NBA Saturday: Players Struggling Overseas
One of the predominant storylines of the NBA lockout has been the overseas option for players. Nearly every player has been asked on the record at some point whether or not he’ll consider signing abroad, and 59 current players have already inked a deal with an international team. That number doesn’t include the long list of undrafted free agents and former NBA players that have signed overseas as well.
Throughout the past week, many of these players have made their overseas debuts. While many NBA fans expected their favorite players to go overseas and dominate, that hasn’t been the case thus far. Even the most well-known players such as Deron Williams and Ty Lawson have been underwhelming in their first action since the NBA season. The adjustment to a new country, team and rulebook hasn’t been easy for NBA players, and many have had to take a backseat to their international teammates.
Williams struggled during his debut with the Turkish club Besiktas, finishing with 15 points and 9 assists on 3-15 shooting. He was described as out of shape and hasn’t looked much better in recent games.
Lawson’s debut with the Lithuanian club Zalgiris Kaunas couldn’t have been any worse. He struggled on both ends of the court, finishing with 3 points and 1 assist in 17 minutes of action. He was benched for the second half, and it was clear that he wasn’t on the same page as his teammates.
Many NBA players signed overseas expecting to be the centerpieces of their new teams, but that hasn’t been the case. They’ve been in for a rude awakening early on. Austin Daye and Timofey Mozgov came off of the bench during their debut with the Russian club BC Khimki. Sonny Weems has played out of position at times with Zalgiris Kaunas, logging minutes at power forward for the first time in his career. Chandler Parsons was held scoreless for 36 minutes before he contributed two free throws during his debut with the French club Cholet.
International teams expected NBA players to struggle as they adapted to the change of scenery. In fact, some teams were only pursuing players that had international experience on their résumé because they didn’t want to go through this difficult adjustment period. Throw in the fact that many of the players are out of shape and joined their new teams late because of prior commitments, and it’s easy to see why many have disappointed in their first action since the NBA season ended.
Several players have already decided to leave their overseas teams. Rasual Butler left the Spanish club Gran Canaria after several weeks due to “personal reasons.” Earl Clark returned to the United States last week, leaving the Chinese team Zhejiang Guanghsa because of complications with his girlfriend’s pregnancy.
Things haven’t gone quite as planned for a number of NBA players and their new international teams. Their play may improve as the season continues, but who knows how long the individuals will remain overseas? If the lockout ends before the players are able to become fully acclimated, teams will have wasted their money on expensive rentals that struggled to contribute.
With superstars such as Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant continuing to weigh overseas offers, the storyline will continue to generate interest from basketball-deprived fans. Whether or not there’s a happy ending to this story remains to be seen.
Another Labor Meeting Today: During yesterday’s bargaining session, the NBA’s players and owners met for five hours, but weren’t able to yield significant progress toward a new collective bargaining agreement. However, the two sides will meet again today at 10 a.m. in an effort to save the upcoming NBA season.
Yesterday’s meeting featured plenty of star power, with LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul and Paul Pierce in attendance. Roughly 25 players in total traveled to New York for the session including Caron Butler, Eric Gordon, Udonis Haslem, Willie Green, Arron Afflalo, Baron Davis, Elton Brand and Theo Ratliff among others.
After the meeting, both sides reiterated that a lot of work still needs to be done. Talks were heated and, at one point, the players threatened to leave the room altogether because they were fed up with the owners’ stubbornness and attitude.
Throughout this process, several players have spoken off the record about the condescending tone that a number of owners and league officials have used during the talks. Wade, who hasn’t been present at other recent meetings, witnessed this behavior for the first time on Friday and stood up for his peers. When a frustrated David Stern pointed at players during a rant, Wade warned the commissioner not to point at him because he wasn’t a child.
While the superstars in the room led the charge yesterday, they won’t be present during today’s session. James, Wade, Anthony, Paul and Durant are in North Carolina today to play in Paul’s charity basketball game at Winston Salem State University.
During yesterday’s session, the two sides met separately for part of the afternoon before returning to the main conference room. There was also a brief private meeting between David Stern and Billy Hunter. There is a sense of urgency as both sides race against the calendar to agree on a new deal. If Saturday’s meeting goes well, the groups may return for another session on Sunday.
Despite reports that suggested otherwise, Stern didn’t make any threats to cancel the season during Friday’s meeting. However, if talks take a turn for the worse or the two sides aren’t closer to a deal by Sunday evening, it’s unlikely that the season will start on a time.
Today’s meeting needs to go well so that the talks can gain momentum and a deal can be finalized by next week. If that doesn’t happen, that’s when threats will be made and taken seriously by all involved.
News and Notes: Here are some news and notes from the past week.
• Derrick Rose has filmed a new adidas commercial to promote his latest signature shoe, the adiZero Rose 2. The 60-second spot was shot in Madrid and will begin airing on television on October 5, one day before the shoes go on sale. Check out the ad by clicking here.
• Several NBA players from Atlanta are trying to put together a team to take on the other regional squads that have been assembled during the lockout. Josh Smith, Jarrett Jack, Anthony Morrow and Lou Williams have been working out together this summer and are hoping to assemble “Team Atlanta” in the near future. Eligible players would include Dwight Howard, J.J. Hickson, Al Thornton, Jordan Hill, Derrick Favors, Al-Farouq Aminu, Kwame Brown, Josh Powell, Jodie Meeks, Toney Douglas and Jarvis Hayes among others.
• Zydrunas Ilgauskas announced his retirement on Friday afternoon. The 36-year-old center played 13 seasons in the NBA. Over the course of his career, he averaged 13 points, 7.3 rebounds and 1.6 blocks. He appeared in two NBA All-Star games and played in the NBA Finals twice.
HOOPSWORLD Chats: There is one chat on today’s schedule. Susan Bible will take your questions today at 11 a.m. ET. Submit your questions early because this chat fills up fast. To view all of HOOPSWORLD’s upcoming chats, click here.