From Andy Kamenetzky, Land O’ Lakers: With the lockout now six days in the books, the world has waited for an NBA player to apply pressure by committing to an overseas squad. Sonny Weems fired the first warning shot, but was mostly met with responses along the lines of “Who is Sonny Weems?” On Thursday, however, things got a little more interesting. ESPN The Magazine’s Ric Bucher confirmed reports that All-Star point guard/theoretical Nets building block Deron Williams has agreed to play for Besiktas in the event of a prolonged lockout. (For those of you unfamiliar with the Turkish roundball circuit, this is the same team that briefly employed Allen Iverson.) With an agreement also in place with Hawks backup center — and serial head butter — Zaza Pachulia, Besiktas coach Ergin Ataman is apparently confident enough to shoot the moon:
From Dexter Fishmore, Silver Screen and Roll: Deron’s deal, which reportedly will pay him $200,000 a month plus perks, allows him to leave the Turkish club and return to the NBA as soon as the lockout is over. Any deal for Kobe would contain an identical out-clause. Not surprisingly given the present circumstances, deals to bring NBA stars over to Europe raise their share of complications. One is that FIBA, the governing body of international basketball, generally requires a player to obtain a letter of clearance before switching leagues. The letter would certify to the player’s destination league that he’s not under any remaining contractual obligation to the league he’s departing. It’s not at all clear, however, that the NBA is willing to provide letters of certification for its players during the lockout. For what it’s worth, according to Mark Stein of ESPN the NBA players’ union is taking the position that during the lockout, neither NBA nor FIBA has the right to block the movement of NBA guys to other leagues.
From Adrian Wojanarowski, Yahoo! Sports: From across the world, preening over the improbable signing of All-Star point guard Deron Williams, Turkish basketball coach Ergin Ataman was polishing the pitch of his life. “We want Kobe Bryant now,” Ataman told Yahoo! Sports by phone on Thursday. Ataman is the coach of Besiktas of Istanbul, and his basketball club sees the NBA’s owner lockout of players as a once-in-a-forever chance to transform this fledgling franchise’s global image. Once Besiktas was able to convince Williams to make the leap, the team is now determined to make the boldest play of all for Bryant.
From Sam Amick, Sports Illustrated: Don’t go buying your Euroleague Pass just yet, NBA fans. Or even the Eurocup Pass, for that matter. Deron Williams’ Turkish adventure is likely to be an aberration. When news spread of the New Jersey point guard’s decision to play for Besiktas during the lockout, there was immediate speculation that he could be the first of many stars to take their talents overseas despite the significant risk in making such a move. But numerous agents who spoke to SI.com weren’t ready to deem Williams a trendsetter, with his deal considered unique because of an opt-out clause which allows him to return to the NBA when the lockout is lifted. “I think it’s an interesting move,” said agent Marc Cornstein, whose client, former Boston center Nenad Krstic, opted to sign a two-year, $9.8 million deal with CSKA Moscow in June rather than wait on an NBA free agency period that won’t begin until after the lockout ends. “I’m sure it sent shock waves through the basketball world.
From Sam Amico, Fox Sports: This probably wasn’t what David Stern had in mind when he fought for the globalization of pro basketball. But now that the league is shut down with a lockout, Deron Williams’ decision to play in Turkey could be just the beginning. Williams is an All-Star guard with the New Jersey Nets. In case you haven’t heard, he has agreed to play for Turkish club Besiktas while the NBA owners and players association wait to reach a deal. Usually, these types of things have a snowball effect. After all, who doesn’t succumb to peer pressure — or in the minds of pro athletes and their agents, a really bright idea. By playing in Turkey, Williams can start playing (and getting paid) in late September. Even Stern has admitted the league can’t really object.
From Howard Beck, NY Times: Deron Williams is set to become the biggest N.B.A. star to play in Europe — a development that is bursting with intrigue, risks and caveats. Williams, the Nets’ star point guard, has agreed in principle to a one-year deal with the Turkish club Besiktas, according to the team’s coach. His commitment would begin Sept. 1 — when the N.B.A.’s lockout would be two months old — and the deal includes an escape clause allowing him to return when the lockout ends. “It’s the biggest signing in the history of European basketball,” Ergin Ataman, Besiktas’ excitable coach, said Thursday. The agreement was confirmed by Misko Raznatovic, a European agent who works with Jeff Schwartz, the Los Angeles-based agent who represents Williams. Ataman and Raznatovic first met last month in Istanbul to discuss possible deals involving N.B.A. players. Reports have pegged Williams’s salary between $200,000 and $350,000 a month, or $2 million to $3.5 million for the 10-month Turkish league season. Raznatovic said that Williams, 27, would get between $1 million and $5 million, plus a car, housing and the tax breaks associated with playing overseas. He will also be provided with a security guard, driver and personal assistant, all of them available 24 hours a day. Ataman later told SI.com that Williams’s deal would be paid for by a sponsor.
From Eddie Maisonet, Ed The Sports Fan: In my heart of hearts, the one person I honestly feel took “The Decision” harder than anyone outside of dudes who write in Comic Sans MS font is Month Williams. People can talk about how much the economy was affected both positively and negatively pre and post “The Decision” you could also debate the way we view Month Williams has been affected in the same manner. From being just another dude in Milwaukee who was low-key one of the most under appreciated players in the league to being traded to Cleveland and instantly being the second best player on the squad on a title contender. This is the boost any player would want…right?