While New Jersey Nets guard Deron Williams was clearly the biggest news maker today with the report that he has a deal in place to join Turkish club Besiktas if the NBA Lockout drags out into the fall. SLAM Online also reports that Hawks center Zaza Pachulia also has a deal in place with Besiktas.
This situation has been rumored as a possibility for sometime leading up to the lockout but now it appears to be a very viable option. It isn't that surprising to see an international player like Pachulia deciding to go overseas to play but a player with the stature of Deron Williams is a completely different story and raises all sorts of questions. What happens if an NBA player that is under contract signs with an overseas club and suffers a significant injury? Would that players NBA team have the right to void his contract? It remains to be seen how the situation will play out.
Williams' announcement got me thinking today as to whether or not this was simply the first domino to fall with other big name stars following suit. SB Nation's Tom Ziller wrote an excellent article addressing that question and he remains skeptical. He points out that Williams has leverage against the Nets as they are trying to convince him to sign a long term deal and won't be in a rush to do something that would anger him.
Another point is that Williams isn't going to be making a lot of money, reportedly around $200,000 a month. A big name like Kobe Bryant isn't going to goto the trouble for that kind of money. No word on what type of money Zaza Pachulia's deal is worth.
Personally I don't think there is a risk for a lot of the NBA's biggest stars to defect to Europe. If any do, they will no doubt have a clause in their contract which will allow their return to the NBA as soon as the lockout is over. The danger comes in players who are currently free agents or lower tier players who might not be able to afford a long work stoppage the way the more wealthy players will be able to.