Lockout drives many NBA players overseas


By Jessica Camerato
CSNNE.comFollow @JCameratoNBA
BOSTON -- The NBA lockout was still weeks away when Nenad Krstic took next season into his own hands. Rather than wait to see what happened at 12:01am on July 1, Krstic signed a two-year, 9.8 million deal with CSKA Moscow in early June, securing his opportunity to play basketball while the future of the 2011-12 NBA season is in question.

As Krstic told the Boston Herald from his home in Serbia, he is happy with his decision to play overseas. Its not about the money for the former Boston Celtics centerhe will earn less next season in Russia than he did last season in the NBA. With the lockout underway, Krstic has peace of mind that he has a place to play basketball.

I dont think you will see a lot coming here, Krstic told the Herald. Europe is not in a great situation financially. There are only four or five teams now that can offer much to NBA players, and those teams right now are almost full. Thats a problem for NBA players, I think. It was a reason why I had to go right away. I got maybe the best contract in Europe because of that.

It is too early to tell how many players will make the same move as Krstic and sign with an international team. Agent Mark Bartelstein told the Washington Post he thinks an athletes decision to play in another country would depend on his individual circumstances.

I think it depends on the player, what his salary range is, Bartelstein told the Post. There certainly will be a lot of players who might be a borderline NBA player that might not wait out the NBA and go to Europe. It depends on the opportunity that happens.

What is certain, though, is more and more rumors and speculation of players going overseas will emerge during the lockout. Here are just a few names being mentioned already:

Former Celtic (Connecticut Sun television analystrecent Comcast SportsNet New England co-host) Brian Scalabrine has been open to the possibility of playing in Europe since before the lockout. Last season he said he would go overseas if he did not get signed by an NBA team for the 2010-11 season. After playing a year with the Chicago Bulls, he is still open to the option. He told the Chicago Tribune, For me personally, if in the next 15 days its still kind of like it is now, Im just going to Europe and play.

On Friday the Los Angeles Times reported on early discussions of Kobe Bryant traveling to China to participate in a basketball tour with other NBA players: There are preliminary talks about a basketball tour to China this summerand perhaps beyondin which the Lakers superstar, who has called China a home away from home and has an enormous following there, would be the headliner with several other NBA stars forming two or three barnstorming teams. Bryant and his agent Rob Pelinka are trying to put together the tour, said Minnesota Timberwolves rookie forward Derrick Williams, who also is represented by Pelinka.

If Bryants teammate, Pau Gasol, were to play overseas, he would prefer to play in
his native Spain, but is also open to other options. According to an AP report: Gasol says if there is a lockout, Spain would be the first choiceI wouldn't say only one, but the first on Friday. China, he adds, has great potential as an alternative to Spain.

Vladimir Radmanovic, who has played for five teams in 10 seasons, would consider staying put in Europe, according to the San Francisco Chronicle: He said he'll stay
overseas, if he starts playing in the Basketball League of Serbia. I was never playing for one last (NBA) contract, Radmanovic said. Let them argue. I might be over here, playing basketball.

According to HoopsHype.com, former Celtics second-round draft pick and Lithuania native Darius Songalia is close to an agreement to play for Lietuvos Rytas in his home country.

Jessica Camerato is on Twitter at http:twitter.com!JCameratoNBA

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