International teams, as a rule, rarely try to cross the NBA when it comes to grabbing players from their ranks during a work stoppage. But with the NBA-enforced player lockout possibly cutting into the 2011-12 season, one Turkish team is attempting to launch a salvo. Besiktas has reportedly agreed to terms with New Jersey Nets guard Deron Williams. Williams has agreed to play in Turkey if the NBA lockout extends to the fall.
This is a startling and risky move because Williams is still under contract to the Nets and due to make about $34 million over the next two years before becoming a free agent in 2013. (He also has a player option that could allow him to jump from the Nets in the summer of 2012 and opt out of the $17.8 million New Jersey owes him). If Williams is hurt playing in Turkey, the Nets aren't obligated to pay him the remainder of his contract -- which means either Williams or Besiktas could need to secure an outside insurance policy to protect him. Williams was bothered by a right wrist injury last season that eventually required surgery.
The Besiktas contract he's reportedly set to sign won't hand him anywhere near that amount of money, but that's hardly the point. The kicker is that there is an international team that works under FIBA rules that is willing to potentially tick off both their governing body (FIBA) and make an enemy out of the NBA. FIBA, historically, has been too demure to try such things.
For Williams, though, Besiktas will make an exception. Here's the New York Daily News:
The signing was first reported by a Turkish TV station. The contract would pay the Nets star on a monthly basis.
The team, Besiktas, also signed Allen Iverson to a two-year, $4 million deal in October of last year.
"We are in talks with Williams. He is a bigger star than Iverson and would be the best player in Europe. We are close to an agreement," the coach of Besiktas told Turkish TV.
Williams has an out clause in the event the NBA kicks off on time in late October, according to the Turkish TV report. Earlier this week, Dallas' Rudy Fernandez considered playing in Spain, but decided not to go overseas, at this point.
Reportedly, the "monthly basis" entails pay around $200,000 per every four weeks, which (over the course of an entire calendar year) would actually be less than half of the NBA's average salary.
The big issue is the potential FIBA/NBA conflict.
FIBA depends on the NBA's influence, exhibition events and professional participants in international events to make some of its millions. During the last lockout, in 1998, FIBA teams only signed players that were locked out without an NBA contract, with the most famous example coming in the form of top overall pick and eventual Los Angeles Clippers center Michael Olowokandi, who played in Italy before the lockout resolved itself and he was allowed to sign his initial rookie deal.
But to pilfer a player -- no matter his stature, no matter the price -- who is under contract to an NBA team? It's completely court-legal, because Williams is locked out of his job right now. But it's also an opening salvo at the NBA.
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