Deron Williams Says NBAers Could Stay Overseas Long-Term

As we know, Deron Williams has agreed to play ball in Turkey if the lockout stretches into the regular season. But he has an interesting take on the NBA-to-Europe migration: that if the owners get their way, some guys may stay. Via ESPN: “Though he plans to play in Turkey during the lockout, New Jersey Nets point guard Deron Williams will rejoin the NBA as soon as an agreement on a collective bargaining agreement is reached. But if the owners break the players and get the proposal they’re pushing for, Williams believes some stars could opt to play overseas long-term. ‘If the proposal (the owners) have, if that’s what they’re sticking with and that’s what they want, then I think it would be hard for a lot of guys to come back to the NBA,’ Williams said Friday in an interview at a private golf resort in San Diego. Williams said any collective bargaining agreement that would leave stars such as Kobe Bryant making only $11 million a year — the owners have proposed cutting players’ salaries by roughly a third — could open the door for an unprecedented exodus to Europe. ‘(Kobe) could go make more money overseas, I guarantee you.’ said Williams, who has a one-year, $5 million deal with Besiktas. ‘If (European teams) knew he could be there for a full season, or they knew I could be there for a full season, or they knew LeBron James could be there for a full season, they’ll pay more money, of course.’ If other stars follow Williams to Europe during the lockout, it could be a blow to the league’s owners, giving the players’ union the leverage it needs to fight off the owners’ demands. Williams said he spoke with the union before agreeing to play in Turkey to make sure he wasn’t damaging its cause. He said NBPA executive director Billy Hunter was in favor of the move. ‘I talked to Mr. Hunter and he said he supported it,’ Williams said. ‘He was happy for me. He thought I made a great decision, a business decision. He was behind me.'”