You remember Sonny Weems, right? Spent the couple seasons before this in Toronto, played for Denver before that. Like a lot of guys on the NBA fringe, he had a hard decision to make during the lockout and he decided to get paid and signed to play in Lithuania.
Where he was part of their All-Star festivities and won the dunk contest with a performance that likely would have won him the NBA dunk contest. If he comes back to the NBA next year, put this guy in it.
Thanks to Ball Don’t Lie for finding this, and for telling us that as the winner of the Most Impressive Player award during the games he won a refrigerator. Seriously.
Agents expect overseas signings to escalate. Of course they do.
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.)
“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.
Report: Sonny Weems is headed to Europe as the floodgates open
Sonny Weems will be the first to say “screw it” and head overseas for the lockout. With Weems a restricted free agent, even after the Raptors extended a qualifying offer before Friday’s lockout was imposed, Weems was eligible to sign elsewhere, and has. Hoopsworld reports the young wing is on the verge of signing a one-year contract to play in Europe. The exact team is not known at this time.
Maybe more interesting than just the fact Weems signed overseas is that it’s a one-year contract with no NBA-out clause. So if the lockout magically gets resolved in the next four months, Weems would stay in Europe the entire season before returning in 2011-2012. A curious decision that could have been decided by the European club who likely had bargaining power over the star-power-less Weems, or by Weems himself, instead deciding to commit to one team for the entirety of the year versus trying to deal with anxiety over when to return if a lockout seemed to be ending but wasn’t officially.
It’s the start of what could be a trend, though reports are conflicted about whether players who are not free agents at the moment can play overseas. Draft Express’ Jonathan Givony reported yesterday that agents have informed him that they are confident they’ll be granted FIBA clearance to play overseas. Without that clearance they might be blocked, and the league will have a tricky time deciding how to approach the situation with FIBA. Attempting to block the players could result in a lawsuit and once one lawsuit enters the fray, it sets off a series in the lockout. Not blocking the attempts would give the players a financial lifeline, essentially killing the real power of the lockout. It’s definitely something to keep an eye on.
Toronto faces basketball shoe shortage (sort of). Blame NAFTA.
We’re just going to assume you haven’t watched any Toronto Raptor preseason games on League Pass yet. You probably have, it is appointment television and all, but for the purposes of this post we’ll assume that you have the games on the DVR but haven’t watched them yet.
Then you wouldn’t have noticed Toronto’s Leandro Barbosa wearing blue and yellow Brazilian colored kicks with his red-and-black Blazers unis. Or that Adidas-sponsored Sonny Weems was wearing Nike.
“(Adidas) is just having a little bit of a crisis right now. … It’s the first time ever,” said [Raptors equipment manager Kevin] DiPietro. “I just thank God (Barbosa) had his shoes from Brazil.”
Said Barbosa: “I don’t know what’s going on with adidas. All I know is, they’re late.”
Barbosa and Weems, both of whom are paid to wear the brand, said they’re not sure when to expect the new shipment of shoes in Raptors red, black and white. The company sent both players a box of shoes before training camp began late last month; DiPietro said he started inquiring about getting Barbosa’s favored model on the day the Raptors dealt for him in July.
We don’t know the cause, but I’m sure it had something to do with NAFTA. The Internet said so.
Add this to the list of things you can bet Adidas has cleared up fast. In the competitive basketball shoe world, news like this spreads like wildfire. And Adidas is not is a place to have its clients doing anything but singing their praises.
It’s all just a little odd, because as the story notes, NBA locker rooms are generally awash in free shoes for players. Except in certain parts of Canada, apparently.