Steve Nash, Marcin Gortat among Phoenix Suns players who may play overseas if lockout cancels games

Posted by on July 17th, 11:52 pm

Deron Williams shocked the NBA world by signing a deal to play with a Turkish basketball team this season in the event the NBA lockout wipes out a portion of the schedule.

Could several members of the Phoenix Suns follow him overseas?

Few expect a mass exodus of NBA players to Europe or Asia for the simple fact that there are just not enough teams capable of paying the kind of salary it would take to attract an NBA player, and many of them that could would likely be unwilling to allow NBA guys to leave at a moment’s notice once the lockout is lifted.

However, if the lockout continues into the season it’s likely that at least a few more name players will join Williams overseas.

That list could include the most prominent Sun himself, Steve Nash.

Nash is as worldly as a star as they come and has business interests in China, including a shoe deal with Chinese company Lu You. Culturally he would fit in anywhere, and the journey and international experience could mean more to him than a hefty paycheck. Also, he’s unlikely to be sacrificing the kind of future paydays some other stars would in case of major injury since Nash has just one year remaining on his deal and has already pocketed the bulk of the money he will make in the NBA.

“I’d love to play overseas,” Nash wrote to The Arizona Republic. “It may be difficult with three kids but I’d love to do it.”

Added Nash’s agent Bill Duffy to the paper: “He’d be ready to roll. I’ve talked to him about it in the past. He’s a worldwide traveler and maverick. He’s committed to playing for the Suns but it’s not up to him. If it looks like the season’s going to be shut down, everyone’s going to be looking for work.”

Aside from the family issues playing so far from home, I wonder if Nash would even be able to play without Aaron Nelson and the warlocks by his side. I feel like the Suns’ vaunted training staff deserves lots of credit for Nash’s longevity, and I wonder what kind of physical issues he might encounter without the warlocks while playing in a completely different environment.

It’s anybody’s guess whether Nash will pull the trigger on an overseas deal, but according to international reports Marcin Gortat will be playing in Russia next season if the lockout continues. Eurobasket has reported that Gortat has signed with the Russian club Spartak Saint Petersburg. In fact, he’s listed on Spartak’s roster along with former Suns draft pick Dijon Thompson.

Like all NBA players, Gortat would be contractually obligated to return to the States when the lockout ends. If he’s able to work on his post game against real competition, this could end up being a real boon for the Suns (so long as he doesn’t get hurt, of course).

Then there’s Mickael Pietrus. His agent recently told The Republic that MP has an offer from a Turkish pro team and he’s still contemplating his options. If the money is right and he’s healthy, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him take it.

If any NBA player understands the risks of playing overseas, it would have to be the man who went abroad during a time of labor peace, Josh Childress.

After his experience playing two seasons for Olympiakos in Greece, Childress told ESPN’s Ric Bucher he would not consider returning to Europe.

“No, I wouldn’t,” he said. “And I don’t know why guys would. I understand that guys really want to play. But you sometimes have to look at what you have and treat this as a business. The only way I could see it making sense is if you’re a player from a particular country going back. But for an American player with a good-sized guaranteed deal here, I can’t see why you’d do it.”

It’s likely most of Childress’ American teammates (and American leaguemates) heed his advice, and besides there are only so many spots available for players that are not natives on international teams.

However, there’s one more Phoenix Sun that could be a candidate to play overseas and that’s Vince Carter. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him find an international home even if the players and owners agree to labor peace.

Michael Schwartz founded ValleyoftheSuns in October 2008 and is the owner/editor emeritus of the site. He is currently working toward his MBA in sports business at San Diego State University.

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Tags: Marcin Gortat · Phoenix Suns · Phoenix Suns News · Steve Nash

7 responses so far ↓

  • 1 GoSuns // Jul 18, 2011 at 9:12 pm

    I agree, I definitely think Vince would consider an overseas gig, because I don’t think his movtivation is winning a championship in the NBA. I also hope that Gortat takes advantage of his opportunity over there but hopefully he doesn’t get hurt. Really thought I so hope we won’t have a lockout cause college ball just doesn’t cut it and the nba is my favorite sports league to watch

  • 2 Roger // Jul 18, 2011 at 9:36 pm

    Michael…If NBA players are willing to play for a lot less (in most cases less than 50% of their current salary) than what they were making in US, why are they not willing to take less under the new CBA or at least compromise for say 50-50 revenue split to get this deal done?

  • 3 Steve // Jul 18, 2011 at 10:34 pm

    @Roger- I know you already know the answer to this, but g-r-e-e-d.

    They know there is more money to be had here than there, and the only way to get it out of the owners is to pressure them.

  • 4 Michael Schwartz // Jul 18, 2011 at 11:39 pm

    Yeah, obviously the G word has a lot to do with it. Also, like Childress was saying, most NBA players aren’t willing to make so much less and a guy like Williams is only willing to do it because it’s his only alternative if he wants to make money playing basketball during the lockout. There’s no way he would ever leave the States as a free agent to sign that same deal. No matter how big the pie is, if you can get more of it you always want more. It’s human nature, and I’m most definitely describing both sides in this dispute (as well as both sides in the NFL dispute).I’m sure both sides will dance around for a few months before getting down to business.

  • 5 Roger // Jul 19, 2011 at 4:05 pm

    I agree with Steve that playing or the perception of playing overseas is a tactical move for better or faster settlement in their negotiation. I also read Billy Hunter is arranging for insurance or making noise about insurance so I guess it’s their way of pressing the owners. Without the players insurance, Stern can easily sense the bluff.

  • 6 Zak // Jul 19, 2011 at 6:04 pm

    It all boils down to greed in the end. And I really don’t mean that in a bad way. The NBA is a business. The owners and the players both want to make as much money as possible. But the owners have the upper hand because, while the lockout lasts, they’re saving money while the players are loosing money.

    I’m wondering if guaranteed contracts will still be guaranteed if players get injured while playing overseas?

  • 7 Michael Schwartz // Jul 19, 2011 at 10:22 pm

    I don’t believe they are. There are certain covered activities in NBA contracts, but “going overseas to play during a lockout” most certainly isn’t in there. That’s why guys like D-Will are taking such a major risk in case they do get seriously injured.

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