Earlier this year
LaMelo and RJ could leave before the end of the season
Matt Logue on The Basketball Show said he's hearing whispers from team managers that LaMelo and RJ 'could' end up leaving the NBL mid-season depending on their form and the standing of their teams on the ladder, and he also said that if they chose to do that, there is literally nothing the league could do to stop them.
This is some fairly disconcerting news that this is even being thought of or spoken of so early. But apparently it is an option that is on the table for these Next Stars players. He said that they could pull out mid-season to protect their draft stocks and this is even more likely if their teams look likely to miss playoffs.
What I have to ask is, is this what the NBL is putting hundreds of thousands of dollars in these kids pockets for - so they can just leave whenever it suits them? Wasn't the other option for them to play college for freakin' FREE and to play out the entire season there, as most college players actually do?
It is also interesting to wonder where this talk is coming from. Is this talk coming from their agents, or just people on the periphery wondering what may happen?
Apparently Logue has been in contact with the NBL, New Zealand Breakers and the Hawks, and the expectation is that they'll stay the season. But the fact is, is there is nothing that makes them do so. I know you can't keep anyone here against their will, but surely a contract is a contract and needs to be respected?
And then there is the extra weight this program carries this year, with the ESPN deal, the SLAM deal with the Hawks, Facebook Watch coming on board, and all the rest of it. All of this is banked on the golden goose that is LaMelo Ball actually playing the season. We haven't even played the first game and already questions are being raised that wouldn't be raised if these two were simply imports.
If these kids can just come and go as they please it makes a joke of our league. If they ditch us mid-season it tarnishes whatever credibility we've built and leaves two teams without starting point guards. If this is the route Next Stars is going to take, then I think it might be time to quit while we're ahead. All the extra attention is fantastic, but it could be setting us up for an almighty fall.