Deron Williams has gone bold Turkey. The New Jersey Nets point guard says he has officially signed to play with a Turkish team during the NBA lockout.
Other NBA superstars threaten the same career change. Kevin Durant mentioned it. So did Dwyane Wade. Amar'e Stoudemire and Kobe Bryant, too.
No basketball over here, we'll go over there. That's the stance. No paychecks over here, no problem. Europe and Asia pay good money, if not necessarily dollars, for jump shots that swish the net.
Sounds good in theory. But sorry. Doesn't pass the smell test.
There's no accounting for Williams, who isn't who we thought he was anyway, having torpedoed the stately Utah Jazz last season. Write off Williams as the exception to the rule.
The curious cases of Durant and other superstars smack of pure negotiating bluster. Stars cast a wayward eye overseas, owners grow antsy.
Well, that's better strategy than giving David Stern a wedgie, but not by much.
The players want us to believe they'll sign on to play in venues and under conditions wholly inferior to the NBA standard?
In case no one has noticed, the NBA is lavish living. First-class travel. First-class accommodations. First-class officiating. First-class training staffs.
Nothing against the Besiktas club, but no way can a franchise in Turkey match the glitz and glamour and amenities of the NBA.
Yes, NBA stars spend all summer playing in sweaty gyms in front of empty bleachers. But they do so with absolute freedom to walk away at any point. Sign a contract, and walk-aways become much messier.
And yes, NBA stars spend many a summer playing for their national teams. Serge Ibaka appears headed for a tour with the Spaniards. But such excursions bolster the sport; the NBA and everyone else benefits when players commit to God and country.
This is different. The notion of playing for a team in the Euroleague is romantic, especially when your dander is up at NBA owners who called a lockout and have negotiated in bad faith.
But do you really want to risk your NBA future with potential injury in Europe? The whole NBA/international relationship as it relates to contracts is quite muddy.
The NBA has said that during the lockout, it won't restrict players under contract from playing overseas. But get injured over there, and watch the NBA get interested real fast in how much it has to honor its contracts.
There's too much at stake for Durant to seriously consider signing with a team in China, which apparently is gaga over Oklahoma City's beanstalk. Too much to lose for D-Wade to take his talents somewhere other than South Beach.
Loyalty is not an issue here. As Nazr Mohammed said the other day, there's no loyalty in sports other than from fans.
The least loyalty is shown by franchises, which trade players here and there and, since the lockout began, lay off employees even though the teams are out no money yet.
The international threat is not even an economic matter. Every NBA player will receive a hefty paycheck, thanks to escrow money.
Eight percent of each NBA player's salary is withheld each season “to ensure that the players' share of basketball-related income doesn't exceed the contractually agreed-upon percentage, currently 57 percent,” according to NBA.com.
This season, for the first time, the players' share did not exceed the percentage, thus the players get their money back. A minimum-wage player will get $37,888. An average-salaried player will get $456,000. A player making $16 million would get $1.28 million.
So even if these guys haven't been financially prudent, they're about to have some change in their pocket. They don't need Real Madrid to tide them over.
Add it all up, and the talk of signing contracts outside the NBA is lockout bluster.
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including AM-640 and FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.