Posted by Royce Young
The mass exodus to Europe because of the lockout hasn't happened quite yet and probably won't. There's not nearly as much money there as some think and the risk of injury simply isn't worth it.
However, over the weekend we told you about Rudy Fernandez's reported offer to go back to Spain. Possibly joining him overseas? Serge Ibaka, Carl Landry and Andrei Kirilenko.
Kirilenko is an unrestricted free agent so he can obviously sign anywhere without consequence. Via Talk Basketball:
"I’m in a better situation than the players who have valid contracts with NBA teams. If the lockout ends they will have to return to their teams. As a free agent I can play the entire next season in Europe, or even more than one season."
So that's one fairly big name. Landry, also a free agent, is rumored to have mutual interest with Armani Jeans Milano, via Gazetta della Sporta. Only rumor and speculation though as nothing concrete has been reported there.
But in Ibaka's case, he told a Spanish radio station via the Oklahoman, the he would consider going back to Spain to play professionally.
"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 reportedly said. "I would rather play to stay in shape rather than stay idle. We do not know how the lockout will go or the possibility for a player leaving the NBA to come to play here. But I would like an opportunity to play at a site where people like me."
Ibaka, unlike Kirilenko and Landry, is still under contract with the Thunder so it would be a complicated situation for him to go back. There hasn't been a real decision yet whether or not players currently under contract in the NBA would even be allowed by FIBA to play overseas.
But Ibaka played in Spain for Ricoh Manresa before joining the Thunder two seasons ago, so obviously he's familiar and comfortable there. I'd say it's a highly unlikely scenario and more just Ibaka talking than anything else.
Fact remains though, Europe is on players' minds. At least the money there is.