With little progress coming out of the latest round of labor negotiations between NBA commissioner David Stern and National Basketball Players Association head Billy Hunter, NBA players are forced to consider the fact that Game 6 on Sunday or Game 7 on Tuesday could be the last time an NBA game is played for quite some time.
Everyone's back-up plan, at least in theory: Go to Europe and play there!
But one NBA agent with experience negotiating contracts overseas says that players are in for a rude awakening when it comes to demand for their services in the European market.
Agent Marc Cornstein, who recently negotiated a contract for former Boston Celtics center Nenad Krstic with CSKA Moscow, told SportingNews.com that economic factors will prevent very many players from finding high-paying work overseas.
“I think what a lot of people don’t realize is, you’re going to have a perfect storm of issues here,” Krstic’s agent, Marc Cornstein, told Sporting News. “The economy in Europe is not great, that is a consideration. The lockout here is a big consideration. The bigger teams, like Moscow, are going to be very aggressive early. But beyond that, there are very few teams overseas that are going to be able give lucrative contracts.Going overseas requires a lifestyle change. Certainly some percentage of NBA players wouldn't be interested for that reason. Others simply might not need the money.
“Maybe 10 or 12 teams will be able to give out $1 million contracts, and they only have 12 roster spots. A lot of those teams have players already under contract, players that they’re happy with. Not every team is going to be in a position to completely restructure the roster to bring in NBA players. None of them are, really."
But for fringe NBA players without future guaranteed contracts, international players that want to play closer to home, American players who simply want to compete competitively no matter what happens with the labor negotiations, and those who are looking to maximize their career earnings potential, there's plenty of motivation to explore the overseas option should these negotiations continue to drag. That is going to put a serious squeeze on the available spots, to be sure.
While we might not be there quite yet, the date for NBA players to commit to the overseas option is approaching very rapidly. This could soon become a matter of who jumps first.