By Jonathan Ryan Davis
Three Blazers: John Diebler (Greece), Patty Mills (Turkey), and Nicolas Batum (France). Two foreign players and an American. One collective decision to work on their games oversees during the NBA lockout.
After failed talks a week ago between the NBPA and owners, most NBA fans and players are starting to realize the 2011-12 NBA season is in serious jeopardy. As a result, more NBA players are considering signing contracts with foreign teams to augment their income, feed their competitive needs, and work on their game. This is true of the Blazers players as well. So far, three players have decided to sign contracts with European teams, but odds are, the longer the lockout lasts, the more players will sign abroad.
Of the three Blazers who have signed in Europe, only Batum is a solidified rotation player. Diebler was expected to spend the year in Europe irrespective of the lockout to work on becoming a more “NBA ready” player and Patty Mills was extended a qualifying offer, which is not a guaranteed contract.
My guess is more Portland non-rotation players will start to sign abroad to refine their games in order to return to the NBA ready to compete for playing time. Though, the more intriguing question is: will more rotation players sign oversees if the 2011-12 season is cancelled?
Playing in a different style game might be exactly what the Blazers starters need. LaMarcus can learn to be the most physical player on the court in Europe. Wesley Matthews can learn how to play more under control. Raymond Felton can learn how to run a non-pick and roll offense. Gerald Wallace can learn how to hit a more consistent outside jumper. Greg Oden can learn how to play competitive basketball again.
It could be very interesting…
Let us know what you think.