ESPN confirmed a report Thursday from Turkish sports outlet NTV Spor that the New Jersey Nets guard is planning on playing for Besiktas in the fall should the NBA lockout fail to be settled in time for the start of the 2011-2012 season.
For those who don’t remember, Besiktas was the Turskish club that signed Allen Iverson briefly last season. Williams reportedly has reached an agreement with the Turkish club which includes the option to immediately return to the NBA should a new collective bargaining agreement be reached. NTV Spor also reported that Atlanta Hawks center Zaza Pachulia will also join Besiktas should the lockout persist.
NBA players under contract usually are expected to get a letter of clearance from the FIBA, the world’s governing basketball body. However given the work stoppage a source within the NBA Players Association told ESPN they will fight any attempt to limit players going abroad during the lockout.
But could this be the start of a trend? If NBA players can latch on abroad and still earn hefty paychecks while the league battles over a new collective bargaining agreement, Williams’ idea could spread like wildfire. Paid vacation to play ball in Europe? You’d think more than a few NBA stars would jump on board that wagon.
Williams still has two years left on his contract with the New Jersey Nets, worth somewhere around $18 million, but that money would not be guaranteed if he injured himself while playing abroad. Given that Williams is still recovering from wrist surgery and is on the cusp of free agency once again, the risks of playing abroad may prove too high.