As the NBA lockout begins its fourth week, additional players with higher profiles are flirting with the idea of spending next season off American soil.
The league has already released its schedule for next season with opening night on Nov. 1 as Chicago faces defending champion Dallas.
Only instead of the Mavericks unveiling a championship banner to hang it the rafters, Dirk Nowitzki and his teammates may be playing thousands of miles away from Texas.
For Nowitzki and the other foreign born players, suiting up for clubs overseas may not be a big deal.
Without any action on the court this season, a prominent American player has already decided to play in Europe.
All-Star point guard Deron Williams signed a one-year deal with Turkish club Besiktas. The same team is set to meet with Kobe Bryant next month, hoping to land the star that received the most votes for the 2011 All-Star Game.
Bryant’s father played professionally in Italy for seven years and is fluent in Italian and Spanish. Years before the lockout, Bryant even mentioned he would play in Italy, only for an exorbitant amount of money.
Two years ago, star players fleeing the NBA for more lucrative contracts overseas seemed like a real possibility. Greek club Olympiakos agreed to a three-year $20 million guaranteed contract with Atlanta forward Josh Childress.
The sixth overall pick of the 2004 NBA Draft was a bust, as Childress never averaged more than 13 points during his career. Instead of rejoining the Hawks, he left for Greece.
Grown accustomed to the luxuries of the NBA, playing in Europe consisted of seven-hour bus rides, commercial airline flights, crummy hotels and a completely different playing schedule.
European teams only play twice a week and even though Childress’ contract was guaranteed, he still had to fight for his money.
Returning to the NBA last season, with the Phoenix Suns, Childress isn’t among the players considering playing overseas even if the lockout is prolonged.
The departure of Childress to Greece was supposed to open the door to other clubs landing prominent NBA players.
No other player willingly left the NBA to pursue an opportunity overseas since Olympiakos landed Childress.
Besiktas was able to land Williams only because his salary will be paid through sponsors and his contract has an opt-out clause once the lockout is resolved.
For the team to sustain enough payroll to employ Williams and Bryant, more advertising dollars are necessary, but the slumping economy worldwide makes it unlikely enough money will be raised to land multiple stars on the Besiktas roster.
Even with all of the negatives in playing overseas, NBA stars remain interested in an opportunity to play next season.
Since the selection of Yao Ming in the 2002 NBA Draft, basketball’s popularity in the Far East has grown exponentially.
Last summer, Howard spent time in India, opened NBA stores in the second most populous country in the world and trained with the country’s national team.
Professional players in China make significantly less money than European club teams, so the notion of NBA players playing for an extended period of time in China is highly unlikely.
The lockout is happening as a result of the players union refusing to allow a hard cap to be imposed in the NBA, a move that would significantly reduce salaries.
Most players would make less overseas and are risking serious injury that could prevent them from commanding high salaries in the NBA.
Most players aren’t interested in playing in Toronto in the NBA, so the likelihood of a mass exodus to Europe and Asia isn’t a realistic option.