Warning: What follows is not good news for those of us hoping the lockout ends before the season starts. (Also, it’s pretty clearly posturing by the NBA players union.)
NBA veteran Etan Thomas, most recently of the Atlanta Hawks but now a free agent, is close to a deal with a Spanish club, Hoopshype reports.
What’s troubling is the why.
Free agent center Etan Thomas is seriously considering an offer to play in Spain, Thomas’ manager Carlisle Sealy told HoopsHype.
“He doesn’t see the lockout ending this season,” Sealy said.
Thomas is about as involved as any player in the negotiations, so that is not a good sign. Granted, this is the perception the union wants, that it’s players have options, but still, the comment by his agent is a bit unsettling.
That said, for someone like Thomas, he can make nearly as much is Spain if he commits to a full season — and he knows there will be a season.
It is every player’s favorite threat — “I can always play in Europe.” Dirk Nowitzki, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, a ton of players have pulled out the Euro card as an option.
It’s not really an option, not like they think.
So warns Nenad Krstic, who spent the last several seasons in the NBA (Thunder and Celtics) but signed with powerhouse CSKA Russia to play for them next season. Krstic spoke with the Boston Herald.
“I don’t think you will see a lot coming here,” Krstic said yesterday from his home in Kraljevo, Serbia. “Europe is not in a great situation financially. There are only four or five teams now that can offer much to NBA players, and those teams right now are almost full.
“That’s a problem for NBA players, I think,” he said. “It was a reason why I had to go right away. I got maybe the best contract in Europe because of that.”
That doesn’t even get into how players who are under an NBA contract need a special waiver from FIBA to play overseas, even during a lockout.
Talk to players that play overseas ad they will tell you that playing for the big names teams you know the names of — CSKA Moscow, Barcelona, Real Madrid — and playing for most teams are different experiences. The farther down the food chain you go, the more you run into teams that struggle with payroll, coaches on massive ego trips (and coaches have more power there) and more. It’s not exactly the NBA on the other side of the pond. And on the top teams, there will be few if any spots left by the time NBA players come knocking.
Just know that while it makes a good threat, it’s not such a practical option.
It is always fun to hear Stern spin. He is a master. His skill and bouncing between fanciful positives and exaggerated negatives never ceases to amaze. The guy is better than any politician.
The latest example is Stern traveling to NBA cities everywhere, talking to the media and never backing off the idea of contracting some NBA teams, saying it is on the table. Then one day is asked about the NBA possibly putting a team in Europe and he sees that happening in the next decade. AFP has the quotes.
“It’s a wonderful topic, because 10 years ago, I said, ‘Oh, it’s inevitable, it’ll happen in 10 years,'” Stern said at a business leaders’ luncheon (in Miami).
“And now what I’m saying is, ‘It’s inevitable, it’ll happen in 10 years.’ But in terms of globalization, we’re going to see a desire for franchises in Europe – and in about 10 years, you’ll send me a postcard.”
“I think we’ll have a division and I think the Heat will play in Boston one night and then they’ll go to Paris and spend a couple days on the Champs Elysses shopping and relaxing,” Stern said.
“And then they’ll go and play five teams. And when they finish that, they’ll play them again. Then they’ll come home, having had a nice trip to Europe and they’ll be finished with their European obligations.”
Right. We need to reduce costs and markets here, we need to be tighter and more profitable, but a division of teams in Europe makes sense.
The division in Europe is about as likely as contraction. And we told you that contraction is a red herring for negotiations, a bit of leverage between the big market and small market owners that Stern is putting on the Collective Bargaining Agreement table with the Players Association because it is a useful piece of leverage. The union doesn’t want to lose jobs, Stern says the owners will take contraction off the table, but the union has to give something up in return.
But it is always fun to hear Stern spin. He is a master.
There is enough chatter out there in the intelligence community that the United States warned travelers about potential terrorist attacks in Europe today.
Right as the Lakers, Knicks and Timberwolves are touring that continent of a preseason, game globalization trip. The Lakers and Timberwolves are in London, the Knicks in Milan. The Lakers will travel on to Barcelona.
Those trips will not stop, several team official told the Associated Press.
“The NBA is staying in contact with the U.S. embassy, the CIA and Scotland Yard,” Lakers spokesman John Black said. “They are keeping us informed of the situation.”
In a statement e-mailed to The Associated Press on Sunday, Mike Bass – the NBA senior vice president for marketing and communications – said the league is “taking all appropriate security measures” for the trip.
League commissioner David Stern is also in Europe as part of all these events. He and other players have been warned and they get additional security when they leave the hotel.
For Pau Gasol, this is not going to slow him down.
“I’ve been out of the hotel as much as possible,” Gasol said. “(London is) a great city to be out and walk around in, and experience things. It would be a crime to stay at the hotel.”