For the last few days, Trey Johnson found himself weighing his future playing options.
He joined the Lakers as a late-season pickup from the D-League just before the playoffs last season and even impressed Phil Jackson enough to earn actual playing time. Even without an NBA contract and any official word from the Lakers on what his future would entail, Johnson still believed he'd retain a roster spot. Still, with the NBA lockout looming for an uncertain period of time, Johnson signed a one-year deal Wednesday with the Teramo Basket of the Italian League.
"I didn't know if I wanted to commit myself that early," Johnson said in a phone interview Thursday. "I definitely feel like I'm an NBA player and that I worked hard to get to where I'm at. I didn't want to feel like I was giving up on that so soon. I don't feel like I'm giving up on it. It's just a situation where I have to make a business decision and do what's best for me and my family at the moment. We don't know how long our season will be or if we really have a season."
Regardless of how negotiations over a new collective bargaining agreement turn out, however, Johnson definitely won't play in the NBA at all for at least one year. That's because, as ESPN Los Angeles' Dave McMenamin first reported, Johnson's contract doesn't have an opt-out clause even if the lockout ends early enough so that all or at least part of the 2011-2012 season remains intact.
"I definitely wanted an opt-out clause, but they were reluctant to give me one," Johnson said. "A lot of European teams won't give you one unless you're a big NBA guy. We definitely tried for it, but they didn't want to give it to me. I just have to make the most of the situation. Hopefully by next year, I'll be a better player and the opportunity is still there for me in the NBA."