After the collective bargaining agreement between NBA players and owners expires on June 30, there may be a prolonged work stoppage — to the point where the entire 2011-12 NBA season gets cancelled. Also, rumors abound that players may want to play in Europe and elsewhere during the hiatus, along with further speculation that the NBA may try to prevent them from doing so. Even five-time NBA champ Kobe Bryant has tossed this idea around with reporters.
Is Bucks forward Ersan Ilyasova going to be the first to put the legality of leaving for Europe to the test? According to the Basketball Post
The Turkish portal milliyet.com.tr has first reported today, April the 20th, that powerhouse Fenerbahçe Ülker is inching closer to reaching an agreement with stretch-four and post defender Ersan Ilyasova in order to count with the player’s services for next season.
Ilyasova is under contract with the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks for one more season, set to earn $2.5 million dollars in salaries next year. The report doesn’t state if the agreement is tied to a lockout taking place in the Association or if Ilyasova will try to force his way out of Milwaukee regardless of the work stoppage.
Unless there is a work stoppage, getting Ilyasova under contract should require a buyout. On the other hand, if there is a lockout of any length or kind, it is hard to imagine that the NBA owners could reasonably expect to enforce ‘binding’ contracts while at the same time halting salaries and shuttering work facilities.
To make matters worse, Ersan didn’t end the season with glowing reviews about the 2010-11 season, during which he averaged 9.5 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 0.9 steals per game in 25.1 minutes of playing time. In his post-season quotes, Ilyasova noted that
We got a lot of new guys on our team. They all had to learn our system, our plays. Last year, we played more together. We shared the ball more than this year. This was one of the keys to success last year.
I didn’t get a lot of minutes that I was expecting from last year. It’s not my decision – it’s Coach’s decision, from his standpoint, how he sees the rotation.
Given those thoughts, it doesn’t seem unrealistic that Ilyasova may want to ply his trade elsewhere. Over the coming weeks, Ilyasova’s rumored deal may be the first in a long line of verbal agreements between NBA players and teams from around the globe. Don’t expect those deals to get signed, though, until an actual lockout kicks in during the month of July.