It’s no South Beach, but that didn’t stop New Jersey Nets point guard Deron Williams from taking his talents overseas to Turkey.
In a somewhat monumental decision that could become a significant turning point in player-owner negotiations, Williams has reached a deal to play in Turkey during the lockout. The move was confirmed mid-Thursday by Besiktas head coach, Ergin Ataman, via a phone interview with the New York Times.
All signs point to the agreement being signed, sealed, and made official within 24 hours. Shortly thereafter, Besiktas team president, Seref Yalcin, is expected to do a joint news conference with Williams in the U.S. at some point next week.
The 27-year-old Williams is widely regarded as a top-tier NBA player and with this move becomes the biggest star from the league to ever opt to play overseas in his prime. Besiktas, of course, famously reached a deal to host Allen Iverson a year ago. However, the relationship ended rather poorly on all sides because of the undeniable deterioration of the 36-year-old’s skills.
As it stands, Williams’ current contract with the Nets is for two years and $34 million. According to David Stern, though, that doesn’t mean that any NBA player is forbidden from going elsewhere for the duration of the lockout.
“If there’s a lockout, the players are free; their contracts are suspended,” Stern said during All-Star weekend in February. “It’s that simple.”
Still, Williams’ decision comes with a substantial risk. If the Nets point guard injures himself while playing Turkey, he risks complete nullification of his NBA contract.
Williams is expected to report to Besiktas on September 1.
If the NBA and players union reach an agreement and end the lockout before that day -- or even during the Turkish season -- Williams' contract in Turkey is nullified.