The International Basketball Federation, also known as FIBA, announced Friday that NBA players currently "under contract" with NBA teams will be allowed to play internationally, with the caveat that they return to the NBA once the lockout ends.
"If an NBA player requests to play for a club of a FIBA-affiliated league, the NBA will not object but will state that the player will have to return to his NBA team as soon as the lockout ends. Consequently, FIBA will deliver a letter of clearance subject to the receipt of a declaration signed by the player, stating that he will return to his NBA team when the lockout is over."
While it's obvious that FIBA would welcome NBA-level talent, it is interesting that FIBA is co-operating with a league that can't fix its own problems. This co-operation with the NBA may open the gates for more players to feel comfortable playing overseas. Any leverage that the Player's Association may have gained by having NBA talent go overseas, though, has been lessened by the contractual obligation to return to the NBA. The chance of injury while playing abroad, though perhaps significant, can easily be equated in the owner's minds to the chances of a player injuring themselves in the States playing pick-up basketball or soccer.
Even though it's a good welcoming sentiment for NBA players thinking about playing abroad, it isn't going to help their cause in the lockout battle.
In a press conference hosted by his sponsor, sportswear brand Luyou, Steve Nash stated unequivocally that he won't play in China during the NBA lockout, saying he wants to stay close to his children rather than play in the Chinese Basketball Association, according to China Daily. "Like I said before, if I did not have three children to take care of I would like to come and play in the CBA," Nash told Chinese media in Shanghai Monday.
Nash went on to pay compliments to Yao Ming's charity work as well as Yao's work on the court, and then announced that he thinks it's unlikely he'll change teams in his quest for the so far elusive championship ring.
"Every player wants the ring. We were very close to it many times. Changing teams may be a way. But I don't think I will join another team; I prefer to stay in Phoenix. Hopefully, we can go further next season," said Nash.
I'm sure the "should we trade Nash?" talk won't end with this, but Nash's repeated public expressions of desire to stay in Phoenix, coupled with Suns President Lon Babby referring to him as the "sun, moon and stars of this franchise" makes it highly unlikely Steve Nash ends his career in any uniform other than a purple and orange Phoenix Suns jersey. I like to take balanced views of things, to see issues rationally and practically, with all their associated complexity and nuance. But, in this case? Nope. I want Steve Nash to play for the Suns for as long as possible, and that's all there is to it.
Since joining the Phoenix Suns in a last-minute deal with the Houston Rockets to beat the NBA's trade deadline last season, Aaron Brooks has been an enigma of sorts. At times he has shown flashes of still being the same lightning-quick slasher and deadly three-point shooter that earned him a reputation of being one of the young, up-and coming point guards in the 2009/10 season.
However, at times he has also been the inefficient and hotheaded player that quickly fell out of favor with the Rockets less than a year later. Brooks is now a restricted free-agent this summer after Phoenix extended him a qualifying offer of three-million dollars shortly before the lockout began. This ensures Phoenix will have the option to either match any offers Brooks receives from other teams when free-agency resumes, or allow him to leave if they choose.
Paola Boivin of the Arizona Republic recently wrote an article about Brooks after catching up with him at Seattle's H206 Charity Basketball Classic. When asked about the possibility of a future with the Phoenix Suns, Brooks answered, " I love Phoenix. I think they like me, too. They picked up my qualifying offer, didn't they?". He also went on to say that, "Despite how things went, I think Phoenix is a good place for me...The players, management, fans; everything about the team I liked. That's not something you always find".
Brooks believes that many of his struggles last season in Phoenix were due to changing teams mid-season and trying to learn the offense. He seems to believe he can be much more successful with the Suns if given the chance to go through training camp and mesh with the other players.
The comparisons between the stories of Aaron Brooks and Goran Dragic, who Brooks was traded for, are eerily similar. Both Brooks and Dragic had high expectations going into the 2010/11 season after having very successful seasons in 2009/10.
Once hailed as the future of the Phoenix Suns after a breakout season in 2009/10, Goran Dragic seemed to regress in the 2010/11 season and failed to lead the second unit with much success. This lead the Suns' front office to make a change and bring in Brooks instead who also had a disappointing start to the season in Houston after losing his starting job to Kyle Lowry.
The Suns likely believed that Brooks had a better chance of recapturing his success since he had already shown that he could be a successful starting point guard in the league. But after a lackluster performance to close out last season, will Brooks be given another shot to prove that he's the right player for the job?