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Thursday, July 31, 2008
Now Talking: White Chocolate and Tel Aviv


I heard from several different sources early today that Maccabi Tel Aviv was in talks with none other than the Miami Heat's unrestricted free agent point guard Jason Williams. (In fact, Wikipedia already lists Williams on the Maccabi roster. UPDATE: Silly me, Maccabi has another Jason Williams, who plays forward.)

His agent Dan Tobin confirms the talks are on.

"In the current climate," he says, "you have to take these offers seriously."

So, is this a negotiating ploy to encourage an NBA team to offer more? Or is there really a chance White Chocolate is going overseas?

Williams, according to Tobin, has been overseas only when the Memphis Grizzlies played preseason games in Europe.

I asked Tobin what his best guess was as to where Jason Williams would play. "No guess," he said. "I don't want to speculate. But we're listening, we're patient, and we're looking for something specific."

Tobin says that, more than money, Williams' biggest priority is to win.

Maccabi Tel Aviv's roster is one of the best in the Euroleague, and features former lottery picks Marcus Fizer and Rodney White, as well as upcoming players like Omri Casspi. Last season, the team won a major pre-season tournament, and made the finals (but lost) in the Euroleague Finals, the Israeli State Cup, and the Israeli League Final.

Many basketball veterans tell me that there is no country that is easier for American basketball players to adjust to than Israel.

Tobin's client, former Net Tamar Slay, played in Jerusalem, and Tobin says the lifestyle was magnificent. "You are in a different country. But there are high-rises, there are beaches, everyone speaks English. Most of the things you see as you go through your day are things that you are used to seeing in America," Tobin says. Not to mention, "you get an apartment and a car, and the team takes care of the taxes."

Tobin says he is talking to NBA teams -- he won't say which ones -- and has heard from several overseas organizations. "But Maccabi Tel Aviv reached out," he explains, and of the international teams, Tobin says "that's the one I'm particularly focused on."