It was the one question left surrounding NBA players inking overseas deals — would FIBA, basketball’s international governing body, allow players under an NBA contract to play for another team?
Yes they will.
FIBA made the official announcement Friday, saying it will give players under contract to an NBA team a “letter of clearance” to play overseas so long as there is an opt-out clause that allows them to return to the NBA once the lockout ends.
“As the world governing body for basketball, we strongly hope that the labor dispute will be resolved as soon as possible, and that the NBA season is able to begin as scheduled,” said FIBA Secretary General and IOC member, Patrick Baumann in an official release.
“In view of our role to promote basketball worldwide, we support any player wishing to play the game, wherever and whenever. We do so while obviously taking the interests, rights and obligations of all parties into account,” he added. “We are delighted to see that, in spite of widespread doubts related to the lockout, National Teams competing in this summer’s Olympic Qualifiers will be able to count on the participation of most of their NBA stars.”
This is a win for the players union, which wants players to sign overseas to give it leverage in the labor negotiations. It shows that players have options besides the NBA (just not as many or as good of options).
Deron Williams of the Nets is the biggest name to sign overseas, but a number of other players have signed or are in negotiations. This applies only to players who have years left on an existing NBA deal, free agents (such as Sasha Vujacic) were always free to sign wherever they wished.
FIBA also issued a warning with this.
Any NBA player deciding to play during the lockout, does so at his own risk, notably if he sustains an injury.
FIBA has stated that it is up to the clubs to decide whether or not they shall sign a waiver clearing them of any responsibility towards the player in case of injury and other reasons preventing him from returning to the NBA and from fulfilling his obligations vis-à-vis his NBA team.