As a vice president with the National Basketball Players Association, Roger Mason Jr. has been front-and-center in collective bargaining between the NBA and the union. So perhaps there is something ominous about him negotiating a deal with Hapoel Jerusalem.
Mason Jr. said he wants to be optimistic, but everything he's heard so far in the meetings with the league has motivated more of a realistic perspective.
"Do I want to just stay out here in L.A. and play pickup?" he said in a phone conversation on Monday. "Or do I want to go into a structured situation in a beautiful country?"
He's prepared to choose Door No. 2, with, of course, an NBA out so he can return when the lockout ends.
"I can get myself ready for the season in a training camp, in a structured situation, and put money in my pocket," Mason Jr. said. "It's a no-brainer for me."
It's also an easier decision for him, a free agent, than some of his Knicks teammates, especially Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire, the latter of whom, according to a person with knowledge of the situation, has recently been contacted by a different team from the Israel league. Players with big contracts would need to secure insurance, which is extremely difficult and costly. If a player is injured playing overseas during the lockout, his NBA team has the right to void his contract.
Mason Jr. had a disappointing season with the Knicks. He played just 12.3 minutes per game and averaged 2.9 points and shot 33 percent from the field. He said he would like to re-sign with the Knicks to redeem himself.
"I had a bad taste in my mouth when the season ended," he said. "I want to come back for another season; have a real season."