The big trend for players to go overseas was thought of, if not as a great equalizer in the lockout leverage game, then at least as a decent option of last resort. The players need to be able to show the owners they don’t need the only game in town. That’s pretty difficult on its own, but it gets even trickier when the other options present a whole host of separate problems. With talks having broken down about holding talks this weekend (as long as we’re not being childish, guys!), this is the worst time for there to be questions about whether overseas spots are a viable option for players. Yet that’s what we’re seeing.
For starters, Earl Clark, the young Magic player who had been playing in China, has parted ways with his team, according to a report. (HT: HoopsHype.) The move could have been simply a combination of personal reasons and logistics. Clark’s girlfriend is pregnant, and getting out of the contract now means he won’t have to deal with any stickiness if the league starts getting persnickety about players leaving once the lockout ends. (Despite all the commotion about players not having an NBA 0ut in their contracts, players like J.R. Smith, Kenyon Martin and Wilson Chandler will all be able to come home if they choose to simply be agreeing to a release from the team for “personal reasons.” It’s a handshake deal, essentially.)
Then there’s Deron Williams, who in a journal entry to ESPN.com doesn’t make it sounds like his transition to Turkey has been smooth.
Its a different game over here. There is less spacing, the officiating isnt the same. Pretty much every aspect of the game is different than in the NBA. Im just learning and adjusting as we go. I still havent found my rhythm. Before I got out here, I hadnt played any 5-on-5 basketball since last season. So its still that training camp stage for me and Im trying to get my rhythm and my timing down. It all comes with practice. When I first got here, I played in an exhibition in Italy without any practice at all. Now that weve had some time in the gym together, it has been better. Were still trying to get there though. Its a process.
Williams also talks about how hard it’s been because of the size of the apartment his family is living in (space is apparently hard to come by in Istanbul). Istanbul’s a lovely city, but there’s still a huge gap in the culture and way of life, as Williams is finding out, and he’s struggling on the court as well. As much as this was supposed to be the model for NBA players to survive the lockout, it’s looking more and more like more trouble than it’s worth.
Kind of like the lockout.