The NBA lockout has already inspired change. Team websites now prominently feature dancing teams. Manu Ginobili could not even wish his friend (and Spurs trainer, Will Sevening) happy birthday. Chris Bosh needed NBA clearance to invite Miami’s coaching staff to his wedding. I have nothing whatsoever to write about. And now both Boston Celtics draft picks (not to mention Deron Williams) will consider spending next season overseas. (Boston Herald)
The lockout abruptly turned JaJuan Johnson and E’Twaun Moore back into civilians last week after they barely had time to taste the Celtics life.
But that doesn’t mean the two rookies now have to wait by the phone for team president Danny Ainge’s call once the padlocks are removed with a new collective bargaining agreement.
The agents for both players are exploring overseas options that could find either or both in a foreign league next winter.
“It’s all over the board right now, but some Euroleague teams we’ve talked to are interested,” said Mark Bartlestein, who represents Moore. “It’s a day-to-day thing. We really don’t know yet.” …
Bill Duffy, whose agency represents Johnson, said last week that he is looking into the international option for all of his young players, who may have a unique appeal to foreign teams.
For the players, the move makes sense. Given the option between A) staying in the United States, earning no money, working out by myself and losing out on one year of development, or B) moving to Europe, cashing in on a decent to sizable contract, staying in good shape and developing against professional (albeit non-NBA) players, I would choose the latter option every time.
There is only one major negative to signing overseas: though Celtics target Gilbert Brown received an opt-out clause that will allow him to return to the United States whenever the lockout ends, agents do not foresee most teams offering a similar clause.
“It’s hard to say about that,” said E’Twaun Moore’s agent, Mark Bartlestein. “But my guess is that most of these deals will be for the entire season, without any kind of provision for leaving sooner.”
For the Celtics, though, the potential rookie departure could prove troublesome. No, Doc Rivers does not envision needing to rely on the two former Boilermakers. But the Celtics currently have only six players under contract—and that includes Avery Bradley (who hardly inspired confidence that he can contribute) and Jermaine O’Neal (who will probably miss at least half the games played next season, you know, if there are any games played next season). The Celtics currently have one center, the aforementioned, injury-prone O’Neal, meaning they could use Johnson’s size. They also currently have only one bench player, meaning they could use Moore for wing depth, at the very least. If those two players go, the Celtics will have to remake their entire bench and sign at least six free agents whenever the lockout ends—they’ll have to do all that without any cap space, and quite possibly without any salary cap exceptions like the mid-level exception. As I said, troublesome.
So for selfish reasons, I advocate the rookies staying in the United States. But if I were them, un-bound by any contract, no true loyalty to any team, I would go play basketball wherever I could get paid.