The question everyone now wants to know during this lockout — aside from when it will end — is how many NBA players are strongly considering a European career?
When news broke last week of New Jersey's Deron Williams' decision to take his talents to Turkey, the first two words most observers could form following ‘Wow' was ‘Who's next?' If one of the three best point guards in the league is willing to sign overseas, what's stopping hundreds of other NBA players from following suit?
The answer could be the NBA.
That's why the question we should be asking is what can/will the NBA do?
On the surface, the league's hands appear to be tied.
In Article XXX, Section 4 of the NBA's now-expired Collective Bargaining Agreement is a clause prohibiting players or their union from allowing players under contract to play for another professional basketball team. Under normal circumstances, that one section could hold up in a court of law and block players under contract from signing overseas. But that language is worthless now that the labor agreement is expired.
During this work stoppage, all player contracts are suspended, meaning they technically don't exist at the moment. Players aren't getting compensated. There are no rules. And with all contact and communication with players having been banned, league and front office executives can neither discourage nor discipline a player who chooses to play elsewhere.
But there is gray area.
There is no telling the extent of litigation the league might be willing to engage to prevent a mass exodus. And there is no way to be sure whether a legion of lawsuits would work.
The International Basketball Federation (FIBA) also has to issue a letter of clearance to approve players under contract with other professional leagues to compete in its leagues. And there is no guarantee that FIBA will grant that clearance, especially not when you consider how the NBA — which has spent decades building up basketball internationally — might frown upon FIBA for now raiding its talent. FIBA is expected to address the situation with its clubs this week, according to the Associated Press.
Section 4. Best efforts of Players Association
The Players Association will use its best efforts: (a) to prevent each player from rendering, or threatening to render, services as a professional basketball player for another professional basketball team during the term of a Player Contract between such player and the Team for which he plays (except as said Player Contract may be assigned, sold, or transferred in accordance with the provisions of such Player Contract or this Agreement)...
Source: 2005 Collective Bargaining Agreement