Well, what we suspected would happen for months now is just hours before realisation. As the NBA announced NBA team owners are locking the players out and the league is suspended.
Negotiations between the two parties broke off minutes ago (Thursday afternoon in Manhattan). This means that at least a part of the 2011/12 NBA season will be lost and along with it tens of millions of dollars in the form of players wages, TV rights revenues, tickets sales, sponsorships etc.
The last time there was a lock out in 1998 some European players like Vlade Divac, Marko Milic, Zan Tabak returned to play in Europe until the league resumed and Americans like Mahmud Abdul-Rauf and Michael Olowokandi (regardless that he was a joke) made the overseas leap, while NBA absence on TV was covered with… Texas Hold’em Poker which has become major business since then.
NBA bosses were looking for some generous cuts by the players following a $300m loss season, but the players insisted on only taking a 100m per season cut for the next five seasons, something which the clubs didn’t think would make their business viable.
This could spark the fire of return to home of many European NBA players (and even some American ones). Nikola Pekovic’ agent Misko Raznatovic has already admitted his client has agreed to return to Europe (it is rumoured it would be for Galatasaray), while other players who have said they would return include the likes of Kirilenko, Dragic, Calderon, Fernandez, the Gasol brothers, Vesely, Casspi and others while Bayern Munich president Uli Hoeness stated that in the unlikely event Dirk Nowitzki wished to play for them the team would come up with the funds needed.
One thing is for sure, it will be a very very interesting summer transfer market in Europe with new economical powers emerging, like the Turkish clubs, the return of CSKA and the demise of Greek giants we will be witnessing a lot of surprises.