The prospect of NBA players currently under contract to teams in the Association playing elsewhere during an extended works-stoppage, may soon become an issue that could change the dynamics of negotiations as the NBA Players Association and Team Owners attempt to come up with a new NBA Collective Bargaining Agreement. Published reports state that New Jersey Nets point guard Deron Williams has reached an agreement in principle to play for Turkish team Besiktas if the Lockout carries on through the start of the regular season. There are also reports that Atlanta Hawks center Zaza Pachulia may play for the club, and that the team’s head coach wants to sit down with Los Angeles Lakers All-Star guard Kobe Bryant , to see if he would have any interest in joining his squad.
The problem with that situation is that the Association will do everything in its power to keep any of their players currently under contract from playing for any other team, no matter how long the work-stoppage goes on. So, if the reports are true and Williams has reached an agreement with the team from Turkey, he might have quite a fight on his hands before he gets top lace up his sneakers for Besiktas.
If we allow the scenario to play out, the most likely outcome would be that the situation would ultimately be resolved before a judge, and could be a very important test case for the NBA Players Association as well as the 30 Team Owners. Would the courts rule that the Association has the right to bar its players from playing elsewhere, even though they are not receiving a paycheck while the Lockout is in effect?
Were the courts to rule in favor of the players, it could radically change the complexion of the negotiations to ratify a new NBA Collective Bargaining Agreement. The Owners of NBA teams would no longer have the advantage in a waiting game, as the players would earn enough money to be comfortable as long as the work-stoppage remains in effect. The other issue that Owners would have to deal with is the risk of their players being injured playing for another team.
Both those factors could possibly change the tone of the bargaining sessions and may be enough incentive for the Owners to give on some issues that they know the Players Association will not agree to. Players from the Association being allowed to play elsewhere during an extended work-stoppage could level the playing field and ultimately result in a speedier resolution to getting the NBA season back in track.