Whenever observers discuss which side may blink first in a lockout staredown, they mention the prospect of players getting tired of sitting around not getting paid. It's a legitimate problem, especially considering the lifestyles these men are used to as professional athletes. Plus, in many cases, they're the primary breadwinners for their entire extended families. They have lots of responsibilities and need money to fulfill them. We can laugh at the prospect of athletes going poor, but it's a serious issue nonetheless.
On the other hand, the lockout was a predictable event for several years now, so players and their representatives could have planned ahead. In fact, at least one agent negotiated his clients' NBA contracts with the lockout in mind. From Jeff Zillgitt for USA Today:
[Al-Farouq] Aminu, a rookie last season, is one of four clients of agent Raymond Brothers who spread their 2010-11NBA salaries over 18 or 24 months to continue receiving paychecks if the league-imposed lockout forces the cancellation of games.
Memphis Grizzlies forward Zach Randolph, Dallas Mavericks forward Caron Butler and Detroit Pistons guard Ben Gordon, all Brothers clients, have similar setups.
If games in 2011-12 are lost, "They will not know financially that they're in a lockout," Brothers said. "If there is a lockout, you'll able to pay your bills. And you're already used to a certain way of living because your paychecks will be consistent."
Players normally receive bi-weekly paychecks from Nov. 15 to May 1, although some opt for a November to November schedule. But Aminu will receive payments from last season until Nov. 1, 2012. Randolph will be paid through May 1, 2012.
It's a shrewd move by Brothers, one that's likely to help his players at a time when lots of players will rue their lack of regular paychecks. Ultimately, consistent paychecks for a few players will not sway the opinion of the greater group as to whether or not they should accept a new collective bargaining deal. But Brothers' approach is a sign that these athletes may be better prepared for the lockout than they were in 1998.
It's also the kind of tactic that could help Brothers' agency in the future. I have no idea if other agents planned contracts in this manner. If they didn't, Brothers stands as a forward-thinking agent, the kind of guy who will look out for a client's long-term well-being instead of chasing quick-fix profits. This maneuver is the kind of thing that sets agents apart.
Plus, now Al-Farouq Aminu is guaranteed to throw the best party of the offseason. When other players will be able to afford only a few two-liters of Safeway Select cola, Aminu will spring for Coke and Pepsi. Then everyone's happy!