Former Wisconsin Badgers forward Jon Leuer had his dream come true last month when the Milwaukee Bucks selected him with the 40th overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft. But like the rest of the 2011 draft class, Leuer has to wait out a likely lengthy NBA Lockout before he gets a chance to actually play in the league.
While the NBA Players Union and owners bicker over dollar amounts, NBA rookies-to-be await the moment they have been waiting for; stepping on a NBA floor. Since Leuer was a second round pick, he does not have a guaranteed contract with Milwaukee so while the Bucks own his rights, technically he is unemployed for the moment. Like the rest of the players in the league, all Leuer can do is be patient during the lockout.
“It’s definitely a different situation having the lockout,” Leuer said. “I’ve never been through anything like this before. It’s out of my control. I can’t really worry too much about it but I’m hoping once they get it all figured out that we can hit the ground running. Right now, I’m trying to stay ready, train hard, and once it’s done, hopefully I’ll be ready to go.”
With the two sides are nowhere near an agreement on a new CBA, the lockout could easily extend into the regular season. That possibility has already triggered several fringe NBA players to sign contracts overseas so they receive guaranteed money, rather than hope to catch on with a NBA team.
Even some marquee players are flirting with the idea of playing in Europe until the lockout ends. Former Illini and current Nets point guard Deron Williams will reportedly sign a one-year, $5 million deal to play in Turkey if the NBA season does not start on time. Leuer admitted that he has thought about the possibility of heading overseas as well.
“I want to play in the NBA. That’s been my dream since I was a little kid was to play in the league. It’s what I want to do. Obviously, a lot of talk about guys going overseas, Deron Williams, some big name guys. It’s definitely an option. Right now, I’m focusing all my attention on the NBA.”
Leuer was drafted on June 23rd and had his introductory press conference with the Bucks the following day. The lockout did not begin until midnight on July 1st which at least gave Leuer the opportunity to work with Milwaukee’s coaches for a week.
“It was good,” Leuer said. “I learned a lot in the week I was there. Now you can’t have any contact with them so it’s definitely different. Right now I’d be going to summer leagues, learning their plays and what they’re doing schematically. Right now, it’s just preparing on my own.”
In the meantime, Leuer will prepare on his own by playing pick-up games with former Badger teammates and eventually end up working out in Chicago and Minneapolis until the lockout ends. He could also return to Madison and train at the Badgers’ facilities.
“The assistant coaches, Coach Ryan said whenever you want to come in and get a workout in, just let us know. To have those connections and be able to come back whenever, it’s great to have that opportunity.”
In one other Badger related note, sources tell the Sports Bank that former small forward Tim Jarmusz is contemplating signing with a German team. And if the end of the lockout is nowhere in sight come October or November, Leuer could be heading across the Atlantic as well.
David Kay is a senior feature NBA Draft, NBA, and college basketball writer for the Sports Bank. He also heads up the NBA and college basketball material at Walter Football.com and is a fomer contributor at The Washington Times Communities.
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