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Serge Ibaka Open to the Idea of Playing in Spain During the Lockout


While vacationing in Spain, Ibaka recently told a radio station that he would be open to returning to Spain, where he played for two seasons prior to officially joining the Thunder.


"If there is a lockout, and there are not many complications to play in the CBA, I would like to return here to play," Ibaka is quoted as saying.

This isn't that surprising, considering Ibaka's ties to Spain. But, it does give good insight into the current lockout situation. This time around, both sides seem to be willing to wait. Lots of owners recently purchased their teams and want to forge a valuable asset, so they're willing to wait as long as it takes. Similarly, the players can choose to play overseas if they so choose, giving them bargaining power should they choose to wait.

Of course, there is the issue of players being under contract of their NBA teams, which would not allow them to play overseas if they were valid. It's a legal gray area that won't be solved until the first under contract player does decide to sign in another country. My best guess is that the players will find a loophole should the lockout go on that long, and that we'll see some NBA talent playing overseas next season.

But it does raise questions about just how many players will want to go play overseas. The Euroleague offers the toughest competition, and it will be tougher to get big contracts because most teams have set rosters. Leagues in China and the Philippines offer easy money, but they don't have a very high level of competition, and NBA players regularly tear up those leagues with no remorse. Australia is somewhat in-between the two, with some good competition, but their league in financial trouble and teams are unwilling to shell out money for big name players because of past failures in that regard. Honestly, the destination depends on the player, but look for the main destinations to be China and developed Western European countries (not the UK), depending on the player's preference.

Will this out lead to a longer lockout? I'm no expert on the issue, but it's definitely a bad sign. Back in 1999, the players didn't see playing overseas as an option, and the owners were actually making money coming off of some of the NBA's most successful years financially. There was more incentive to get a deal done in that case, and the lockout lasted until January. Here, there is less incentive, so it's doubtful that issues will get resolved by the beginning of the season, going off of my limited knowledge.