From CSNChicago.com’s Aggrey Sam:
Born in South Sudan and growing up in London, Luol Deng exploring the option of playing abroad during the ongoing NBA lockout doesn’t come as a surprise. A posting on the website of his agency, Interperformances, Tuesday, stated the Bulls small forward was “considering to play overseas.”
Deng reportedly told British-based website mvp247.com, “I always wanted to play in Europe.
“I always wanted to see what my game would be like. There’s a part of me, because of growing up in England, I’d like to be close to there.”
If Deng, who played for Great Britan’s team during this summer’s FIBA EuroBasket Tournament, were to go overseas, it would be a fairly big deal. Deng isn’t on Deron Williams’ level as an individual player, but he’s a key piece of the team that finished with the NBA’s best regular-season record last season — if Deng’s contract with a team in Europe makes it difficult in any way for him to return to the Bulls immediately after the lockout is resolved, Deng’s overseas sojurn could actually change the landscape of the Eastern Conference until he gets back with the team and re-acclimated to his teammates.
UPDATE (7:24 PM): Per Howard Beck of the New York Times, George Cohen will not be coming back to the collective bargaining sessions after all. Plus, there remains no scheduled time or date for the resumption of talks. Delightful news all around.
2:18 PM: The negotiations to end the NBA lockout are not ongoing — in fact, at present, anything but going. Representatives of the league and the NBPA aren’t camped out in a room for marathon sessions, nor are such sessions even planned. Everything is quiet, and yet the revenue split between the two parties hangs in the air. The 2.5 percentage points of basketball-related income (BRI) that separate the NBA and the union nudge actual basketball just out of reach, and for the moment there aren’t even discussions on how best to deal with that gap.
Yet the leadership on both sides of the negotiations know that more talks are the only way to produce an agreement, even if there’s currently a bit of a stalemate. More meetings are an inevitability; we may not know precisely when the gang will get back together again, but we can say with confidence that they will.
And this time around, they may have another appearance from a recurring guest. According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports, George Cohen, the federal mediator who guided talks between the NBA and NBPA two weeks ago, may be brought back to facilitate further negotiations. Considering how quickly previous discussions seemed to implode once the subject of BRI was breached, I’d say some mediation — of the federal, or just about any other variety — is precisely what these negotiations need. Both sides have claimed a hard line, but waiting for the other party to break isn’t a negotiation at all. The NBA and NBPA obviously want a deal that’s financially sound from their perspective, but one has to believe that there is some middle ground that can be reached without one side or another “winning” the lockout negotiation outright by way of the other finally breaking.
Cohen isn’t likely to arrive to any negotiation with that solution in his pocket, but he could bring a new tone to a negotiation process that failed to capitalize on last week’s incredible momentum.
According to multiple sources, the lockout talks between the player’s union and the owners have hit an impasse over the BRI split. The players want 52%, the owners want to give them 50%, and neither side is budging.
Talks for the day are reportedly over, and according to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, no future talks have been scheduled yet.
Reports from multiple sources say more games will be cancelled today (or in the next 24 hours).
The issue was more than just BRI, the two sides got stuck on the final details of the system issues as well.
If you want to see basketball soon, there’s no good way to spin this — each side wants what it wants, and each side is willing to sacrifice games in order to try to get it. After a brief window of hope, things are looking grim once again.
Only a handful of NBA players have officially signed to play in China during the NBA lockout, but another may not be too far behind. According to Marc Stein of ESPN.com (via Yahoo’s Scoop du Jour blog), Rodney Stuckey is being courted by the Guangdong Southern Tigers, and unlike many other NBA players, actually has the free agent status to make a deal with a Chinese team possible. The Chinese Basketball Association has outlawed the signing of players with existing contracts in other leagues (even if those leagues are inactive), and thus can only target restricted and unrestricted free agents among the suddenly available crop of NBA players.
It’s natural that Stuckey would be a target among the current free agents; he’s not exactly a stellar player, but Stuckey is nonetheless an intriguing, balanced talent capable of contributing across the board. He’d likely do very well in a stint with the Chinese Basketball Association, and in the process earn himself some lockout coin. So long as he’s willing to give up on the possibility of playing in the NBA through March, the Tigers could be a nice spot for Stuckey to spend a few months.
That said, Guangdong’s interest in Stuckey pales in comparison to the NBA’s mid-season reality if free agents continue to sign deals in China. As Marc Stein noted in his report, Yi Jianlian would be able to return to the NBA at a time of his choosing, but Kenyon Martin, J.R. Smith, Wilson Chandler, and any player who isn’t a Chinese national would be obligated to remain in China until the CBA season wraps in March (at the earliest; championship-level teams continue playing into April). Martin and Smith would then become unrestricted free agents, giving some lucky team (with cap space or a salary cap exception to spare) the opportunity to add a rotation-caliber player for a final push. There are obviously some problems with adding a contributor so late in the season, but the prospect of picking up Martin or Smith at that stage — past the trade deadline, mind you — without surrendering any assets will undoubtedly be appealing.
As for Chandler (and Stuckey, should he choose to take the Tigers up on their offer): who knows what the restricted free agency protocol will be like for a player entering the pool mid-season? Will the Nuggets get Chandler back by default because they issued him a qualifying offer? And if so, why is he being treated like a true free agent in regard to his ability to sign in China? Chandler and Stuckey could induce a surreal mid-season bidding war if they’re allowed to go through their customary free agent process while the season is still in stride. Denver and Detroit would have the natural advantage in retaining their respective players, but there’s always a chance that either player could be swept off of their feet — particularly if either incumbent team is leery of the penalties of a new, oppressive luxury tax. There will either be an odd contradiction in free agent status or one of the weirdest mid-season events in league history. The kicker? Things will only get crazier as more free agents commit to play in China for a chunk of the NBA’s season, leading to an unprecedented influx of familiar NBA talent with the playoffs just around the corner.
That’s it. You’re done. You are going to walk away from the NBA. You’re sick of the pampered millionaire players. You’re sick of the hardline, greedy NBA owners. This lockout — now at day 116 with no talks scheduled and some games cancelled — has pushed you over the edge. You are walking away from the NBA.
You’ll be back.
That’s not the wishful thinking of owners and players (although they both think that, too). That’s history and the pattern of fans. They did the research over at the Cleveland Plain Dealer, which led to an interesting story.
Statistical analysis compiled from the last seven major American labor disputes — ones that forced cancellation of regular-season games — shows fans eventually return to the arenas and stadiums. Although talk shows and Internet message boards roil with anger and invective as games are being lost, supporters rarely stay mad forever. They come back to their couches, their PSLs, their fantasy leagues….
“It might take a season or two, but fans usually forgive and forget,” said David Carter, executive director of the USC Sports Business Institute and author of Money Games: Profiting From the Convergence of Sports and Entertainment. “Sports still play a vital role in our society. A lot of people see them as a pleasant diversion, a respite from the grind.”
This lockout is not the same as the last one the NBA suffered, or even the devastating one that cost the NHL an entire season for one reason — the economy. In a nation where teachers are getting laid off, where people can’t figure out how to pay their health insurance bills and where unemployment is at the highest levels in generation, this lockout strikes a more raw nerve. Fans will stay away longer.
But usually, when the local team starts winning or giving reasons for hope, the fans come back. That is the pattern, according to the study of past lockouts.
The story of the ’95 Indians supports their theory. Andrew Zimbalist, an economics professor at Smith (Mass.) College, considers the ’94 Major League Baseball strike as one of the most damaging in sports history. Average baseball attendance waned for three seasons following the labor discord, but not in Cleveland.
A robust local economy coupled with a contending team that played in a new downtown ballpark helped draw 455 consecutive regular-season sellouts for five-plus years.
Go ahead and be angry. It’s to be expected. But know that the players and owners believed that you will come back. It may take five years, but the game will bounce back. And they are betting big on that right now.