Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Los Angeles Lakers [Print without images]

Wednesday, August 3, 2011
Trey Johnson signs in Italy

By Brian Kamenetzky

ESPNLA.com's Dave McMenamin has the news:
"...[Trey] Johnson, a late-season call-up by the Lakers from the D-League last year, signed a one-year deal with Teramo Basket of the Italian League on Wednesday. Johnson's agent, Mark Bartelstein, told ESPNLosAngeles.com that his client's contract does not include an opt-out clause to return to the NBA should the lockout be resolved in time for the league to hold all or part of the 2011-12 season..."

Johnson lit up the D-League last season, averaging 25.5 points and 4.5 assists a night, and impressed L.A.'s former coaching staff both in training camp and through his late season cup of coffee. He's a hard-working kid who probably deserves a shot to stick in the league. He's also incredibly smart to take a guaranteed deal with a solid team in an appealing location. It's one thing for Deron Williams to ink a deal with Besiktas in Turkey, or Jordan Farmar to sign in Isreal, both with opt-out clause. Johnson is a guy with absolutely no guarantee of making the Lakers or any other roster heading into an NBA season that, quite frankly, may not take place.

Waiting around does him no good, and an opt-out isn't a luxury he can necessarily demand. While we spend a lot of time (for obvious reasons) looking at where the big stars might go, it's the dudes at the other end of the food chain likely to jump at the first-and/or-best available opportunity abroad.

Player to player, the impact on the season, assuming it happens, is minimal. Still, if enough of the Trey Johnson/Sonny Weems/Sasha Vujacic's of the world head overseas, at least in theory it could drive up the demand, and therefore the price by a few bucks, on other players who might otherwise have been available for the league minimum. If so, that could be problematic for cap strapped teams like the Lakers, hoping to fill as many holes as possible with limited funds.