Rumors of players going overseas to play during a possible lockout have been constant this off-season, but Nets guard Deron Williams is the highest-profile player so far to have actually signed a contract with an overseas team, Turkey’s Beskitas.
The video itself isn’t all that riveting, but it does show that Williams is actually going to follow through with his Turkish contract, which is the kind of thing that suggests the players might hold firm and sacrifice the 2011-12 NBA season before they acquiesce to the demands the owners are making during the CBA talks.
By the way, Deron Williams still is not in Turkey. Yet.
Deron Williams was supposed to arrive in Turkey on Tuesday afternoon, but experienced “passport troubles” that caused a slight change of plans. If all goes as planned, he’ll leave for Istanbul today.
There are still a lot of agents and league executives that think Williams will bail on this adventure early, even though he has said nothing of the sort. Those doubters see the millions Williams would get in his new contract next summer and wonder why he would risk injury. Williams has said his wrist is not 100 percent. But Williams had had nothing but positive things to say, and as of today he will set foot in Turkey, which is more than some doubters ever expected.
Yesterday we brought you word how a highly-respected, old school Turkish national team assistant coach ripped Enes Kanter as not ready for the NBA. Which would be pretty bad news for the Utah Jazz as they drafted him No. 3 overall back in June.
Today came the rebuttal, with the honors going to Turkey’s first year head coach Orhun Ene.
He put this on the Turkish Federation Web site, the translation is via Hoopshype.
“As the head coach of Turkish National Team I’m not the only one who’s happy about the performance of Enes Kanter’s in the national team. All my assistants, all of the executives, to sum it all everybody is happy with Enes and every one of us strongly believe that he will be very successful both in the NBA and Turkish National Team” said Ene.
“Although he didn’t play for nearly one and a half year he quickly adapted to our team and established a position where he can show his basketball skills. Though he is very young what he can do on the basketball court is unbelievable. I believe that he’ll even be better before Eurobasket 11 in Lithuania starts which is a great news for us.”
I’m not going to pretend to know the dynamics of the Turkish national team coaching staff. But I will add this reminds me a little of how Tex Winter and Phil Jackson used to work — Winter was Jackson’s conscious. Winter could say things publically about Shaquille O’Neal or Kobe Bryant that Jackson could not because Jackson needed to preserve a relationship for motivational reasons. If Tex said Kobe was shooting too much, Jackson could smooth it over and still make sure the message was heard.
Not sure if that is the dynamic here, that’s just what it reminds me of. Jazz fans, go ahead and thing the head coach is spot on if you want.
If you thought Phil Jackson was weird, check out Turkish coaches
Phil Jackson did some pretty out-of-the-box things as a coach — group meditation and drum beating to get his team focused and unified. That whole Zen thing of letting teams find their own way by not calling timeouts.
But he has nothing on what is going on in Turkey.
That is where Deron Williams and a number of other NBA players are headed during the lockout to sharpen their games and make a little extra cash during the lockout.
He was playing for Mercin of the Turkish Basketball League, the same league superstar NBA guard Deron Williams has agreed to play in during the lockout. They’d lost their first four games of the season and rumor was, if things didn’t get better soon, heads were going to roll.
“The coach didn’t speak any English,” says Baron, a 3-point specialist from the University of Rhode Island. “But he motioned me to come out in front of the arena with the whole team. He put us in a circle and there’s this goat standing there. All of a sudden one of the assistant coaches gets out this huge machete. And then — whack! — he cuts the goat’s head off!”
The Turkish players immediately stuck their fingers in the blood of the neck and wiped it on their foreheads.
“Then they started motioning for me to do it,” Baron remembers. “I’m like, ‘You gotta be crazy!’ And I got the heck out of there.”
Then there are the stories of rowdy crowds chucking batteries and worse at the opposing team. There were teams cutting off the electricity to the homes of players who aren’t living up to expectations. Then there is just living in a country with deep-seeded anti-American feelings among the population.
Maybe a few American stars can help bridge that gap a little (although other Americans have been playing there for years). More than likely, it’s just going to be an interesting side show while Billy Hunter and David Stern have a staring contest across a table.
Enes Kanter’s Turkish coach say he’s not NBA ready
Earlier today we told you how frustrated Utah Jazz draft pick Enes Kanter is with not having been able to play much the last couple of years (what with the NCAA sidelining him at Kentucky and now the lockout). We also have told you how that has impacted his game — he’s shown potential in one-on-one situations on both ends of the floor, but when it comes to teamwork concepts (like help defense) he’s looked lost.
Which is our way of saying there is potential in there, but it’s going to take some work to get it out.
“All the coaching staff and people around basketball think that it is too early for him to go there (to the NBA),” said Nihat Izic, an assistant head coach of the Turkey National Team told Beyond the Beat.
“He has the chance to play in the Euro League and then after that, when you feel you are ready, then you go to the NBA. He decided to go, and I’m not sure who gave him that advice. I don’t want to go there.”
Since Kanter went No. 3 overall he could say “NBA scouts think I am.” More accurately it would be scouts think he has a lot of potential and he is going to paid a lot of money to learn on the job.
But Utah fans should be warned — there is a lot of learning to do. This is a project that may not pay off for a few years. Patience, Jazz fans, patience.