NBA Sunday: Kobe Close to Turkey?
Kobe to Turkey Talk Heating Up
When Turkish basketball club Besiktas made the announcement that they’d signed Deron Williams to play for them during the lockout, the organization immediately added that they’d also like to sign Kobe Bryant.
Yeah, wouldn’t we all.
But according to Dave McMenamin of ESPNLosAngeles.com, Besiktas could actually have a legitimate chance at signing the five-time NBA champion and 13-time NBA All-Star.
“At the moment there’s a 50 percent chance that Kobe may come to Turkey,” said Seref Yalcin, head of basketball operations for Besiktas, earlier in the week. “Everything will be clearer after the meeting on the 30th [of July].”
Among the problems with a potential Kobe signing in Turkey is the fact that Besiktas currently has their money tied up while an investigation is held regarding match-fixing allegations for the Besiktas football club. However, if they can find sufficient funds elsewhere, like from Turkish Airlines, for whom Bryant is a spokesman, a deal could still get done.
Bryant reportedly wants $1 million per month from whoever ends up paying him. No bit of chump change, to be sure, but Yalcin himself said that “Money will not be a problem.”
For their part, Turkish Airlines has said publicly that Besiktas is talking with them about making this thing happen.
“We know that Besiktas is very much interested [in Bryant] and they’ve been in touch with our company as well, but we haven’t started any kind of negotiations or anything like that yet,” said Turkish Airlines spokeswoman Fatma Yuceler.
For fans of this Turkish team, it could be an exciting year with two of the NBA’s top ten players potentially making their way to the same club, though with so much uncertainty about how long they’d actually be staying, it almost feels like a lot of ado about not so much. D-Will and Kobe could play only a month or two overseas if a CBA is banged out relatively quickly. If it’s banged out extremely quickly, they could even end up not playing over there at all.
But when it comes to making money, furthering one’s brand, and just playing seriously competitive basketball, Turkey is as good as anywhere for NBA players to go. We may know soon whether Kobe Bryant is one of them.
Labor Negotiations Begin Tomorrow
On Monday, the league and the NBPA finally will meet and have their first labor negotiations since the lockout was imposed way back on July 1. Nobody is particularly optimistic about what will come out of this meeting, but the fact that Billy Hunter and David Stern will be in the same room, talking about labor stuff for the first time in a month is, at least, a starting point. Players, agents, and especially fans can at least be happy about that.
With the NFL freed from their own labor gridlock, and with trades and signings and cuts happening faster than any normal human being can even begin to process, it makes the NBA fan long for something similar in their own sport. That, unfortunately, is not going to happen in a day. If Rome wasn’t built that fast, a collective bargaining agreement between two sides this far apart isn’t going to get built that fast, either.
So what can we expect to have happen in Day 1 of official negotiations? More likely than not the two sides will sit down and remind each other how unfair they feel the other side is being. Both parties have had a month to prepare for their “opening statements,” so the expectation has to just be to get it all out there. Again. Don’t expect any major compromises just yet, but if these meetings remain frequent, and little bits of issues can get chipped away day by day, eventually progress will be made.
I’ve heard some fans ask why the players and the league don’t just lock themselves in a room and negotiate like crazy until something is agreed upon. That’s what a lot of unions do with their employers to ensure that there doesn’t have to be a work stoppage, but most other unions don’t have a lengthy offseason where there’s time to wait and position before a lockout or strike really starts to affect people.
They could lock themselves in a room, but neither side has a sense of urgency yet. Many players are still getting paid (plus they’ll get their escrow money back this year), and owners’ arenas would be closed right now anyway. That sense of urgency is going to be what really motivates the people involved in this to come up with a solution, and we’re just not there yet.
And since it seems pretty well established that we’re going to be waiting so long before really serious discussion begins, you can understand why so many believe regular season games are legitimately in jeopardy.
In the meantime, neither side feels like there’s much of a rush at this point, which is why it would be a small miracle to hear that anything was decided upon in Day 1 of negotiations. But not everything has to get done on Day 1. It’s just a start, but I think we’re all happy to know that this particular start is finally underway.
Biyombo’s Buyout Not Going Well
Bismack Biyombo was easily the most enigmatic player of the 2011 NBA Draft for a number of reasons, and the questions about his abilities on the court were apparently just the start.
The 6’9″ center with the 7’7″ wingspan still has a deal with his Spanish club and will need to be bought out in order to play in the NBA next season (should there be a next season, obviously). Reportedly, his former club wants the full $1.4 million they would need to buy him out, and since the Charlotte Bobcats, Biyombo’s new team, can only pay $500,000 of that, that means the lottery pick will be on the hook for almost a million dollars out of his own pocket just to free himself to begin playing for his NBA team.
But therein lies the conundrum. If you were Biyombo, and you had the option of spending $900,000 to sit and wait out a lockout during which you would not be paid by your new employer, or keep your $900,000, actually get paid $1.4 million by your old team, and get another year of professional experience before making your NBA debut, which would you pick?
Unlike some of the other foreign players taken in the 2011 lottery, Biyombo really isn’t ready to make an immediate impact. He’s got great defensive instincts and has the potential to be one of the league’s premier shot-blockers, but there might not be a single NBA player with less offensive skill than he’s got. An extra year of seasoning in Europe—with or without these frustrating buyout conditions—might be the best thing for him anyway.
Considering he could get paid for that seasoning instead of losing $900K out of pocket plus lost wages and professional practice time, it seems like staying overseas for another year is the smartest decision in a few different ways.
For all he knows, the entire 2011-2012 season could get cancelled, anyway. If that road works for Jonas Valanciunas, it could work for Bismack Biyombo, too. How he handles the situation will most certainly show where his basketball priorities lie. Choosing the buyout isn’t necessarily a bad thing; it just might not be the pragmatic thing.