Thunder forward Serge Ibaka is considering playing in Europe if the NBA's lockout drags on.
While vacationing in Spain, Ibaka recently told a radio station that he would be open to returning to Spain, where he played for two seasons prior to officially joining the Thunder.
“If there is a lockout, and there are not many complications to play in the CBA, I would like to return here to play,” Ibaka is quoted as saying.
Ibaka is the latest in a long line of NBA players who have expressed an interest in playing overseas in the event of a prolonged lockout. Former Thunder center Nenad Krstic, who was traded to Boston at the deadline, recently signed a deal with CSKA Moscow in Russia. But Krstic's contract had expired.
Ibaka, however, has two years remaining on his contract with the Thunder, and there is uncertainty with whether he or any other NBA player under contract can legally sign on to play for another professional team. Earlier this year, FIBA spokesman Florian Wanninger addressed the possibility of NBA players attempting to look for work overseas.
“In the event of an NBA work stoppage or players' strike, it would first have to be determined whether the players are still under a valid contract,” Wanninger said. “If this were the case, players cannot play elsewhere…If contracts are not valid any longer, they are free to transfer.”
The question is whether NBA players' contracts are considered valid during the lockout, when even players under contract are not receiving their salaries.
“I would rather play to stay in shape rather than stay idle,” Ibaka is quoted as saying. “We do not know how the lockout will go or the possibility for a player leaving the NBA to come to play here. But I would like an opportunity to play at a site where people like me. That would be nice, too.”