Dirk Nowitzki and 20 NBA Veterans Who'd Probably Play in Europe During a Lockout

Andrew PierluissiCorrespondent IIIFebruary 8, 2011

Dirk Nowitzki and 20 Veterans Who'd Probably Play in Europe During a Lockout

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    In the event of a lockout for the 2011-2012 NBA season, veteran players might find themselves playing overseas.  For some veteran players, this might me more likely to happen than others.

    Players without a contract after this season will become free agents free to sign wherever they please all over the world.  Players with contracts present a different issue.  According to FIBA rules, players need to be granted a special exception by FIBA to play for any FIBA team while under contract.  Also, in order for this to happen, their current NBA contract needs to be officially invalid for that year.  Politics will play a big role in solving these issues.

    Besides contract rules, other factors will influence this migration.  Perennial all-star players will not likely play overseas for a significantly reduced salary and risk injuries.  Seasoned veterans will likely have to deal with family constraints as well.

    Taking all the above into account, here are the top players that will probably go play overseas if a lockout was to happen.

20. Nene Hilario

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    Nene is enjoying an all-star caliber season.  He has a player option for next year and it would be shocking to see him not take advantage of it.  But opting out of a contract like that would not be something anyone has never done before.  Most recently, Richard Jefferson opted out of a big last year to secure himself a job for another four.  Nene might find a similar approach enticing.

19. Yi Jianlian

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    Ever since he was drafted, the whole “next Yao Ming” experiment has failed.  Yi Jianlian has not been the kind of player many scouts envisioned him to be.  This season, Jianlian is struggling to find consistent minutes in a team that lacks big men.

    Jianlian has failed to get any better in the last three or four years and his days as an NBA player might be about over.  Perhaps a European club could give Jianlian a job after this season, or perhaps the Timberwolves will give him a four year deal.

18. Carlos Delfino

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    The list of international players continues.  Carlos Delfino is not your typical European player.  Yes, he can shoot from long range, but it is his defense and aggressiveness what made him popular.  These skills made him a star internationally.

    Throughout his career, Delfino has not really found a city or a team he could settle down in and call home.  Those type of ties are the only reason international players stick around for a long time in the NBA.


17. Vladimir Radmanovic

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    Vladimir Radmanovic is just one of several sharpshooting big men on this list.  His value in the NBA has hit a new low and the likelihood of being offered an extension even lower.  If a lockout was to happen, Radmanovic would be unemployed.

    Radmanovic would be one of first NBA players to pack his bags and leave upon a lockout.  Actually, lockout or not, it wouldn’t be surprising to watch him leave anyway after the end of this season.

16. Andrei Kirilenko

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    Andre Kirilenko is finally in the last year of his contract.  Finally, because he has been severely overpaid for the past few seasons, most of which he has spent injured.

    Still, Kirilenko is a solid NBA player capable of drawing interest from almost any NBA team.  Due to the lockout and new CBA, Utah will not be willing to pay Kirilenko anywhere near of what he is making this season.  If he is traded, no other NBA team will pay that sum either.

    A former international standout, Kirilenko might strongly consider playing in Europe for a year and coming back strong in 2012.

15. Jeff Green

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    As the Thunder keep improving and making noise in the West, it is more and more evident that Jeff Green is no longer part of the big OKC three.  Nobody has taken his place, but Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant have made themselves the big two.  This has made Green look somewhat expendable.

    The Thunder is likely to offer Green an extension, but it will be interesting to see if he accepts such offer.  Like other players on this list, it might make sense to play a year overseas and try and land a bigger contract the following season.

14. Glen Davis

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    As of today, Glen “Big Baby” Davis is playing without a contract extension.  Playing next to Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, and Paul Pierce shadows the efforts Davis brings night in and night out.  This could change if he assumes a bigger role in a team overseas.

    Davis only struggles because of his size, something that would be a lesser issue playing overseas where frontlines are not as big and as strong.  Given the minutes and touches, he could easily lead an overseas team like Tiago Splitter and Luis Scola, two players with similar styles, have done in the past.

    The money would also be good to Davis who could probably land a deal that would pay him roughly what he is getting paid in the NBA.

13. Caron Butler

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    One can only begin to speak about Butler and his unfortunate injury.  Players that have gone through similar injuries have been slow recuperating and have taken sometimes a full season to recover and go back to 100 percent.  Perhaps playing overseas would be just what he needs to spark interest from NBA teams and play a few more solid years.

    Butler is in danger of not receiving a good offer from any NBA team this offseason, let alone an extension by the Mavericks.  At this point, it is more likely for him to be traded than extended.

12. J.R. Smith

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    J.R. Smith’s value in the NBA is hard to measure.  While he is possibly one of the most gifted players in the league, his work ethic and bad decisions make him a player than can become problematic in an organization.  That is why he might find himself without a good contract at the end of the year.

    Teams overseas often give players like Smith a shot.  At least they can get the fans excited with thunderous dunks and three pointers from half court.  It would be easy to picture a team giving J.R. a shot especially if it is a one-year deal that presents no risk.

11. Michael Redd

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    Some rumors have surfaced about Redd coming back from injury this year if the Bucks are in contention of a playoff spot.  So far, that is looking less likely to happen as the Bucks keep losing and going down in the standings.

    Michael Redd will not be extended by the Bucks and even if he did, the money offered will likely not be what Redd will be expecting.  He might be able to make significantly more overseas.

    Redd does have international experience while playing for the national team.  Although his role of standing at the three-point line and making shots was a bit one-dimensional, he flourished in it.  International teams will surely be knocking on Redd’s door if the former all-star is unemployed by July.

10. Wilson Chandler

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    Much of the New York Knick’s success has been because of Wilson Chandler.   Most of the credit goes to Amar’e Stoudemire and Raymond Felton, but Chandler is also having a career year.

    Sadly for Chandler, the Knicks are very likely to land Carmelo Anthony, something that makes him expendable.  Chandler would be a starter in almost any NBA team and he knows it.  If he is not traded in the Carmelo Anthony deal, he will likely not be extended.  If this happens and there is a lockout, he will definitely look to show the NBA what he is capable of, playing overseas.

9. Sasha Vujacic

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    In Los Angeles, Sasha Vujacic had it all.  He was part of a championship caliber team and had green light to shoot every ball that touched his hands for about 15 minutes per game.  That was good enough to get him a big contract by the Lakers.  Now that contract is over and he is stuck in New Jersey, who is desperately in rebuilding process.

    It is not likely that Vujacic will be extended.  Because of this, plenty of European teams will come with loads of money to offer to the sharpshooter.  It would be shocking to see Vujacic not accept any offer.

8. Carlos Arroyo

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    Carlos Arroyo never became the star he was playing international basketball in the NBA.  During his prime, he was a borderline starter and a problem in the locker room.  Now he is scrambling for minutes in Miami after taking the only contract offer he got this offseason.

    Like others on this list, Arroyo excelled internationally in his year in Israel.  If he is not extended by Miami, playing outside of the United States might be his only option.

7. Jose Juan Barea

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    Jose Barea is one of the fastest players in the league.  Although he lacks size for the NBA game, he makes up for it with good shooting and pace changing speed. 

    Barea has shown repeatedly how well he fits into the European basketball system while representing Puerto Rico in the Olympics and FIBA World Championships.  Most of his damage is done by driving into traffic for layups or kickouts.  In the NBA, this is more challenging than in European basketball given the level of athleticism and size of defenders.

    Barea could potentially become a star internationally the way fellow countryman Carlos Arroyo did in Israel.

6. Tracy McGrady

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    Despite team struggles and health issues at given nights, McGrady is enjoying a successful season given his league veteran minimum salary.  Although he is not even close to being the player he was back when he led the league in scoring, he is still able to produce quality minutes.

    Although McGrady has made it clear that he is not about the money, a bigger offer by an European team might make him think otherwise.  In Europe, seasons consist of fewer games and the games are shorter.  Also, he could be more productive against a league who is somewhat less talented.

    Hopefully, he learns from the mistakes of Allen Iverson and Steve Francis and makes the decision that is best for his health and his pocket.

5. Peja Stojakovic

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    For the last few seasons, Stojakovic has looked like a borderline NBA player.  This year, he has the chance to rejuvenate his career by playing for the title contending Dallas Mavericks.

    Peja Stojakovic is a big man with unlimited range in his shot.  He would fit right in with 90 percent of European big men.  Even though age might be a factor here, Stojakovic does his damage from the outside, something that should keep in playing professional ball for a few more years, possibly in Europe.

4. Marc Gasol

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    International players are more likely to consider playing overseas than American players.  Marc Gasol made a name for himself playing in Spain.  Returning to his homeland would make sense for the big man.

    Gasol is yet to receive a contract extension from the Grizzlies.  It is unlikely that Memphis will extend him and Zach Randolph both if the players demand salaries that are too high.  Gasol might be better off taking the year to make some money back home and land a big contract in the NBA come the following season.

3. Anthony Parker

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    Anthony Parker left the NBA to play overseas in 2000 and became a star.  In 2006, he returned to the NBA as a well-rounded player able to contribute solid minutes.

    After spending a few seasons playing next to LeBron James in a Cavaliers team that was bound for greatness, Parker now finds himself in one of the worst squads in NBA history.  For Parker, another big NBA contract might just be a dream now, but given his popularity overseas, he could potentially return to Europe and play at an all-star level again.

2. Rudy Fernandez

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    Rudy Fernandez was part of a very emotional summer of 2010.  While LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony flooded the headlines, Rudy was in the background complaining as well.  The truth is, nobody really cared about Rudy until LeBron had chosen a home.  Once that happened, then Rudy decided he wouldn’t complain anymore.  Weird.

    Fernandez has mixed many factors into his unhappiness with Portland.  Some say it is playing time, some say respect, some say injuries, and some even say he is homesick.  Whatever it is, it is about time Rudy finds a new home.  He was a happy and very productive player when in Spain, and he might just realize that is where he truly belongs.

1. Dirk Nowitzki

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    The main reason Dirk Nowitzki makes this is list is because he said so himself that he would be willing to play overseas in event of a lockout.

    Nowitzki accomplished one if his most desirable career goals a few years ago when he led the German National team to the Olympics.  It could be seen how much passion Dirk had for the international representation of his country and how much respect he had for European basketball.

    Nowizki’s skills are better represented in the European league rather than in the NBA.  While other players would struggle fitting into the system, Dirk would fit right in.