Nets' Williams may play in Turkey

Nets guard Deron Williams will be a free Nets guard Deron Williams will be a free agent after the 2011-12 NBA season. (Mar. 18, 2011) Photo Credit: AP

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Deron Williams could be on his way to play in Turkey, and he might not be alone.

Turkish team Besiktas says it is close to reaching a deal with the Nets' All-Star guard, according to The Associated Press. The question now is, what does that mean for the rest of the league?

"It's gotten the attention of the players, that's for sure," said Knicks guard Roger Mason Jr., vice president of the National Basketball Players Association. "They've all been hitting me up today . . . I've got to get answers for them."

A deal, according to multiple reports, immediately would release Williams to return to the NBA once the lockout ends. His agent, Jeff Schwartz, did not return a message asking for comment.

The NBA has told teams not to discuss players during the lockout, which began July 1 after the collective-bargaining agreement expired.

Mason said his teammates Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire contacted him after the news broke about Williams.

"I can see anybody doing it," said Mason, who left the NBA from 2004-06 to play for Olympiakos and Hapoel Jerusalem. "This is what people have to understand . . . A lot of guys love the game and want to be able to compete. I've talked to a lot of the star players -- Chris Paul, Amar'e, Melo -- I think those guys are open-minded to everything."

But it is less likely that superstars such as Anthony, who signed a three-year, $65-million extension in February, and Stoudemire, whose five-year, $99.7-million deal isn't fully insured, would risk playing overseas during a lockout. Agent Happy Walters told Newsday that Stoudemire "is not even considering something like this right now."

Mason said Williams' move is a bit early in the process. "First things first, though, we want to see if we can make a deal [with the NBA]," he said. "And then if that doesn't happen, then I think the next step will be guys exploring those options."

The sides haven't negotiated since June 30. The league has an agreement with the international basketball governing body, FIBA, that forbids teams from signing players under contract with the NBA. But during a lockout, the players are free.

It is a precarious situation for the Nets, who acquired Williams from Utah Feb. 23 with the idea of making him a cornerstone in their rebuild and move to Brooklyn. But he can opt out of his contract after next season.

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