NBA players look overseas
By John McMullen, Sports Network
|NBA Commissioner David Stern briefed the league's Board of Governors on the antitrust lawsuits on Thursday. (REUTERS/Jessica Rinaldi)
PHILADELPHIA - The NBA lockout reached its 141st day on Friday with little hope on the horizon.
A conference call among the owners Thursday turned out to be little more than a litigation update from David Stern.
The commissioner briefed the league’s Board of Governors on the antitrust lawsuits filed against the NBA in California and Minnesota, along with the already pending case in the Southern District of New York in which the league is requesting that the lockout be immune from antitrust attacks since the players have essentially dissolved their union.
By all accounts no new strategy was discussed by the owners and no further meetings were put on the books.
The NBPA, of course, disbanded Monday, and players filed their two lawsuits on Tuesday. The antitrust suit filed in the Northern District of California was assigned to U.S. District Judge Samuel Conti with the first case management conference set for March 9, 2012, a date that would certainly be far too late to save any of the 2011-12 season.
The one glimmer of sunshine came from David Boies, who is representing the players in the California antitrust suit. The high profile attorney said he hoped it would not be necessary to litigate the case to a conclusion, indicating the threat of an extended legal process would force both sides back to the bargaining table at some point.
That’s pie in the sky thinking right now, however, and as things grow bleaker, more and more players are opening up to employment opportunities overseas - even bigger names like Kevin Durant and Dirk Nowitzki.
The agent for Durant, Aaron Goodwin, confirmed a SPOX.com report Thursday that the reigning scoring champ is in talks with BBC Bayreuth in Germany.
“We’re in the final stages of a deal and I’m an optimist. It’s not looking bad,” Bayreuth GM Uli Eichbaum told SPOX.
Last weekend Durant also claimed he was weighing offers from Maccabi Tel-Aviv in Israel and Valencia in Spain.
“I’m right on the fence with playing overseas and I’m about to jump over,” the Oklahoma City superstar told YAHOO! Sports.
Nowitzki, meanwhile, hasn’t ruled out a return to Germany and his shooting coach Holger Geschwindner claims if the NBA Finals MVP does make the move it will be for the season.
“This week we are going back to work, Dirk has not touched the ball since the European Championship at the end of September,” Geschwindner told Agence France-Presse. “If he goes anywhere, he will be going there for the whole season.”
Bulls stars Luol Deng, a naturalized British citizen, and Joakim Noah, who holds American, Swedish and French citizenship, are also looking toward Europe now that the lawyers are involved. Deng has been considering offers for weeks according to his agent Herb Rudoy and Noah has been fielding deals in his father’s native country of France.
Phoenix restricted free-agent guard Aaron Brooks has already agreed to a one- year deal with Guandong of the Chinese Basketball Association, while the Xinjiang Flying Tigers in the same league have offered free agent Mavs guard J.J. Barea a contract.
The biggest hurdle in any of these potential deals is insurance but some like Sixers forward Andres Nocioni are willing to play without a safety net. Nocioni signed a deal with Penarol in his native Argentina without insurance to cover his existing NBA contract.
“It was something complicated and very expensive for the club and at the end it didn’t cover it all,” Nocioni told Chance Llena. “Also, it would take more days for me to start playing, it could even prevent me from playing the Super 8 tournament. I took that decision because I love basketball, I need to play.”
If only more NBA players shared Nocioni’s viewpoint.