Should Players Like Deron Williams Consider Playing In Europe If An NBA Lockout Occurs?
But no, he’s not unhappy with the fact that the Utah Jazz traded him to the New Jersey Nets to play out the final year of his current contract. Nor is he pissed off at American reporters for asking him about said contract and his intentions of resigning with the Nets after it expires in 2012. Rather, D-Will is simply considering a very real option that could pop up if the NBA and NBA Player’s Association cannot come up with a new collective bargaining agreement after the current one expires this summer.
Much like the NFL, the NBA could have a crisis on its’ hands in July when the CBA runs out and the league, team owners, and the player’s union sit down to talk about a new one. If they can’t come to terms, players like Williams could be looking at a long summer, fall, and possibly even winter without any basketball. This could present some real problems for players like Williams who are at the peak of their careers and want to continue playing to avoid letting rust set in. And unlike their NFL counterparts, NBA players do have options in other countries when it comes to playing pro ball.
But, should these players take that option and use it to their advantage? Should they risk their bodies—and, in some regards, their minds—to play ball in a foreign country? Will the short-term paychecks pay off as much as they think they will? The truth is that it’s a tough decision. Because let’s say the NBA does lockout the players at the beginning of July and players immediately look for work elsewhere. There’s no telling when the lockout will end, how soon they’ll have to fly back to the States and get back to work once it does, and how any injuries that they sustain overseas might affect them once they do come back.
However, let’s say the lockout drags on for months and months at a time. Every day that NBA players aren’t on the floor, NBA owners are losing money. But the players are also losing money as well as exposure. And that might be the key here. How many guys will actually end up going to Europe to play—and will that determine whether it’s worth it for players to do it? If players are flocking overseas in large groups, it actually might not be beneficial for them to do it. But if, say, Williams and a few other elite players decide to do it, European owners will likely be happy to pay them large sums of money to come there—and the players would be able to keep their names in the headlines for playing basketball with ease. For someone like Williams, who is trying to break into a big market back home, that could be a win/win situation for him.
Of course, this entire argument is still theoretical. In a perfect world, the NBA and the players find a way to work out their disagreements over the new CBA, come up with a new one, and league play isn’t affected at all. But if we’ve learned anything from the problems that the NFL has had recently, it’s that money and greed will likely delay this process and force some players to at least consider the idea of playing basketball in Europe at some point in the next six months.
Then again, isn’t that option reason enough for the NBA and the NBA owners to stop toying with the idea of a lockout? This isn’t the NFL and, contrary to what they might think, NBA players—especially elite NBA players—could probably stand to benefit from a short-term lockout. So while we certainly want to see NBA players back on the court in American next fall, we really can’t blame them if they’re already starting to look for work elsewhere.