Jump Ship to Overseas: Getting it While it’s Good
The NBA is truly global, but probably not the way David Stern wants it. For decades, we have been arrogant pricks plucking away international stars without replenishing the forest. Well, the tables have turned. Europe is slowly taking some players back and adding more to their stable. Brandon Jennings has probably left a potential NBA career altogether, Atlanta lost Josh Childress without getting anything back, and Bostjan Nachbar got a “once in a lifetime deal.”
What’s stopping them from taking the top RFAs of this offseason? The GMs can only match offers made from opposing NBA teams, but not international teams. These restricted free agents are waiting in vain for an offer from owners and general managers who are bit hesitant on giving them something “fair.” The player often feels disrespected, while at the same time, their agents and friends are driving up his ego. Not only that, but player might feel alienated from the team so trying to get common ground is a difficult process during this time, which is evident in Josh Smith, Emeka Okafor, Andre Iguodala, Luol Deng, and Ben Gordon current negotiations.
I don’t understand why some suits play this waiting game. Is it just one huge bluff game or to see what the rest of the market dictates? Some fans, who are mind numbingly pro-management, do not want to overpay for said player. Fair enough. Yet consider this; while GMs and some owners wait for the market to open in the morning, the early birds are already at work getting the worm during the night. The Euro teams will make rich offers like what they did with Josh Childress. He’s getting a starting role and more money than the Hawks can offer. He also reportedly received a huge crib to stay in to boot. Why would anyone turn down that? I’m not sure if owners are aware that the US dollar is weakening with each day that passes by compared to the Euro. So what are we waiting for? To see what happens?
Oh I’ll tell you what happens. It’s not tough to foresee. These guys will snatch up more quality players that anyone would want on a NBA championship caliber squad. Hell they already took a promising prospect in Jennings. They can take more young players like him coming out of high school. And more players will make the jump because they need the money now. In the near future no one should be shocked if a known star takes off; not some over-the-hill star, but a player who currently is killing it in the NBA. The League finally got its competition much like how Vince McMahon’s WWE rivaled against Ted Turner’s WCW during the 90s.
Not only are they grabbing proven players, but they’re also ripping out talent from the grass roots. I can’t blame them for taking the money and relocating to a place with a better economy. That’s reality. Their schedule is probably not as rigorous as an NBA 82 game schedule, which does not include preseason and playoffs. Most importantly, and this is the most significant to consider for any player, they do not have to pay taxes. Pretty much all of the money goes to them. Uncle Sam is not digging in their pockets for half. What’s stopping them from trying to pry away Lebron James, Dwayne Wade, or Chris Bosh in the mythical free agent class of 2010 and beyond? Worst case scenario is all of them leave.
Let’s go further down the rabbit hole. Picture a kid coming out with as much hype and talent as Lebron out of high school…if I was a filthy rich owner of some Euro ballclub, I would offer the kid 4 years $55 million plus a huge house and a brand new ride. If he has second thoughts, I’ll just remind him, “Oh all that money is yours. No US taxes and you get to mingle with super model women.” That kid will take the deal along with the other prospects I will take.
Imagine a kid completing one year of college such as Derrick Rose or Greg Oden. You can say they’re somewhat proven with plenty of potential and worthy of being the number one pick. A month before the NBA Draft, a Euro owner snatch them up to lucrative deals. Picture many international owners going after the majority of players projected in the top 10 of any draft. Euro owners do not play by any rules because it doesn’t apply to them. So now the NBA is hurt and the college game is affected, too.
What can the US do to stop this from happening? They can take the easy route and do nothing. If they plan to remedy this, it has to be a step-by-step process. There’s no easy way. What can they say to a kid, fresh out of high school, in need of money for his family? “Oh no son. You can’t sign with them because they’re supposedly Communists. Come play a year in college without getting paid. If you do get paid, you’ll get punished.” We’re probably worse because we’re Capitalists. The extra loot is spread among the big wigs while the kids do not get jack in return for their production. Exploitation I say. Communists don’t sound too bad in comparison.
Exploiting? How can that be you say? People will claim that these kids are getting full paid scholarships. That’s true, but how does that really help them? Ask OJ Mayo. Ask Chris Webber. In fact, ask any of the current players. All these kids can get the same type of education at any junior college or second tier university. They don’t have to go to a major league school.
The commissioner, the owners, and the players union need to get together to figure out on how to improve the bidding war process for restricted free agents. These guys shouldn’t have to wait long for a contract extension or an offer. Or just don’t do anything to fix it. This game has gone through enough kick to the balls and it’s still here alive and well. Fans are sheep and they’ll pay to see any remnant of pro basketball. They’ll even pay for tickets to be there just to protest with signs or paper bags over their heads. Yes, you’re sheep. Deal.
Here’s how I would limit international participation (if Stern even cared): Just place another provision to “restricted free agent” status. No RFA can negotiate with international teams. Simple. This provision would be already written in contracts when drafted rookies sign their deals. The players union would have to agree to this provision in the near future to have it automatically placed in rookie contracts by default. This is going to be tough to add because the players union is pro-money. Convince them. Why should they turn down a great offer from a Euro team before the draft or when players reach any type of free agency? Try answering that one. What are you going to say? “Do it for your country.” Please. This is about money especially with the US dollar being weak. Players Union will say, “Make it optional instead.” Please remember that the NBA does not want that since they’re trying to save their game. The goal is to keep as many players as they can in the league.
What about unrestricted free agents? Oh that’s too bad. They can sign with anyone they want because they play with no restrictions hence “unrestricted.” Sorry. Deal with it.
What about kids coming out of college especially the ones who are projected to be a top 10 talent? Sign the rookie contract with the new provision. If not, too bad. They’ll go international. Deal.
What about kids coming out of high school? I don’t think there are solutions to that unless they signed a letter of intent. I would definitely forego college if I was offered a multi-year multimillion dollar deal that’s superior to no money in college and a contract that’s based on a rookie pay scale. I would be getting ridiculous amount of stacks fresh out of high school to help me and my family immediately. Deal.
One day I’d love to see the champs of the NBA take on the champions of Euro league made up of some of the best talents who left the States to battle for the championship of the world. Then that team can truly declare that they are the world champions.