With no resolution to the lockout in sight and litigation threatening to derail any progress made during negotiations in New York, more and more unemployed players are now seriously considering playing overseas. Here’s a quick round-up of what’s going on out there:
Various sources are reporting that restricted free agent Aaron Brooks has signed on with the Guangdong Southern Tigers of the Chinese Basketball Association (try and say that three times fast). This is shrewd move, much like Omri Casspi’s move to Israel, in that Brooks has become a fan favorite in China due to his playing days with Yao Ming with the Houston Rockets and already has plenty of sponsors lined up there as a result of it. He joins a fourth of the Denver Nuggets roster as well as Luther Head and Yi “The Chairman” Jianlian to make the move to China.
“I just want to play basketball,” Brooks told HOOPSWORLD in a phone interview. “I don’t know what the NBA is going to do so this is a good opportunity for me to go over there and keep playing.”
In recent months, Brooks has had conversations with several Chinese teams, but ultimately decided that Guangdong was the best fit for him. He’ll be playing alongside fellow free agent Yi Jianlian as well as former NBA players Lester Hudson and Fred Jones.
“They’re a good team, very professional, and I’m looking forward to playing with Yi,” Brooks said. “This is the best way for me to keep playing, stay in shape and get better.”
Chicago Bulls forward and British national Luol Deng is also mulling over several offers in Europe, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Deng, who has been receiving offers for weeks to play overseas, is seriously considering four to five offers and could make a decision as early as next week, according to his Chicago-based agent Herb Rudoy. Any offer Deng signed would contain an opt-out clause should the NBA lockout end to salvage a shortened season, Rudoy said.
Also in the same article, Deng’s teammate with the Bulls, Joakim Noah, wouldn’t mind playing in Europe but he’s not considering it an option until there’s news that the NBA season will be completely cancelled, according to the French sports daily L’Equipe. The 26-year-old, 6-11 big man holds American, French and Swedish citizenship.
“In my mind, it is out of the question that I come and just play a few matches,” Noah told the newspaper. “If I come, it’s for the whole year.”
The AFP reportsthat NBA Finals MVP Dirk Nowitzki is now keeping his options open and will not rule out entertaining offers to return to Europe, in Germany or elsewhere in the continent.
“We have to keep all options open and keep an eye on what’s happening abroad,” Nowitzki said at the end of October.
“If the lock-out continues, it is something I will really have to think about.”
His trainer has got the Mavericks forward back out on the floor and ready to resume training after a long NBA season and the EuroBasket 2011 tournament in a failed bid to qualify for the Summer Olympics next year.
“This week we are going back to work, Dirk has not touched the ball since the European Championship at the end of September,” declared Nowitzki’s personal coach Holger Geschwindner, who also said the player was “ruling nothing out, even if he has no concrete ideas” about a switch to Europe.
“At the moment, Dirk is out of shape. We are going to work hard over the nex two weeks,” added Geschwindner.
“If he goes anywhere, he will be going there for the whole season.”
Rockets forward Luis Scola will likely be packing his bagsfor Caja Laboral if the NBA season is cancelled. Real Madrid wants Dwight Howard, good luck with that, but would certainly settle for LaMarcus Aldridge. Spurs big man Tiago Splitter will be joining Valencia in Spain shortly. Pau and Marc Gasol should there be no NBA.
Finally, Hoophype.com is reporting that Warriors guard Jeremy Lin will also head overseas shortly.
Lin is in the final stages of a deal in Europe, one source told HoopsHype. Lin will make his pick between two teams and the contract will include an NBA out, according to the source.
The 6-foot-3 guard, who’s the first American player of Chinese descent in the league, averaged 2.6 ppg and 1.4 apg in his rookie year with Golden State.