Orlando Magic introduce Justin Harper

2011 Orlando Magic draft pick Justin Harper (acquired by trade) talks to the media during a press conference introducing him and fellow second-round pick DeAndre Liggins on June 29, 2011. (Jacob Langston, Orlando Sentinel / June 29, 2011)

You've probably heard that Orlando Magic rookie Justin Harper has decided to play for SIG Strasbourg in France's top professional league for as long as the NBA lockout lasts.

That's a big change for Harper. In late June, after the Magic acquired the second-round pick in a draft day trade, he said he had no interest in playing overseas.

But the probability that the lockout will drag on for many months forced Harper and his agent, Lance Young, to reconsider that stance.

"I weighed the advantages and disadvantages of going versus staying, and I just really thought the most good would come out of me going to France and playing," Harper told the Orlando Sentinel last night.

So what are the pros and cons of Harper playing overseas?

Let's start with the disadvantages.

Con #1: Injury
Like any basketball player anywhere, Harper could suffer a serious injury during his time with SIG Strasbourg.

That's a potentially significant financial risk for Harper because he's a second-round pick. Second-round picks typically sign partially guaranteed or nonguaranteed contracts with their first NBA teams; if Harper gets hurt in France, his short-term and long-term earning potential could take a major hit.

And, remember, since he's a rookie, Harper hasn't made any money as a pro. He doesn't have a nest egg to fall back on if his career fizzles out due to injury.

Both Harper and Young acknowledge the injury risk. But, ultimately, they determined that Harper could have gotten hurt if he had remained in the U.S. and played pickup games or trained on his own.

"There's always the possibility of getting injured, no matter if you're playing over there or you're playing over here," Harper told the Sentinel. "It can happen anywhere. People get hurt doing the easiest things."

Young noted that Harper has taken out additional insurance in case of injury.

Con #2: Culture shock
Harper speaks English and some Spanish.

Unfortunately, neither is the primary language in Strasbourg, a city near France's border with Germany. Harper doesn't speak French or German.

He's in for a dose of culture shock -- both personally and professionally.

Pro basketball players in Europe typically don't enjoy the same perks as their NBA counterparts. European teams often hold more practices than NBA teams. Their travel and hotel accommodations aren't as comfortable either.

Put it this way: The Magic fly on a chartered jet from Orlando to Miami when they play road games against the Heat. Somehow, I don't see SIG Strasbourg jetting on a private plane to play an opponent that's only a four-hour drive away.

Con #3: Burnout
Ideally, the lockout will end soon, and NBA players will go back to work, and Harper will be in Orlando at Magic training camp.

"We're just crossing our fingers he comes back in October or November and not January or February or staying the whole year," Young said.

Problem is, Harper and other NBA players who sign overseas deals might be a little worn out physically and mentally when they return to the U.S.

* * *

We've talked about the potential negatives. What about the positives?

Pro #1: He'll get better as a player
If he had stayed in the U.S. and waited for the lockout to end, Harper would've gathered some rust and stunted his own growth as a basketball player.

Part of what made Harper appealing to the Magic is that he improved every season in high school and in four years at the University of Richmond.

He didn't make his middle-school team as a seventh- or eighth-grader, didn't play varsity ball until his junior year of high school and wasn't a big-time college recruit. But he persevered, and some NBA teams -- including the Magic -- considered him a first-round talent.

His tour with SIG Strasbourg should enable him to continue that upward trajectory.

"If it's a longer lockout, like everybody's saying, then I'll get a chance to still be in shape and be playing against some professionals," Harper said. "It'll give me a chance to improve before I report to training camp."

Pro #2: He'll earn money
All athletes have a limited window to make money in their chosen profession.

Why should a basketball player give up a year of earnings just because the NBA is in lockout mode?

When people earn their college degrees, they're expected to go out and get a job. Why should Harper be any different?

Indeed, Harper will receive some upfront money and reportedly will earn $14,000 a month during his time with SIG Strasbourg.

That's not NBA money, but it's good money.

In addition, Young said the team will furnish Harper with a car and with living accommodations in Strasbourg.

Pro #3: He'll grow as a person
Harper has been overseas before. He and his Richmond Spiders teammates spent a couple of weeks in Spain on a basketball tour in Aug. 2008.

But this will be a much more demanding experience that will help him grow as a person.

He'll learn about a new culture. He'll pick up some French and some German. He'll meet new people.

Those are all positives.

Pro #4: He'll have at least one friend there
SIG Strasbourg already had signed one of Harper's college teammates: point guard Kevin Anderson.

Anderson and Harper are close friends, and they can lean on each other as they adapt to life in France. The team also has some other American players on its roster.

Pro #5: He'll return when the lockout ends Harper's contract with SIG Strasbourg will allow him to return to the U.S. as soon as the lockout is over.

Follow Josh Robbins on Twitter at @JoshuaBRobbins and e-mail him at jrobbins@orlandosentinel.com. Subscribe to our Orlando Magic newsletter at OrlandoSentinel.com/joinus.