Jul 13, 2011, 8:03 PM EDT
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.