Greece not an option for NBA stars

Remember when Josh Childress signed a deal with a Greek team because he wasn’t happy playing as a restricted free agent for the Atlanta Hawks? One would think that with the interest being generated in Europe that Greece’s biggest teams (Olympiakos and Panathinaikos) would be big players. But as HoopsHype reports, the economy in Greece makes that a non-starter:

“It’s ironic,’’ says agent Marc Cornstein of Pinnacle Hoops, who has extensive experience placing players in Europe. “(Olympiakos and Panathinaikos) were in the forefront with Childress and Kleiza. They were very aggressive in the past. But they are lagging because of the economic climate over there. It’s very quiet.”

Has Cornstein heard anything about either Greek team making approaches to NBA players?

“In a word – no,’’ he said. “It’s a shame, really. They were two of the biggest teams in Europe.”

Greece’s volatile and tumultuous economic climate certainly militates against signing a big-name player. As Cornstein put it, “you would have to be very, very cautious about sending a player there right now, and not even from a basketball standpoint. Look at their economy. That has an impact on all industries, including basketball.”

It’s also not as financially advantageous. The pro basketball players in Greece used to be taxed at a flat, 20 percent. Now, they are taxed the same as all Greek citizens and, for any highly-paid player, that means the tax would likely be 45 percent.

If not for the Greek financial meltdown, Olympiakos and Panathinaikos would likely be major players during the NBA’s lockout. NBA players are likely to consider only those European franchises on the most solid of footing, as basketball in Europe has long been plagued with stories of bounced paychecks (or no paychecks at all).

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

NBAPA supports players going to Europe

The executive director of the National Basketball Association players’ association, Billy Hunter, speaks to reporters after taking part in contract negotiations between the NBA and the players association in New York June 30, 2011. The NBA was on the verge of its first work stoppage in 13 years after negotiations over a new labor deal collapsed hours before the current collective bargaining agreement expires, the union representing players said on Thursday. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT EMPLOYMENT BUSINESS BASKETBALL)


In a memo sent to players on Tuesday night and obtained by ESPN on Wednesday, [Billy Hunter] said the NBPA supports all players “who are taking steps to continue to earn a living, stay in peak competitive shape, and play the game that we love while the unfortunate league-imposed lockout is in place.”

“This lockout is intended to economically pressure our players to agree to an unfavorable collective bargaining agreement,” Hunter wrote. “It is important for the owners to understand that there may be significant consequences to their decision to put their own players in these difficult economic circumstances.

“If the owners will not give our players a forum in which to play basketball here in the United States, they risk losing the greatest players in the world to the international basketball federations that are more than willing to employ them.”

This support flies in the face of Stephen A. Smith’s assertion that Deron Williams is selfish for signing a one-year deal to play in Turkey. If the players are able to prove that they can find work elsewhere, it will put them in a position of power since it will prove that the owners need them more than they need the owners. Not everyone is going to go overseas, but that doesn’t really change the dynamic within the union. Deron Williams wants to lockout to end just like every other player in the league, whether he plays in Turkey or not.

Here’s an idea — every player that plays elsewhere during the lockout puts 25% of his pay into a slush fund that will be distributed amongst all mid-level and lower players in the union. That way, those rank and file players will keep getting paychecks (however small) and the union’s position will be that much stronger. No one would question the union’s togetherness with such a system in place.

Wade on playing in Europe: “I’m not ruling it out.”

Miami Heat’s Dwyane Wade speaks during a media conference for the NBA Finals basketball series against the Dallas Mavericks in Dallas, Texas June 8, 2011. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL HEADSHOT)

On the heels of Deron Williams’ deal to play in Turkey during the lockout, Dwyane Wade was asked if he was considering playing overseas.

“I’m not ruling it out,” Wade said, following the lead of numerous stars over the past few weeks. “It’s not something you’re waking up every day thinking about. At the end of the day, you get that itch as a basketball player where you want to play the game. I have no idea when I’ll get that itch.”

That’s just it — the itch to play and the itch to get those checks is somewhere over the horizon during this lazy summer. Deron Williams’ proactive action of signing with a Turkish team was an eye-opener but it may prove to simply be an outlier. Most stars are content to sit back and wait to see how things play out without a whiff of urgency.

It will be interesting to see how many stars head overseas as the lockout drags on. Keep in mind that many believe that the NFL labor strife pales into comparison with what the NBA is about to go through. While an abbreviated season seems unlikely in the NFL, it’s a very good possibility in the NBA.

Deron Williams to play in Turkey, more to follow?

New Jersey Nets guard Deron Williams prepares for the third quarter of their NBA basketball game against Toronto Raptors in London March 4, 2011. REUTERS/Eddie Keogh (BRITAIN – Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)

Deron Williams is going to play for a team in Turkey during the NBA lockout, and has signed a one-year contract worth $5 million that has a clause that allows him to return to the NBA and the players work out a deal. He believes that more players will follow and that if the owners get their way, those players could very well stay in Europe.

But if the owners break the players and get the proposal they’re pushing for, Williams believes some stars could opt to play overseas long-term.

“If the proposal (the owners) have, if that’s what they’re sticking with and that’s what they want, then I think it would be hard for a lot of guys to come back to the NBA,” Williams said Friday in an interview at a private golf resort in San Diego.

Meanwhile, ESPN has rehired Stephen A. Smith (for some unknown reason) and he says that Williams’ move is selfish.

“It’s not good,” one player told me on Thursday, demanding anonymity before saying a word. “Williams’ move makes sense if you’re about getting that cash. Nobody can blame him for that. But when you’re talking about these negotiations, it’s suppose to be about unity.”

Exactly. A union — any union — is supposed to personify that. They’re supposed to exude togetherness as opposed to coming across as a filthy-rich scab looking to do nothing else aside from bloating his bank account.

For his part, Williams says he ran this deal by the union to avoid such a thing…

Williams said he spoke with the union before agreeing to play in Turkey to make sure he wasn’t damaging its cause. He said NBPA executive director Billy Hunter was in favor of the move.

I don’t get Smith’s reasoning here. If star players start fleeing for Europe, won’t that help the union’s cause? The owners would see very clearly that their star players have options and if they try to take a hard line, then those players will find work elsewhere. Smith’s column argues that the mid-level players are the ones who will hurt the most, but if an exodus of star players leads to a quicker agreement (and why wouldn’t it?) then won’t the mid-level players be happy? In other words, the entire union wins if the players as a whole are stronger, and by playing in Europe, the players are stronger.

NBA labor talks explained

Larry Coon (author of the excellent NBA Salary Cap FAQ) explains how far apart the players and owners are in the current NBA labor dispute, and uses the Nets’ books as an example:

In other words, $41.5 million of the Nets’ $49 million operating loss in 2005, and $40.2 million of its $57.4 million in 2006, is there simply to make the books balance. It is part of the purchase price of the team, being expensed each year. This doesn’t mean they cooked their books, or that they tried to pull a fast one on the players. It is part of the generally accepted accounting practice to transfer expenses from the acquisition to the profit and loss over a certain time period. However, it’s an argument that doesn’t hold water in a discussion with Hunter and the players association, who would claim that the Nets didn’t really “lose” a combined $106.4 million in those two years, but rather that they lost $7.5 million and $17.2 million, respectively.

The entire article is worth a read as we try to muddle our way through the posturing and get down to the real facts of the matter. But this excerpt pretty much explains why the NBA’s assertion (that 22 of 30 franchises are losing money) is misleading. Much of the ‘losses’ are costs associated with the transfer of ownership. Why should the players take on these costs? (Hint: They shouldn’t.)

Related Posts