NBA players looking to work abroad

Marc J. Spears
Kenyon Martin is one of a handful of NBA free agents who have left to play in China

Any NBA big man looking for a job during the ongoing lockout should give Al Muharraq coach Charlie Parker a call. He needs a post player for his team in the Bahrain Premier League and is accepting applications. The pay isn't NBA standards, but it's not bad: $10,000-$25,000 a month, depending on experience, tax free, with use of a car and apartment.

Considering that most of the pro basketball jobs overseas are filled, this is one of the few available to the 400-plus NBA players still out of work.

"Most of the teams don't have the money to pay NBA players," said Parker, a longtime former NBA assistant coach. "We are probably the highest-paying team in Bahrain. They can dominate this league in a NBA system with a former NBA coach.

"How many players are going to go from making over $1 million in a season to $100,000? But this is a beautiful country, vacation spot."

After the Players Association rejected the latest offer from NBA owners and disbanded their union, several agents said their players are now considering playing overseas. But as Parker and European agent Obrad Fimic said, there aren't many jobs available.

Fimic said most teams can't afford to pay for an NBA player or for the needed insurance for their contracts. Teams are also concerned about the need for players to have an opt-out clause that allows them to return to the NBA after the lockout ends – but that could change if the season is canceled. One other turnoff: Some NBA players have struggled transitioning to the international game.

[ Related: Suns Aaron Brooks latest NBA player to go to China ]

The most attractive NBA players for overseas teams, Fimic said, are international ones with ties like Cleveland Cavaliers forward Omri Casspi(notes), who is returning to Israel to play for Maccabi Tel Aviv.

"They will not just bring in players [to Europe]," Fimic said. "Maybe two or three teams will do it. But I don't see a whole lot of players coming under NBA contract unless the NBA season is completely canceled. Then the situation might be changing. Are guys used to making $10 million to $20 million going to take a job making $30,000 per month?"

The only current NBA All-Star playing in Europe right now is New Jersey Nets guard Deron Williams(notes), who is playing for Turkey's Besiktas Milangaz Istanbul. Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant(notes) told Yahoo! Sports last Saturday he would seriously consider making the move overseas if the lockout wasn't settled soon. He has drawn interest from Maccabi Tel Aviv, Besiktas, Istanbul's Anadolu Efes, Spain's Valencia Basket and Germany's BBC Bayreuth.

"It's going to be open for guys whether they want to go long term or for a month," said Durant's agent Aaron Goodwin. "I believe there will be some opportunity."

Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry(notes) told Yahoo! Sports he is now open to playing overseas after Monday's action by the players' former union.

"I just opened the doors and I don't really have any clue as to a team or country," said Curry, who has experience playing against international competition with USA Basketball. "Technically, this is Day 1 for me. I know it's not an easy transition, but if the situation is right I can't resist the feeling of playing and competing again."

Still, Fimic doesn't believe the money is available for several NBA stars to come to Europe.

"Kobe [Bryant] is a superstar who never wanted to go. Now he could be ready, but who is going to sign him?" Fimic said. "A salary of $200,000 or $300,000 in the middle of the season is not realistic. LeBron James(notes)? Dwyane Wade(notes)? Then you got guys making $5 million there who can expect $100,000 or $200,000. And all these teams have players, and their rosters are set.”

American NBA players like Williams, Ty Lawson(notes), Kenyon Martin(notes), J.R. Smith(notes) and Wilson Chandler(notes) were among those questioned when they departed during the summer to sign overseas contracts. Martin, Smith and Chandler have committed to contracts that will keep them in the Chinese Basketball Association the entire season.

"You need to have an open mind about it because it's not the NBA," Martin said. "The travel is different. It's not what the guys are used to. Just know that you are going to play basketball. That will help. It's the same as home, just a longer road trip."

Xinjiang Gyang Hui is looking for a shooting guard after former NBA guard Quincy Douby(notes) suffered a season-ending wrist injury recently in a preseason game. The CBA title contender has interest in Atlanta Hawks free agent guard Jamal Crawford(notes).

"It has to be an option I look at now with the uncertainty of the future," Crawford said.

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