|Would locked out Celtics consider signing overseas?||07.08.11 at 5:16 pm ET|
Almost 50 years after The Beatles led The British Invasion of rock bands into the popular culture in the United States, none of the self-proclaimed Heatles have committed to participate in what increasingly appears to be an invasion of NBA players into basketball leagues overseas.
But that’s not to say none of the NBA’s superstars aren’t (triple negative!) considering overseas options while the league’s owners have locked out the players with the absence of a collective bargaining agreement. A different wrinkle in this Eurasian Invasion pops up almost every day.
Nets point guard Deron Williams is leading the charge of superstars attempting to create leverage for the players, as he reportedly agreed in principal to a one-year, $5 million deal with Turkey-based (get it?) Besiktas should the NBA’s lockout last through the summer. Upstart Canadian National Basketball League has already extended invites to the likes of Dirk Nowitzi and LeBron James. Imports like Zaza Pachulia, Andrei Kirilenko, Marco Belinelli, Patrick Mills and Carlos Delfino are all considering returning overseas. Free agent veterans like Sonny Weems and undrafted free agents like David Lighty have already agreed to deals that will keep them in Europe even if there is a 2011-12 NBA season. And Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant has discussed the possibility of leading a group of players represented by his agent, Rob Pelinka, on an exhibition tour of China.
It’s hard to believe that Nenad Krstic started this trend, snubbing the Celtics and other free-agent center pursuers to sign with CSKA Moscow for two years and $9.8 million. With new rumors emerging every day, are the Celtics in danger of losing any other members of the 2010-11 roster overseas?
Let’s examine the potential for Celtics to explore options abroad …
- Rumor: There is no rumor. However, along with teammate Paul Pierce, Garnett was among a group of players that were the most vocal in unifying against the owners on behalf of the players’ association. While Garnett is under contract for one more season at $21.2 million with the Celtics and likely wouldn’t receive an offer that would make jeopardizing that money worthwhile, Garnett already has a deal with Chinese shoe company Anta and has a previouslyscheduled a trip to China later this summer. Any chance he could participate in an exhibition tour of the country a la Kobe Bryant?
- Odds: Slim to none.
- Rumor: While Johnson and E’Twaun Moore have been announced as Celtics after being selected in the first- and second-round of the 2011 NBA draft, respectively, both remain unsigned and therefore free to sign overseas should they receive a lucrative enough offer. In a Herald report, one of Johnson’s agents, Bill Duffy, said he is exploring “international options for all of his young players,” while another representative, Kevin Bradbury, hinted that Johnson wants to remain eligible to sign with the Celtics as soon as the NBA and players association sign a collective bargaining agreement.
- Odds: Unlikely.
- Rumor: Italian club Pallacanestro Cantu has reportedly shown serious interest in signing the free-agent point guard who joined the Celtics late last season. While Arroyo denied such rumors, he has already played professionally in Puerto Rico, Spain and — most recently — Israel, where he led Maccabi Tel Aviv to the Israeli Basketball Super League championship.
- Odds: Even
- Rumor: Like Johnson, Moore and his agent Mark Bartlestein will explore overseas options. Considering Moore’s chances of making the Celtics roster are less likely than Johnson’s, the possibility of him signing a guaranteed contract elsewhere are much higher. And Bartlestein seemed to agree, telling the Herald, “E’Twaun certainly could end up overseas, and we’re talking to teams. If we find the perfect opportunity for him, then maybe we will make that move.”
- Odds: Even.
- Rumor: While Wafer reasserted his desire to stay in Boston, the unrestricted free agent who played for Olympiacos in Greece prior to joining the Celtics this past season told HoopsWorld he’d be open to returning there: “Even before the lockout, it’s definitely something that I thought about. Now that we are in a lockout, it’s definitely an option because I can go overseas and have a larger role. It’s a way to make money and I could really be a contributor for a team.”
- Odds: Likely.
- Rumor: Pavlovic threatened to take his talents to Europe when he was actually a decent NBA player with the Cavaliers four years ago, so why wouldn’t the free-agent swingman sign overseas amid such uncertainty, especially considering the fact the Celtics inked him off the street late this past season?
- Odds: Likely.
The five players not named Garnett currently under contract with the Celtics — Pierce, Ray Allen, Rajon Rondo, Jermaine O’Neal and Avery Bradley — along with Jeff Green, who has received a $5.9 million qualifying offer from the team, are all highly unlikely to attempt a Deron Williams-like departure to Istanbul — unless J.O. is looking to expand his Le Jaunty clothing line.
The only other players of consequence are free agents Glen Davis and Delonte West — both of whom the Celtics have expressed interest in re-signing once a collective bargaining agreement is achieved and both of whom are just crazy enough to sign overseas for a year.
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