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Posted on Fri, Jul 15, 2011 : 10:43 a.m.

Former Michigan athletes deal with NFL, NBA lockouts

By Pete Cunningham

Former Michigan basketball player Manny Harris said that, despite the lockout in the NBA, he’s not planning on playing overseas. The same can’t be said of his former Wolverines teammate DeShawn Sims.

After being named the NBA Development League Rookie of the Year last year with the Maine Red Claws, Sims is trying out for teams in Europe, according to Harris.

“He’s basically preparing to go overseas, so he’s got some teams he’s trying out for,” Sims said. “He’s like a brother to me, we talk almost every day.”

The lockout situation in the NBA is different from the NFL in that players could go overseas and still make a very comfortable living. Prominent players like Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant and New Jersey Nets guard Deron Williams have expressed interest in playing overseas should the lockout cut into the season.

Though Harris seems like a perfect candidate to explore such options, considering he only (by NBA standards) made $473,604 during his rookie season with the Cleveland Cavaliers, he said nothing has been presented to him yet. Harris signed a two-year deal with the Cavs this year.

"I’ve been working out in Vegas, I got a trainer out there and that’s where I’ll be until the lockout ends," Harris said. "There’s a lot of NBA guys out there.”

NFL players don’t have the same luxury of another professional league that pays anything close to the salaries they currently make. Some former Wolverines are going about their offseason business not worried about what they can’t control, and more focused on what they can.

Former Michigan linebacker Larry Foote, currently under contract with the Pittsburgh Steelers, said he’s thankful not to be a free agent and that he’s been working out locally during the extended offseason.

“Just working out every day, you know three or four hours every day,” said Foote, who has been splitting workouts with Michigan women’s track coach James Henry and former Michigan strength and conditioning coach Mike Barwis, who opened a new gym in Plymouth.

Former Michigan lineman Brandon Graham -- who had microfracture surgery on his right knee following his rookie season with the Philadelphia Eagles -- said he’s thankful for the lockout in a way because it’s giving him more time to recover without missing time.

Graham said he hopes to be healthy enough to be practicing by September, and that the lockout is lifted by then.

"Nobody wants to miss out on (any time), and we just want to get the season going -- especially with the Eagles, because we have a shot this year,” Graham said. “I feel like (the pressure) is on both sides because I know the fans want to see football. It affects the players because people always ask us when the lockout will be over, and we don't really hear too much, just like everybody else.”

Pete Cunningham covers sports for AnnArbor.com. He can be reached at petercunningham@annarbor.com or by phone at 734-623-2561. Follow him on Twitter @petcunningham.

Comments

Meangoblue

Fri, Jul 15, 2011 : 5:08 p.m.

I guess the writers for AA.com ran out of stories this Friday. Below is something for everyone to think about as we await opening day kick-off and a return to MEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEANchigan football!! Welcome back my friends (members of the MCC excluded) to the show that never ends (Al Borges pro style offense and Greg Mattisons defense) We're so glad you could attend, (members of the MCC excluded) come inside, come inside There behind a glass (Mr. Mattison staring down from the press box) stands a real blade of grass Be careful as you pass, (opposing teams) move along, move along(members of the MCC included)