At the end of the day, what is the job of an NBA players agent? Make his client as much money as possible. Picture Cuba Gooding Jr. yelling “show me the money.”
If a player isn’t going to be getting paid in the NBA — and a lot of agents think this lockout is going to drag on — then finding them some other place to earn a paycheck becomes a priority. (Also, the agent doesn’t get paid if the player doesn’t.)
With that, it shouldn’t be a shock that agents told the Sports Business Journal they expect more overseas signings.
“We are having a lot of conversations with (European) teams,” said Mark Bartelstein, president of Priority Sports & Entertainment, which represents about 45 NBA players and recently negotiated a one-year, $1.5 million deal for former Philadelphia 76ers forward Darius Songaila to play for Turkish team Galatasaray. The European market is in full force right now,” Bartelstein said, “and I would think (signings) will be an everyday occurrence….”
Greg Lawrence, an NBA player agent at Wasserman Media Group, which has a large NBA player practice, said, “We haven’t had any current NBA players sign over there yet, but I think it will happen soon.” Lawrence said all 15 player clients that he personally deals with have asked him about opportunities in Europe. “If teams make good offers,” he said, “I think there will be guys that go over there that will surprise you.”
European teams are wise to see if there is a fit — more marginal NBA players can have a big impact on a European team. Not every NBA player is a good fit — both in terms of style of play and of expectations and ability to deal with a very different environment overseas — but many are. Teams should be talking to guys they like, players would be smart to listen.
For guys like Nenad Krstic, Sonny Weems and Sasha Vujacic signing an overseas deal makes a lot of sense. For the big rumors — Dwight Howard, Kobe Bryant and guys of that ilk — the risk is much greater. That didn’t stop Deron Williams, and it may not stop other big names. But you’ll see a lot more movement among guys farther down the bench.