Basketball’s Euroleague doesn’t think it’s clubs will be signing any players who are currently under contract to NBA teams. The league’s president Jordi Bertomeu said the European teams need to have stable rosters and know how long their players will be staying for. They don’t want to sign guys for just a couple of months who will be taking off back to America as soon as the lockout is over.

Even though you may have never heard of the Euroleague its actually the second best-paid basketball league in the world behind the NBA. Some of the most successful teams are Panathinaikos of Greece, Maccabi Tel Aviv of Israel, Real Madrid and FC Barcelona of Spain, Montepaschi Siena of Italy, and CSKA Moscow of Russia.

Because these teams pay pretty decent salaries a lot of NBA stars figured they could play for them and recoup some of their losses. But it seems the Euroleague clubs don’t really need to inject their game with them as their league is doing fine just the way it is.

A recent ruling by FIBA, the governing body for basketball, said players would be able to leave their European teams and head back to the U.S. as soon as the NBA starts up. But European teams aren’t high on the idea of losing players halfway through the season.

Bertomeu said that FIBA’s ruling was odd, because and he believes the organization struck up a deal with the NBA before announcing it on July 29, which was about a month after the NBA locked its players out. Bertomeu said the Euroleague asked FIBA what the rules were and they should have announced them right after the lockout started, not waited a month and then coming out with them.

The NBA denies striking a deal with FIBA though and said the David Stern, the league’s commissioner, said that NBA players are free to play wherever they want when locked out. The ruling seems to make sense though as things could get messy if NBA players were still in Europe when the lockout ends and could lead to potential lawsuits. Bertomeu was adamant that FIBA made a deal with the NBA.

Bertomeu said that Euroleague teams would be interested in free agents from the NBA if they can commit to playing the full season with them. So far, Maccabi has signed Nets guard Jordan Farmar because they feel if he suddenly leaves they won’t be affected too much and Besiktas made a deal with Nets guard Deron Williams. Besiktas, based in Istanbul, Turkey, was also interested in Kobe Bryant and Allen Iverson played there for a brief spell last season. However, the team doesn’t belong to the Euroleague, it’s a second-tier franchise.

Because the Euroleague is cool to the idea of signing players, some of them are considering playing in China during the lockout. However, the Chinese League isn’t as competitive as Europe and doesn’t pay anywhere near the same salaries. The European clubs are often associated with huge, money-making soccer clubs and have pretty big budgets.

Bertomeu feels his Euroleague will ultimately benefit from the NBA lockout even if it doesn’t sign many players simply because all basketball eyes will be focused on Europe. He said the league wants to broaden its European market and make American fans aware of its presence.


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