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Ball Don't Lie

Two NBA agents agree that there never were really any overseas gigs for NBA players

Kelly Dwyer
Ball Don't Lie

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Agents are telling the truth about the paucity of available overseas gigs for NBA players, so either the New York Times' Howard Beck has come across a recipe for truth serum, or a pair of player reps are pushing an agenda in hopes of limiting the NBA Players Association's leverage and eventually decertifying it. We suspect the latter, but we appreciate the honesty. Especially after months of bogus twaddle regarding the supposed eventual exodus of dozens of NBA stars to international teams.

That won't be happening, say two prominent agents in the Times, and for all the reasons you've suspected all along. International teams are doing just fine without a rent-a-All-Star, they can't afford the lease anyway, and that little thing called "basketball chemistry" is getting in the way of signing an NBA vet to a contract that might only be valid for a few weeks.

From the NYT:

"There's not a lot of jobs," said Mark Bartelstein, whose agency, Priority Sports, has 15 clients playing overseas. "The season's under way over there, so everybody's got their rosters full. Is there potential that there may be some team that wants to try to carve out some opportunities for players? I think that's possible. But the economics are not such that there's a lot of teams that can afford to do that."

An N.B.A. player who goes to Europe might earn as little as $50,000 to $75,000 per month — a fraction of what most make in the N.B.A., where the average salary is $5.8 million a year and the minimum is nearly $500,000.

[…]

Additionally, the foreign leagues have all begun play, which will make them hesitant to sign new players — especially when they might leave in a few weeks.

"That's a big hurdle," said the agent Happy Walters, whose N.B.A. clientele includes Amar'e Stoudemire. "Coaches are going to want to build a homogenous team. Someone's going to leave. That disrupts the team."

Thank you, agents, for finally confirming what most NBA scribes have been saying for months. Even if you have a log in this fire.

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If international teams truly wanted to pilfer the NBA's ranks, they would have been bidding ages ago. The idea that the NBA could, at the very least, stay locked out for the duration of the offseason was in place two years ago, and overseas squads were as tipped off as the rest of us. They could have set aside money long, long ago in the same way that an NBA team makes a point to clear cap room two summers from now. And yet, no team outside of one Turkish squad made a point to. You can blame the collapse of the Euro for that, but the real reason is that international teams just cannot be bothered. Even for Kobe.

And it's just another indication of just how much the Players Association is getting its rear handed to it by the NBA itself. There never was any leverage, and in a month dominated by football and the baseball playoffs, there's not a lot of outrage as the NBA canceled the first two weeks of the season.

Not a lot of jobs, either. See? NBA players are just like you and me, in that regard.

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