We told you it was a real long shot in the first place, but now Dirk Nowitzki has helped us out by throwing a little cold water on the idea of him playing in Germany.
But like FIBA he left himself some wiggle room. Here is what Nowitzki told the Dallas Morning News:
“If it’s a long lockout, we all have to check over all our options,” Nowitzki said Tuesday. “You don’t want to lose a whole year. But that’s a long, long way away. We don’t know what’s going to happen with the collective bargaining and even then, there are a lot of other things that go into it. This was mainly just a bunch of speculation.”
Let us reiterate, Dirk Nowtizki is under contract to the Dallas Mavericks. They don’t own him, but they own the rights to say where he can ball. The only way any player under contract can sign and play with a team anywhere else in the world would be to get FIBA to sign a Letter of Clearance. FIBA rules say if you are under contract in one professional league you cannot sign with another unless you get that permission slip.
FIBA, however, left itself some wiggle room — if the entire next NBA season is wiped out with a lockout, are guys still under valid contracts? It’s an interesting question, one that some lawyers would get rich (or, richer) arguing because you can bet the NBA owners would fight any such release from a contract. (Free agents could make the jump.)
And sure, there are some smaller non-FIBA leagues out there in some less industrialized parts of the world. If you think any name NBA players are jumping to those I have a bridge you might want to buy.
If the coming lockout wipes out the entire next season — if a year from today there is no NBA basketball — then the contract question has some merit. But as Nowitzki said we are a long, long way from that. And for the sanity of myself and fellow hoops junkies, I hope it doesn’t come to that.