FIBA, basketball’s international governing body said that NBA players who are serious about playing overseas are free to do so.
FIBA announced Friday it would clear NBA players under contract to play in its leagues during the work stoppage, provided the deals they sign come with opt-out clauses.
In a statement secretary general Patrick Baumann said, “In view of our role to promote basketball worldwide, we support any player wishing to play the game, wherever and whenever. We do so while obviously taking the interests, rights and obligations of all parties into account.”
Playing overseas is a growing option for NBA players amid a labor stoppage that threatens to wipeout the entire NBA season. Nets All-Star Deron Williams already signed a deal with Turkish club Besiktas — which is also in negotiations with Kobe Bryant. A number of other top players said they would consider playing overseas.
“Our players are gratified by today’s announcement by FIBA, although it comes as no surprise,” Billy Hunter, NBPA Union executive director, said in a statement. “We have consistently advised our members that in the event of a lockout they would have the right to be compensated for playing basketball irrespective of whether they were under contract to an NBA team or not. We have encouraged all of our players to pursue such opportunities and will continue to do so.”
Before FIBA will approve an NBA player to play overseas, there are a few requirements he must satisfy. First, the league must clear the player. The partial clearance given by the NBA means that the player must return to the NBA once a new CBA is reached. After getting NBA approval and signing a declaration promising to return, FIBA will then approve the player playing overseas.
“We don’t view it as really weakening the union. We view it as a gentleman is being told that he can’t come to work at a particular place and he’s temporarily unemployed and he’s seeking employment elsewhere,” Derek Fisher, president of the players’ association said.
While the possibility of All-star players shipping overseas, bear in mind a few things. First, it is doubtful there is enough money to lure a substantial number of players. Further, and probably most important, NBA teams could void their contracts if they are significantly injured playing in another league.
Still top players – including Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul – have stated they would consider playing overseas.
This is just another issue that is going to haunt the NBA as officials attempt to reach an agreement. Hunter, NBA commissioner David Stern and their top lieutenants have agreed to resume collective bargaining discussions Monday, sources told ESPN.com’s Chris Sheridan.