By Shawn Muller--
(CBS) Former University of Illinois basketball star Deron Williams may just become a trend setter with NBA basketball players IF the NBA lockout lasts for an extended period of time.
Williams--who was traded to the New Jersey Nets from the Utah Jazz last season--is widely considered to be one of the top point guards in the NBA and has struck a one year deal worth $5 million to play with Turkish club Besiktas.
Can you really blame him for agreeing to a deal with a European team if the NBA Lockout interrupts the 2011-2012 NBA season?
He has to do what is best for himself and his family, so if the NBA owners and players want to continue on with the lockout--a lockout that many believe will be a lengthy one--then so be it. I have no problem with a professional athlete wanting to continue his playing career anywhere he has to.
According to reports, the Williams deal with Besiktas--where he is expected to report by late August or early September--has an out clause that allows him to return the NBA as soon as the lockout ends. Until then, Williams will set up shop in Istanbul.
I don't know about you, but that seems like a pretty sweet--and smart--deal, if you were to ask me.
Back in 1998, when the NBA last had a lockout, no player would have ever dreamed of playing in Europe as an alternative to the league. Basketball overseas wasn't as well respected then as it is today, and it wasn't nearly as organized.
Fast forward to 2011 and it is easy to see just how much times have changed...and Deron Williams was dead on the money by agreeing to terms with a European team.
It is a great fallback plan, for the time being, if things don't get any better between the league and its players. Once negotiations do happen to get better between the two sides, Williams will be able to return to the NBA--no questions asked. So for now, Williams--and every other NBA player--can move on with their careers until the league gets the collective bargaining agreement sorted out.
Does anyone really think that he will be the only star player to consider making this kind of move?
Of course he won't be. And I can't/won't blame other players who follow suit.
Wouldn't you do the same thing if you were in these players' shoes? European teams allow players to opt out of their contracts and return to the NBA when a lockout ceases, so it is basically a win-win for anyone willing to take this kind of chance. But everything is not completely covered in roses. There are risks associated with playing overseas as well.
Let's say Deron Williams gets hurt while playing with Beskitas. Right now, he is guaranteed $34 million for two years if he decides not to opt out of the $17.8 million he is due in 2012-2013 from New Jersey. All the guaranteed money he would have made as a member of the New Jersey Nets would suddenly become null and void. Is that a risk he--or any other player for that matter--should be willing to take? I guess that is up to Deron Williams and the others to decide.
I say kudos to any player looking to play in Europe as an alternative to the NBA, if a new CBA does not come to fruition sooner rather than later. Maybe the threat of players going overseas will be a big enough threat that it will force the hand of the owners to reach an agreement with the players association.
In the meantime, I say go European, at least for the short run.
Do you agree with Shawn? Post your comments below.
Shawn Muller has lived in the great city of Chicago for 7 years. He is a 2002 graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and, in October of 2010, Shawn received his certificate in radio broadcasting. In his free time, Shawn enjoys spending time with his wife Melissa and 3 year old daughter Ava, catching any live sporting event, and traveling. Check out his radio show, Grab Some Bench with Muller and Bangser" every Thursday night at 8:30 P.M., at www.blogtalkradio.com/spmuller24. Read more of his blogs here.
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