To the surprise of precisely no one, Billy Hunter and the rest of the NBA Players Union are in favor of guys maximizing their earning potential by exploring all options during the lockout.
In a letter to the players he represents, Hunter encouraged them to seriously consider offers from teams abroad while there’s a work stoppage in the NBA (for instance, he’s a big fan of Deron Williams’ decision to play in Turkey.)
The NY Times reports:
In a letter sent to 450 players this week, Billy Hunter, the executive director of the National Basketball Players Association, said that playing abroad would keep the pressure on owners while allowing union members to continue making a living.
“This lockout is intended to economically pressure our players to agree to an unfavorable collective bargaining agreement,” Hunter said in the letter. “It is important for owners to understand that there may be significant consequences to their decision to put their own players in these difficult economic circumstances.” Hunter said, “If the owners will not give our players a forum in which to play basketball here in the United States, they risk losing the greatest players in the world to the international basketball federations that are more than willing to employ them.”
For NBA team owners, the biggest problem with players heading overseas to play are the injury risks. But it’s a double-edge sword: if a player gets hurt playing in another league, his NBA deal could be voided.
Even though there are well-founded concerns about some overseas teams not paying players on time, Billy Hunter knows the temporary player relocation overseas are his greatest bargaining chip against the owners. And he’ll milk it for all it’s worth.