Thunder center Byron Mullens has signed with the Greek basketball club Panionios, becoming the first Thunder player to circumvent the NBA lockout by heading overseas.
Mullens' contract allows him to return to the NBA whenever the lockout is lifted, meaning he won't miss a second of the Thunder's season — if there is a season.
In a Q&A with The Oklahoman just hours before leaving for Greece on Wednesday, Mullens talked about his decision to play overseas, whether he thinks more Thunder players will follow suit and the joy of married life.
Q: How did this deal happen?
A: Basically I was pretty much just waiting to hear about what's going on with the lockout and was talking to my agent about it. And we decided to see if we could get a deal going overseas to play. I've been working out all summer. We thought it'd be best to just get a different feel. You can only get better to a certain point working out by yourself.
What was appealing about playing overseas?
Just the experience. There's probably not going to be an opportunity to go over and see Athens, Greece. Aside from just going over and getting the experience of playing basketball, I'll also get to experience going over there and seeing another country. It didn't really matter where it was, I was going to jump on it either way.
Did you have any other offers?
Yeah. We had a few other teams. But we were kind of sitting around waiting to hear from them. But when we heard from the team in Greece, they were kind of 100 percent (in) with their deal. So we just took that one.
Have you ever been to Greece?
Nope. This is my first time.
What are you most looking forward to, the city or the team or just the atmosphere?