The head of the NBA Players Association Billy Hunter, has given total support to players from the Association playing elsewhere if the NBA Lockout extends into the regular season “ESPN.com” reported on Wednesday. Hunter sent a memo to the players stating that he is totally in favor of the members of his union playing anywhere they choose, as long as their contracts with other teams contains an out-clause that would allow them to return to the NBA once the work-stoppage has been settled. Hunter also wrote that he does not believe that the FIBA or the NBA will stand in the way of the players being employed by other teams during the duration of the Lockout. That contradicts earlier reports that Commissioner David Stern and NBA Team Owners will try their best from keeping players currently under contract from playing for other leagues.
Hunter praised New Jersey Nets guard Deron Williams, who reportedly has a deal in principle to play in Turkey if the Lockout delays the start of the campaign in the memo. The union chief wrote “I especially commend Deron Williams for the wisdom and courage he has demonstrated these past few days. Deron explored the alternatives available to him and ultimately did not hesitate to avail himself of the best option with which he was presented, signing with Turkey’s Besiktas. Following the lead of our other All-Star players who have come to the bargaining table and supported the union’s efforts since negotiations began, and the many All-Stars who have come before them that sacrificed so that we may prosper today, Deron again demonstrates that NBA players will not be intimidated by the league’s hard-line tactics.”
In order for Williams to be able to play for Besiktas, he will need a letter from the FIBA granting him permission to do so. The governing body of international basketball will not decide on William’s case until next week at the earliest according to reports. There are no guarantees that FIBA will rule in his favor; as that would open up the floodgates for players with existing contracts to play anywhere on the planet during the Lockout. If the FIBA rules against Williams, then his only alternative would be to take his case to either the National Labor Relations Board, or to a court of law in hope of reversing the ruling.
Hunter also advised any NBA player who decides to play elsewhere to make sure they are insured in case of injury. The Association would have no responsibility to provide any care for a player who gets hurt playing for a different league.