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Union letter to NBA players: Keep looking overseas

Jul 13, 2011, 8:03 PM EDT

Billy Hunter AP

It’s all about leverage.

In a letter sent out to 450 NBA players, players union Executive Director Billy commended Deron Williams and all but encouraged players to look overseas. He said that he did not think FIBA or the NBA would stand in a player’s way (FIBA would have to clear players under contract to play overseas).

Why would the union encourage player flight to Europe (or at least talking it up)? Leverage in the Collective Bargaining Agreement talks. Take it away New York Times.

“This lockout is intended to economically pressure our players to agree to an unfavorable collective bargaining agreement,” Hunter said in the letter, a copy of which was obtained by The New York Times. “It is important for owners to understand that there may be significant consequences to their decision to put their own players in these difficult economic circumstances.”

Hunter said, “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.”

Hunter did warn them to get insurance and make sure there was an out clause in any deal.

Williams is the only big name player to come to terms on a deal overseas (and he got those protections). The other guys who signed are lower-level and fringe NBA players who might be smart to take the sure deal with a European team.

But a rash of stars have said they are open to it — Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, Dwyane Wade, Dwight Howard and so on. Of course they have. They are smart businessmen, they don’t close doors on opportunities.

And, they understand leverage.

But if they think it’s going to be anything like it is here, they need to talk to Josh Childress.

  1. 1historian - Jul 13, 2011 at 9:11 PM

    I would LOVE to see that happen’ – Bryant, Durant, Wade, Howard – cream of the crop.


  2. jaypace - Jul 13, 2011 at 10:24 PM

    “Difficult economic circumstances” don’t make me laugh.

  3. goforthanddie - Jul 13, 2011 at 10:28 PM

    “Overseas” is NOT a viable option and the owners know it. You think there’s room on foreign rosters for the majority of NBA players, esp. when foreign teams have limits on how many Americans they can sign?
    “players union Executive Director Billy” just looks stupid saying such things. Of course, he looks stupid not having a last name too, but that isn’t his fault, is it?

  4. savocabol1 - Jul 14, 2011 at 8:31 AM

    Funny because all of the owners know that the players will not do this. Maybe some B level stars will go over there but you won’t see any All-Star from the past three years go anywhere. And that will not hurt the NBA by any means. The players are all talk.

    • LPad - Jul 14, 2011 at 9:57 AM

      Deron Williams has been an all star during the last three years. He was on the redeem team too and is considered one of the top pgs in the game. And he’s already going. For the stars of the league the risk is a lot smaller than the media is making it out to be. Especially, given the endorsement money.

      The injury thing is nonsense. Do you really think the Lakers would void Kobe’s contract if he tore an ACL playing ball overseas? Or that a Chris Paul won’t get a big contract when he’s a free agent if he breaks his wrist? These are the same owners that gave Roy a max contract after the doctors said his knees were shot. Unless these guys sustain a career ending injury, there’s no way their deals get broken and even then it’s after major litigation that owners aren’t guaranteed to win.

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