Deron Williams, Hero

Nets guard might play in Turkey if lockout lingers.

When news broke earlier this week that Deron Williams had agreed in principle to play for a Turkish team this fall if the NBA owners persist in locking out the players, it seemed kinda funny.

Besiktas, the team Williams would join, is the same team that employed Allen Iverson last season, which is to say that players making the choice to go to Europe tend to do so because they have no other options.

And then, as Stephon Marbury would be the first to tell you, it is on to China.

A little time passed, though, and Williams' move started to seem a more genius than amusing. Fans worried about missing out on basketball because of the lockout should probably feel the same way.

Williams's choice to play in Turkey is one that will almost certainly be followed by other players looking to continue earning money while the owners play hardball with the next labor deal.

The owners have no better leverage than lost wages to hold against the players, so the fact that there are other options should have a real effect on moving a negotiation along faster than it would if players were sitting at home without other options.

On top of that, the players actually gain some leverage on the owners because teams can't feel all that secure about getting their players back in one piece if they go play overseas.

Players can get insurance to cover themselves in the event of injury and teams won't have to pay their salaries, but that seems like very little in the face of the humiliating team Mikhail Prokhorov will field without Williams running the show.

Good luck selling the Nets to free agents and selling tickets to a new arena if that happens. And good luck signing Williams to the extension that they desperately need him to sign if you do anything other than pat him on the back and wish him good luck during his Turkish holiday.

Any player that signs to play in Europe will only be doing so until the lockout ends. FIBA, the global basketball governing body, makes sure of that, so the players have almost zero downside other than an injury that could happen just as easily on a NBA court than on one in Barcelona or Milan.

As football has taught us this year, there's no urgency to settle any of the labor issues until time forces everyone's hands. Williams's move jumps the clock forward for the owners and that's good for everyone who wants to see basketball as usual this season.

Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter and he is also a contributor to Pro Football Talk.

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