, but with the lockout on, it might be a while before we know for sure, either way.
For more on the Boston Celtics, check out CelticsBlog.
Representatives of Kobe Bryant will meet with officials from Besiktas, a club in Turkey that has already signed Deron Williams to play during the NBA lockout, on July 30, according to a report quoting one of said Besiktas officials (via PBT). Rumors have tied Bryant, the Los Angeles Lakers' former MVP, to Besiktas for weeks, though much of that has seemed like overwhelming enthusiasm from the club and willing flirtation from Kobe's camp.
Reports have suggested Kobe would command $1 million per month to play with a foreign club during the ongoing NBA lockout. The official quoted Monday says that money won't be an issue, as sponsorships can be covered by Turkish Airlines (which already has Kobe as an endorser), M-Oil and Milan Petrol.
Besiktas' season begins at the end of September, and Williams is reportedly slated to arrive in Istanbul for training camp at the end of August, if the lockout hasn't ended. While Williams' deal sent shockwaves through the NBA, no big names have yet followed him overseas, and adding someone the stature of Kobe -- other than Michael Jordan, the most famous basketball personality in the world right now -- would seemingly put immense pressure on the NBA to come to the table and bargain with players.
Ersan Ilyasova, a Turkish forward who has bounced between the NBA and Europe, has reportedly agreed in principle to a three-year deal with Fenerbahce in Turkey. Ilyasova has one year remaining on his contract with the Milwaukee Bucks, which complicates the whole "three-year deal" thing, as Dan Sinclair of SB Nation's Brew Hoop notes.
The Bucks have surely been anticipating this development. Even before the lockout, there were rumors Ersan wanted to leave Milwaukee and return to Europe. John Hammond's immediate response, "he's under contract," seemed to indicate the Bucks' desire to keep him, although it hardly sounded like a vote of confidence and it certainly wasn't going to close the book on the matter entirely.
The Bucks have been shopping Ilyasova, the odd man out in a crowded if underwhelming frontcourt, for some time. He's a bit of a commodity, a solid rotation player on a cheap ($2.5 million) deal who just turned 24. He's signed through the end of the 2011-12 season. So how can he sign a three-year deal? The contract could be structured as such that he'd be forced to return to the Bucks -- or a team he's traded to -- should the '11-12 season happen, and then can return to Fenerbahce for the 2012-13 season.
Ilyasova played for Fenerbahce before coming to the Bucks in 2005. He actually didn't play a minute for Milwaukee as a rookie, instead making his mark in the D-League. He did play in 66 games in his second year, but instead of signing a new deal with the Bucks as a restricted free agent, he signed in Spain for two years. He then returned to the NBA, signing a three-year deal through 2012 with Milwaukee.
Kobe Bryant playing in Turkey next season seems to be becoming more of a possibility each day, at least if the NBA lockout continues to prevent him from playing for the Los Angeles Lakers. The latest rumors, according to the head coach of Turkish team Besiktas, indicates that talks are even further along than previously indicated.
Besiktas Coach Ergin Ataman, quickly becoming an American media darling as he's been quoted by nearly every outlet imaginable since his team signed New Jersey Nets point guard Deron Williams, talked to the Los Angeles Times on Thursday regarding a timeline regarding his team's courting of Kobe.
"We made our offer to Kobe and now we are waiting for their comments about the situation," Ataman said. "But we didn't talk about details. I think they are thinking now about our offer, and I think in the beginning of August, the first week of August, our president [Yildirim Demiroren] will be in the United States for Deron Williams' press conference and I think that they will meet to sign in USA with Kobe."
When that meeting takes place, Ataman seems optimistic that Bryant will see the light and sign with Besiktas.
"Yes, we feel Kobe will sign with us," Ataman said. "We feel because Besiktas is a very good club, very famous club. At this moment, after the United States, Turkey is in the best league in Europe. Besiktas has great fans. I think it is positive. So we are very optimistic about Kobe to sign."
Eternally optimistic, as has been the case with Ataman, he doesn't even foresee issues with Bryant asking for $1 million per month after the club originally offered half of that.
"We are negotiating about this," Ataman said. "This amount is very, very big for Europe in this situation. But I think that we find a solution to arrive to be happy and to have a happy Kobe for the money. But the main thing I think will be that Kobe will come here to play basketball with Deron Williams to stay in shape, to take good money and to play basketball.
"The first option is the money. Of course, it is not impossible to take."
It seems the team will probably need to come up with the money, regardless of Bryant's interest in playing with a fellow NBA All-Star, but Ataman is doing a pretty good job of marketing his team regardless.
Now, the question is if anything will come to fruition following the August meeting.
Kobe Bryant is still being pursued by Turkey despite asking for a salary worth $1 million per month, according to the latest reports. It's just going to take a bit of creative financing for Besiktas to suit up two NBA All-Stars next season if the lockout continues.
The team that has already signed New Jersey Nets point guard Deron Williams for the upcoming season told the Associated Press that there is still interest in Bryant, and a bit surprisingly, Bryant and his team is still interested as well.
"It is a fact that Kobe Bryant's managers have contacted us," coach Ergin Ataman said Thursday, a week after Besiktas signed New Jersey Nets point guard Deron Williams.
Ataman's team is currently working to be able to pay Bryant's demand million-per-month salary, but they will have to find a high-level sponsor in order to be able to pay enough to lure the Lakers star to Europe. If the team isn't able to find enough sponsorship money to lure Bryant, Ataman told the AP that representatives of other NBA players also have contacted Besiktas.
The NBA lockout is creating plenty of rumors about All-Stars heading to Europe, but the current labor impasse is sending some of the lesser-known veterans to Europe as well. The latest, according to the world wide web, are Denver Nuggets center Timofey Mozgov and San Antonio Spurs sharpshooter Chris Quinn.
Mozgov started 14 of his 45 games split between the Nuggets and Knicks last season after beginning his professional career in Russia, and the 7-footer will now be taking his talents back to the homeland after signing with BC Khimki in Moscow. Mozgov still has three years on his NBA contract, however, so he's apparently negotiated an NBA out according to Sportando.
Quinn will be joining Mozgov with Khimki according to SoloBasket. Quinn is by no means a household name, but the former Notre Dame point guard has impressively carved himself out a five-year NBA career despite going undrafted in the 2006 NBA Draft. This will be the shooters first foray into basketball outside of the NBA, but as a free agent, it makes quite a bit of sense that he's taking the plunge.
Here is an up-to-date list of all of the NBA players that have headed to Europe thus far, though be sure to continue checking this StoryStream for all of the rumors as the big-name players continue to evaluate their options elsewhere.
Maurice Evans, a 32-year old small forward who last played for the Washington Wizards, is considering overseas offers from Spanish club Real Madrid and Turkish club Anadolu Efes, according to a report by Alex Kennedy of HoopsWorld. This is not significant on the surface, since Evans is a free agent and has seen his skills decline. However, it becomes significant because Evans is the vice president of the NBA Players Association. If he signs overseas, he will become the first Union representative to do so.
The fact that Evans is considering an overseas offer is potentially a bad sign for NBA lockout talks. Evans has been aggressive in discussing his displeasure with the owners' proposals, so it's not a huge surprise that he would look overseas. But while Evans is probably just trying to keep his options open, it doesn't show a huge vote of confidence in the possibility of a speedy resolution when the No. 2 man in the Union is considering moving overseas.
The Turkish team Besiktas has officially placed a hold on their pursuit of Los Angeles Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant, according to overseas reports. As of Monday night, Turkey's NTV Sport reported that the team's available basketball funds have been siphoned off by a match-fixing scandal that is tearing across the Turkish soccer landscape.
Any further acquisitions by Besiktas will be reliant on procuring an affluent new team sponsor, according to NTV Sport. Though, Bryant's sponsorship through Turkish Airlines does add an interesting outside caveat to the discussions.
Before the onset of the scandal, the Turkish club was in talks for a contract that would pay Bryant a monthly salary of $500,000. However, the Lakers' All-Star was said to have been holding out for an estimated salary of $1 million per month.
Ever since Deron Williams announced he'd be playing professional basketball in Turkey if there's no NBA next season, Kobe Bryant has been rumored to be interested in doing the same. The catch? Kobe will cost a lot more money.
According to ESPN's Mark Stein, the Turkish club Besitkas has offered Kobe a salary of $500,000-per-month to come overseas should the NBA Lockout stretch into the 2011-2012 season. And Kobe's interested, too, but as a Turkish outlet reports, he wants double the money. Indeed, if Kobe's going to play overseas, he wants $1,000,000-per-month. While that may seem like an unreasonable figure, it's considerably less than he'd earn in America. What's more, Kobe's demands haven't deterred his suitors. If anything, this just calls for some creative financing.
To sign Kobe successfully, the money would likely have to come from a third party who would sponsor the contract. Like, say, the Turkish Airlines corporation that's already paying Kobe a hefty sum to be the face of their marketing campaign? It's certainly a possibility...
"I’m not at liberty to talk about it," he said, "but there’s a huge possibility about me going to China or me going overseas to play basketball."
"The big thing for me is not giving too much information away, but at the same time I still need to let people know what’s going on with me," Howard said. "I don’t want to just sit over here and forget about basketball and waste, you know, opportunities for me to get better."
Howard, a five-time All-Star who led Orlando to the NBA finals in 2009, is a marquee name for potential free agency in 2012.
Howard also recently said that he planned on holding basketball camps in China this year but the lockout screwed up his plans.
Add Steve Nash to the list of stars willing to play in Europe or China during the NBA lockout. Nash and agent Bill Duffy told Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic that if it looks as if the 2011-12 NBA season will be canceled, the 37-year-old Phoenix Suns point guard and two-time NBA MVP will consider signing a deal in one of the European league or the Chinese Basketball Association.
Duffy boosts the CBA possibilities; that league's season doesn't begin until January, when the fate of the full NBA season will be better known. Chinese teams also more readily embrace "rentals" as opposed to Europe, where teams are built like the best NBA squads. One star of NBA caliber could make a huge difference in the CBA because of the overall talent level.
Nash was born in South Africa and raised in Canada. He has three children with his Paraguayan ex-wife, Coro notes in assessing Nash's comfort with the international. His current shoe deal is with Chinese label Lu You.
Kobe Bryant was nearly a teammate of Deron Williams next season. Not on USA Basketball at the 2012 London Olympics or even the New Jersey Nets, though -- Bryant was nearing a deal to sign with Williams' team in Turkey.
The Los Angeles Lakers star was nearing a deal with Besiktas for $450,000 per month, according to Jonathan Givony of Draft Express, but recent issues with the club's soccer team has put all signings on hold for the time being.
Bryant is probably better off not heading overseas considering his knee injury issues, but the fact that two NBA All-Stars could have been teaming up for a team in Turkey next season rather than the NBA has to make the owners wonder if the NBA lockout is truly worth what they're trying to accomplish.
If the best NBA players are still able to make enough money to comfortably live -- and I would venture to say $450,000 per month isn't terrible -- who is really going to be hurt by the lockout aside from the fans? It seems the top players are finding ample opportunities to take their talents across the ocean.
Curry averaged 18.6 points and 5.8 assists this past season in Oakland, but sent a text message to Bay Area scribe Marcus Thompson alerting him to a possible deal in China if the NBA lockout lasts into the NBA season.
"China is looking promising," Curry said via text message. "There's no deal yet on the table, but my agent is going to entertain offers and see what happens. If it works, I'll go."
It doesn't hurt that China has grown to love its NBA basketball, either, as Curry's teammate Dorell Wright has a shoe-endorsement deal in the country with Peak -- making him entertain the option as well.
"I would definitely like to play in China," Wright said via text. "But I'm open to other options. I'm going to China for a week (in August), so I'll definitely see how it is."
Considering there are only so many Euroleague teams with budgets big enough to sign NBA players who aren't worried about said players leaving once the lockout ends, China could host quite a few high-level players this fall.
Vujacic is no stranger to the European experience as the Slovenian played professionally in Italy before being made a first round pick by the Los Angeles Lakers in 2004 so this move isn't exactly surprising, especially considering he was set to become a free agent as soon as the NBA lockout ends.
What this means for Vujacic's future in the NBA remains to be seen, however, as SB Nation's Nets blog Nets Daily succinctly describes.
Under the old Collective Bargaining Agreement, the Nets could have retained (or renounced) Vujacic's Bird Rights while he played in Europe. Like everything else, whether that provision is continued, eliminated or changed remains to be seen.
If Williams ever ends up in Turkey, by the way, he'll be the third Nets player to do so as draft pick Bojan Bogdanovic also signed in the European country earlier this summer.
While the whole "NBA Players going overseas during the NBA lockout" saga has unfolded, Amar'e Stoudemire has been at the center of the discussion. His name kept popping up over that whole Chinese barnstorming tour idea and he even floated the idea of playing in Israel over Twitter, asking fans "who's with me?" just a few days ago.
Today, Amar'e decided to pull back and pledge his allegiance to America. Or at least New York.
It's really important to Amar'e that you're with him, regardless of his decision.
Assuming Amar'e thinks Israel is in Europe, we can assume that offer is off the table as well.
Of course, if Stoudemire was serious about playing overseas, it could be that he couldn't find anyone willing to insure his NBA contract in case of injury overseas. The injury-prone Knick could be in big trouble if he were to find himself hurt in that situation.
Tony Parker played four seasons in France before being selected by the San Antonio Spurs in the 2001 NBA Draft. If the lockout lasts into January, and it seems like it might, Parker has recently said that he will resume his French basketball career.
Parker held a press conference recently in France, and according to French basketball website BasketUSA, the 29-year-old point guard had some interesting comments on the lockout and a possible return to France.
On the lockout, Parker said that it "is a problem of rich," apparently intimating that the owners are at fault despite his signing a four-year, $50 million extension with the Spurs last fall. This isn't exactly a surprising stance, however, as there's no reason for him to blame his fellow players for the problems keeping the NBA from playing next season.
If the NBA doesn't play next season, or at least if the lockout lasts into 2012, Parker plans to give a big boost to ASVEL -- the team he part-owns and manages in France.
"If in January-February, the NBA says the lockout will last until the end of the season, I will come to France, but the NBA season can start anytime -- They will not say in October that the strike will last all year, it does not work like that," Parker said. "But if so, I'd head over to the ASVEL because I'm general manager and executive director."
ASVEL has already signed three players with names familiar to NCAA basketball fans in Jamie Skeen, Kim Tillie and former NBA player Hilton Armstrong, but Parker would definitely be a nice addition.
In fact, he might be able to be the first in the world to be named Most Valuable Player and Executive of the Year in the same season.
Kobe Bryant was rumored to be a possible target of the Turkish team Deron Williams plans to play for during the NBA lockout. That doesn’t seem like the Lakers’ stars best option, however, according to Williams.
Williams does believe Bryant, along with quite a few other stars, will go to Europe if the owners get what they want in the new Collective Bargaining Agreement.
"(Kobe) could go make more money overseas, I guarantee you," Williams told ESPN’s Chris Broussard. "If (European teams) knew he could be there for a full season, or they knew I could be there for a full season, or they knew LeBron James could be there for a full season, they’ll pay more money, of course."
Unlike his deal with Besiktas, however, Williams believes Bryant — his teammate on the USA’s 2008 Beijing Olympics entry — would be better served in China.
"I see him going to China or somewhere," Williams went on to say in the ESPN article. "He’s big in China. I was over there with him in Beijing. He’s ‘The Man’ over there."
It’s interesting that Williams doesn’t seem to be luring Bryant to Turkey with him, but there are apparently plenty of other big name players considering a jump to Europe now that Williams has made his plans known.
"I’ve talked to a lot of players, you would be surprised," Williams said. "I talked to a few before and I knew some guys were considering it as well. But since it came out, it was just like a snowball of guys calling me (saying) ‘What are you doing? When are you leaving?’ And guys want to go too. They want to do it."
It seems basketball fans are getting closer and closer to needing to order a Euroleague Pass next season if watching the best basketball in the world is the goal.
Sonny Weems has decided to sign a contract with Lithuanian team Zalgiris Kaunas rather than wait to see when the NBA lockout ends. The third-year NBA guard averaged a career high 9.2 points and 23.9 minutes with the Toronto Raptors last year, good enough to at least have a qualifying offer extended his way.
Weems can probably expect to play about 70 games between the regular season and the Euroleague, vital experience for a player that is still just 24 and far from established. The guaranteed income of playing overseas is also not an insignificant consideration for a player in his position. Weems' agent, Roger Montgomery, said his client just couldn't afford the risk:
"There's no way I'm going sit by idly and wait for David Stern to decide if he wants to be fair," Montgomery said.
While Weems is not the first NBA player to bolt for Europe, Montgomery said he was the first of this offseason to sign a deal that doesn't allow him to return to the NBA if and when the lockout ends. If the lockout continues much longer, it wouldn't be at all surprising to see more players in Weems' position, follow his lead.
Deron Williams has decided to play in Europe if the NBA lockout persists, but the news of the New Jersey Nets point guard has been well covered elsewhere on SB Nation. Williams' decision, however, is causing his fellow NBA players to contemplate taking their talents to the other side of the world if they're unable to play in the NBA next season.
Lakers star Kobe Bryant has already said he's open to considering offers from European teams and lesser NBA players such as Andrei Kirilenko, Serge Ibaka and J.J. Barea have also indicated that they will more than likely play in the East next season if the lockout continues too much longer.
"I don't think anyone is thinking about playing overseas at this point -- certainly not Amar'e," agent Happy Walters told the New York Post on Thursday.
The Post intimates that Stoudemire probably has too many insurance and injury issues to worry about if he moved to Europe, but it wouldn't be surprising to see other stars follow Williams to Europe for a short vacation.
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