The NBA has canceled the first two weeks of the regular season, assuring that players will miss at least their first paycheck from the league. But that doesn’t mean that some superstar players won’t find other avenues to get paid.
According to sources with knowledge of the situation, the past three league’s most valuable players — LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and Derrick Rose — are scheduled to lead a group of NBA stars on a six-game international tour from Oct. 30 through Nov. 9. They are expected to make stops in San Juan, Puerto Rico; London; Macau, China; and Melbourne, Australia. ESPN.com first reported the story.
Players have been involved in charity exhibitions for the past few months, but participants in this tour will be paid anywhere from six-figures to $1 million per game, plus expenses, with some proceeds going to charity, according to reports in ESPN and Yahoo! Sports.
The tour is expected to have enough superstar player commitments to ensure two traveling teams. Other players expected to participate include all-stars Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Blake Griffin, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce, Amare Stoudemire and Russell Westbrook. Kevin Durant is a strong possibly, but has yet to sign on, according to a person close to him.
Atlanta businessman Calvin Darden is behind the tour, according to sources and it has been in the works for several weeks. Organizers decided to push through with the final plans after NBA Commissioner David Stern cancelled the first 100 regular season games because of the league’s inability to come to terms on a new collective bargaining agreement.
Players have been locked out since July 1. The work stoppage has resulted in a loss of games for the first time since 1998-99, when the NBA played a 50-game schedule. An official announcement of the all-star tour is expected to come soon, one source said, adding that contracts with players are still being finalized.
ESPN.com reported that the event hinges on whether or not the league and its players union can resolve the labor dispute this week and avoid the cancelation of more games.
“It’s just the start,” a person with knowledge of the situation said. “This crop of players … is not going to allow the owners to manhandle them. If the owners think they are going to suppress the players, they are not going to allow this work. Stuff that happened in ‘98, won’t happen this time.”