A Turkey professional basketball franchise and its coach have been so bold as to say they want to talk with Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant about coming aboard during the NBA lockout.
It seems as though Besiktas of Istanbul is dreaming if the thought it would be able to lure one of the NBA’s biggest stars, even if temporarily. Well maybe not so fast.
Sources say that Bryant just might be willing to listen to the franchise that is all but set to bring aboard New Jersey Nets All-Star point guard Deron Williams, as well as listening to any other offers from European franchises.
Besiktas, like any European franchises, just might believe they can capitalize on the NBA labor strife by offering its players a place to play and in some cases, a needed paycheck.
“If Kobe doesn’t want to miss a whole season if there’s a lockout, and likes to live in one of Europe’s greatest cities, in Istanbul, and wants to play with Deron Williams, why not?” Besiktas coach Ergin Ataman told Yahoo! Sports.
Bryant has always seemed like he would a prime candidate to one day play overseas, having spent much of his youth in Italy while his father played ball. Bryant and his 1,000-watt smile have been a major marketing hit in the European markets. And get this, Yahoo! Sports says Bryant already has an international endorsement deal with a Turkish airline, which might very well be willing to bankroll the enormous amount of money it would take lure Bryant overseas.
“We want Kobe Bryant now,” Ataman said Thursday.
Should one of the European leagues land a talent such as Bryant it could be a coup for professional basketball overseas as well as for the NBA players, who are facing the possibility of a season-long lockout if an agreement can’t be reached with the owners.
Williams and Bryant could both command big salaries and contracts that stipulate the deal is null and void once the contract ends. Interestingly, Toronto Raptors Sonny Weems signed an extension Thursday to remain in Europe for the entire season without an opt-out clause, according to the Associated Press.
With European basketball as an attractive option, this could be just the leverage the NBA players needed to convince the owners to back off some of their extreme demands when it comes to salary, revenue sharing and less giving salary cap.
But there are certainly some drawbacks to playing overseas. Teams still retain the rights of their players, but players are not under any obligation to the franchise during the lockout which means they can play elsewhere. But should they get hurt, they would be on their own and likely could have their NBA contracts voided out once the lockout ends. The frontline players also wouldn’t make the salaries they are accustomed to making in the NBA, while the lower tier players could come close, especially because they wouldn’t have to pay taxes or take care of their living expenses.
(Photo: Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)