NBA Lockout: Will Deron Williams Trigger a Mass Exodus to Europe?
Yesterday, news broke that star point guard Deron Williams is close to signing a deal with Turkish basketball team Besiktas, as reported by The Los Angeles Times. Besiktas is the same team that signed Allen Iverson to a deal last year.
ESPN's Mark Stein, reported that Williams fully intends to play for Besiktas if the lockout continues. His deal does include an immediate opt-out clause once the lockout is resolved.
There have been a number of players who have already signed with European clubs. Some of them have proven to be NBA-caliber players, while others are the hopeful types that jump in and out of the league.
Much like the annual NBA trade deadline, it often only takes one big trade to spark non-stop, league-wide movement until the deadline passes.
The announcement of one of the premier talents in the NBA signing overseas may have a similar effect.
Besiktas has already reached out to Kobe Bryant, who appears legitimately open to hearing their offers.
This is the current list of NBA players who have signed offers with European clubs:
David Andersen—Montepaschi Siena (Italy)
Hilton Armstrong—ASVEL Villeurbanne (France)
Nenad Krstic—CSKA Moscow (Russia)
Mustafa Shakur—Pau Orthez (France)
DaJuan Summers—Montepaschi Siena (Italy)
Sonny Weems—Zalgiris Kaunas (Lithuania)
Deron Williams—Besiktas (Turkey)
Zaza Pachulia—Besiktas (Turkey
NBA hopefuls that have already signed with a team overseas include Jon Scheyer (Duke) with Maccabi Tel Aviv (Israel), Malcolm Thomas (SDSU) with Mobis Phoebus (South Korea), Malik Hariston (Oregon/Spurs) with AJ Milano (Italy) and David Lighty (Ohio St.) with Cantu (Italy).
Current NBA players Carmello Anthony, Amare Stoudemire, Nicolas Batum and Andre Kirilenko have also expressed an interest in playing in Europe for the upcoming season.
The NBA lockout has just begun. It still isn't clear how long it will last. Some NBA experts say it won't last through training camps, while others firmly believe that it will cost the fans the entire season.
With the exception of Deron Williams, most of the players who have gone overseas are fringe-level players. The better NBA players obviously have more to lose if they get injured or hurt.
As things start to unfold and the picture becomes clearer, we will get a better perspective of which players will leave.
The formula is simple: The longer the lockout lasts, the more likely top-tier players are to jump.
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