Jul
30

Agents Using Overseas Option As Leverage

Honestly, agents would be silly if they did not use this opportunity that has presented itself to inflate their clients’ salary figures.  When Josh Childress, a restricted free agent unhappy with his role with the Hawks receives an offer that is higher than what any NBA team was offering him and will additionally allow him to play more minutes, why wouldn’t he jump ship and travel to Greece?  He is young, enjoys traveling, and is hungry for more money.  I would bet that he is not the only NBA player who displays those three traits.  Borderline NBA starters seem like the guys who are most likely to travel abroad with the Euro being as strong as it is compared to the dollar.  In the past, I suggested that along with Childress, a guy like Ben Gordon would be a perfect fit overseas.  He has the talent to be a starter, but the Bulls have not given him a chance to shine.

Delonte WestThe NBA is scared.  There is nothing to make league executives think that Childress is a rare blip on the radar.  Thus, I was not surprised to hear that agents are now using that fear to their clients’ advantage.  Delonte West, represented by Noah Croom of Goodwin Sports Management, has made some headlines recently as potentially being the next fringe player to leave his NBA team for a more lucrative offer overseas.  In this case, Croom has suggested that Dynamo Moscow is interested in offering West a two-year deal worth about $10 million.  If true, the offer would seem to be more favorable than the $2.76 million qualifying offer that West would likely receive from the Cavs for a year.  West and Croom cannot be too happy about such a small monetary figure when his teammate, Daniel Gibson, is receiving $21 million over 5-years.

There really is nothing wrong with Croom trying to look elsewhere to drive up the price of his client.  We do it all the time by leveraging teams in the same league against each other.  In fact, in the early 1970s, agents drove up prices by pitting the NBA against the ABA.  Now, there is a new option: putting in an NBA executive’s mind that one of his prized players is thinking about traveling across the Atlantic Ocean.  Assistant Coach Manos Manouselis of Olympiacos (the team that recently signed Childress) recently expressed his feelings toward American agents using the potential of playing overseas as a negotiation tactic.

Our goal is not to be a factor in driving up prices in the NBA market, but rather to target players who we believe will help us win the Greek Cup, Euroleague and Greek League…We had many NBA officials that were more than generous with their time talking to us at the Summer League, and we would be more than willing to reciprocate with them in regard to any potentially false rumors associated with our club. We would like to maintain an excellent relationship with the entire NBA, because in the end we are all looking to promote the game of basketball.

With all of this camaraderie, maybe there is hope for a European division of the NBA eventually.  I highly doubt it, but just thought I would link to the interesting idea.  I think that the best plan is something that is actually not in the NBA’s hands.  In fact, it has more to do with you.  The Presidential election is less than one-hundred days away.  If you want to see the NBA gain back strength against the international market, vote for who you think will turn around our struggling economy.  The strength of the Euro against the Dollar has allowed teams like Olympiacos to sign players that we would have never imagined would leave the NBA for an Euroleague team a year ago.  Till then, agents will rightfully pit NBA teams against potential offers from overseas.

  • http://sportsagentblog.com Darren Heitner

    I forgot to note that the NBA just announced that “Five NBA teams to partake in exhibitions against Euro powers” [http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/news/story?id=3509914&campaign=rss&source=ESPNHeadlines].

    If you can’t out-spend them, embrace them?

  • Joe Stuckel

    Excellent article. I’m from Chicago and really wouldn’t be shocked to see Gordon take off for Europe. If a team over there is willing to give him good money, it would make sense for him to give it serious consideration.

    However, I am conflicted as to whether or not agents should use these Euro teams to drive up the price of their clients. On one hand, I feel it is unfair to the NBA teams. But on the other hand the agents have to do what they can to get their clients paid. I guess that if a player is really serious about going to play in Europe then go ahead and use that as leverage. But I don’t think that using that threat as leverage is fair if the player is not seriously considering heading to Europe for play.

  • http://sportsagentblog.com Darren Heitner

    Joe-

    Thanks for the comment. Whether it is fair or not is besides the point. An agent’s fiduciary duty is to do everything possible that is legal which will benefit his client. If his client’s sole concern is the most amount of money possible and does not care about the team potentially finding out that the agent made a little white lie, then so be it. However, an agent must also assess the potential of it backfiring.

  • http://www.legba.sport-business.ru legba

    So, there in Rusia we are going nutty about our sport manadger’s deals: they have too much money, but they have not any brains at all. They could only spend. but they do not know how to earn. Childress for Greece is really big thing. But take a look on CSKA and Dinamo – there summery budget is more than budget of all professional teams of France. It seemed like you can “buy” the victory on national cham and cup.

  • http://legba.sport-business.ru legba

    And pardon my English. It’s morning :)

  • Joe Stuckel

    Darren,

    You’re right that the agent has a responsibility to the client and it isn’t a matter of being fair or unfair. I was also concerned about a potential backfire which is why I feel that an agent shouldn’t just always use something like this as leverage. But, if it works then it is an excellent strategy to use. Basically I think each situation would be different in terms of risk.

  • http://zonersports.com The Zoner

    Good stuff. But I have to contend that Gordon has been given every chance to shine with the Bulls. He can definitely light it up, but he is a poor defender and his size is always an issue. BG had his chance to sign a great offer from the Bulls last year and chose not to.

  • Michael

    This article was very informational. I recently heard about all of this on Sportscenter, and it never really occurred to me how big of a deal this was. The NBA has become a league more about the faces than the basketball. As Olympic commentators have stated, the international game is extremely different in contrast with the American game. We may have the most talented team in the world by far, but these international teams work together and truly focus on the fundamentals in the game of basketball not taking their man one on one. I think adding an international sect to the NBA could be beneficial for all, however, I can’t say that I want to see players like Lebron or Kobe headed off to Europe to triple their money. Although, it is hard to say all of us would turn down triple the money we all make by making a simple transition.

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