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Old 07-23-2008, 01:24 PM   #1
doublee
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Default Childress Jumps to Greece, Jennings Goes to Italy: The Beginning of a Trend?

Restricted free agent Josh Childress is heading overseas to play in Greece for Olympiakos after agreeing to a 3-year deal worth $20 million. Childress is heading to Europe to play despite the fact that Atlanta allegedly had a $36 million deal on the table that started at a base salary above $5.6 million. This is a very intriguing move to me to say the least and coupled with Brandon Jennings deciding to play in Europe as opposed to going to college for year raises some interesting issues for the NBA.


Now Josh Childress is not the first NBA free agent to decide he is going overseas to play ball next year: Primoz Brezec, Carlos Delfino, Juan Carlos Navarro, and Bostjan Nachbar have signed with European teams as well for next season. Nor is Childress the first American player to go overseas to play basketball scores of college kids who do not get drafted go overseas to play every year. What Childress is, is he is the first American born free agent that NBA teams are interested in who has decided to spurn the NBA and go overseas to play basketball.



While Childress was a free agent and free to negotiate with any team of his choosing he was still a restricted free agent which means the Atlanta Hawks ultimately held his fate in their hands. They had the right to match any offer made to him by another NBA team which means that as long as the Hawks still want him around and can afford to match the contract offered him he was destined to remain in Atlanta and apparently that was not an appealing option to Josh Childress. It is going to be interesting to see if other players in Childress' class of restricted free agents who have yet to sign with anyone are going to follow suit and there is some quality talent out there like Luol Deng and Monta Ellis.



Would players like Ellis and Deng even consider jumping over to Europe to get out from under the teams that own their rights as restricted free agents and play overseas in an effort to enchance their appeal in the NBA? My gut feeling is that they will not considering that Childress' deal is reported to be the biggest ever given out to a European League player and the stark reality of it is the Euro teams do not have the cash to be able to afford and compete with the NBA in terms of paying high end talent top dollar.


Keep in mind that Childress has never amounted to being much more than a 6th man for the Hawks. He has always been a role player in the NBA and has never given the appearance of being a franchise caliber player. A player of his caliber demands the highest contract in history one can only imagine what players like Deng and Ellis would command as odds are Golden State and Chicago are looking at paying out more than that to retain them long term. If Ellis and Deng decide to take their qualifying offers and go the unrestricted free agent route next summer then they will easily command in the $10 million per season range from perspective bidders. I seriously doubt whether European teams can compete in that kind of environment and whether they would be willing to pony up the six and seven year guaranteed contracts that the NBA doles out to its upper echelon talent.


Now, Brandon Jennings, on the other hand, is a completely different ball game and could potentially open the floodgates for high school kids who just want to play ball and do not want to be bothered with going to class any more. Jennings recently opted to go to Italy and sign a deal reported to be either two or three years in length. Now, I am not entirely convinced we are going to see a glut of players traipsing over to Europe just yet. My gut tells me a lot of these kids are going to wait and see how Jennings fares next year before making that jump. They are going to want to see if Jennings actually gets a legitmate shot at significant playing time or if he is just going to rot away on the bench.



You see Jennings is going to need playing time to show NBA scouts what he has. If he does not play at all that does not help him out when his contract is up and he wants to come back home to play in the NBA. However, if Jennings goes over and gets to play significant minutes and becomes a key player to his team's success then we will probably see more and more high school kids deciding to go overseas for a couple of years instead of going to college for a year and then turning pro. Given that David Stern has mentioned recently that he is in favor of tacking another year onto kids' NBA exile forcing them to go to college for two years this will become even more appealing as they will be able to go overseas for two or three years to hone their skills and then be even more NBA ready.


Something tells me this is exactly what the NBA wants to happen here and maybe Stern's rhetoric is going to set this in motion. The whole reason for the imposition of the age limit to beign with was because NBA owners were belly aching about having to hand out guaranteed deals to high school kids who flame out miserably and never amount to anything in the NBA. Their reasoning was such that we can weed out some of the phonies by forcing them to go to college for a year and play against competition of the same caliber instead of watching them dominate a bunch of kids who are not in their league and deciding they are NBA material.


The irony here is they are still drafting kids who proved very little at the college level and giving them big time contracts. On top of that it has always seemed odd to me that they have no reservations about drafting an 18/19 year old European kid who plays a handful of minutes per game off the bench for his club and has never shown that he can become a starter in the that league. It amazes me how little stock NBA teams put in a player's actual achievements and how much they put into percieved upside and potential. But, anyway, I am sure the NBA would rather these kids go overseas and hone their skills than having to deal with them in their league. Let them go over prove their ilk in Europe before setting foot on a NBA floor. Let the European leagues figure out who has the talent and the will to survive and then the NBA will come over and poach the pick of the litter and let the other kids stay overseas.


The fallout from these two player's decisions is going to be very interesting to watch to say the least. We will likely begin to see more players like Jennings make the leap to go overseas and get paid to play ball. Why not? Why go to college if you have no interest in gong and getting an education in the first place? Why waste everyone's time when you can to Europe and get paid cash to play ball? Most of these kids who are just marking time waiting for that year to pass are likely not going to class anyway.


But, the one I am most curious about is whether or not the NBA takes action to make it tougher for restricted free agents to go overseas. Will teams start writing buyout clauses into contracts of players who still qualify as restricted free agents in an effort to combat the potential of an exodus of talent overseas? Will the day come when a player like Josh Childress will need to pay a NBA team some cash to be free to go to Europe much like the European teams do today?


Given how much stronger the Euro is in comparison to the dollar right now will American players go overseas to reap the benefits of the conversion rate? Twenty million Euros is worth much more than 20 million American dollars right now. I read somewhere recently that a three million dollar deal in Europe is worth roughly 9 million American when you factor in the conversion rate and lesser tax rates paid overseas. If that math is correct then who can blame a guy like Childress for taking that kind of contract?
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Old 07-25-2008, 05:23 PM   #2
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Great post, doublee. I think it's more likely that HS players play in Europe until they become NBA-eligible. If they absolutely don't want to go to school and deal with classes, and I can understand that, it's not a bad idea to play overseas. As for NBA players doing that, I think it's an isolated occurrence and will only happen to players who can't make it in the NBA. I just don't think the value of the dollar is going to make the NBA inferior to Europe.
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Old 07-25-2008, 09:22 PM   #3
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In general no I doubt it simply because I don't think the Euro teams have the inclination to give out six or seven year contracts nor do they have the reources to afford such deals for the elite American talent. But what the power of the Euro could potentially do is keep the top young European talent in Europe because they can make far more money staying put than they can coming to the NBA and playing for a pre-determined salary based on the rookie pay scale.
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Old 08-06-2008, 03:48 PM   #4
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Earl Boykins just signed a deal with Italy making him the highest paid Italian player. But the big news is could LeBron be next? http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/news/s...=ESPNHeadlines

I don't understand this. Sure, maybe more money with the currency conversions, but basketball isn't as big in Europe, and you're basically stepping out of the limelight by leaving the NBA. What star would want to do that?
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Old 08-06-2008, 10:18 PM   #5
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Seriously, I don't know why ESPN is trying to make this out to be some kind of newsworthy tidbit on LeBron. Really when the deals Boykins and LeBron got are two of the richest in their leagues there is no way a European team is going to come up with $50 million dollars for LeBron. As I said before I firmly believe that the European teams do not have the cash to compete with the NBA when it comes to the elite basketball talent of the world. Not only are NBA franchises willing to pony up $100 million in guaranteed contracts elite talent can earn just as much in endorsement money as they do from playing basketball.

Honestly, that dollar figure is likelybeing thrown out there because he knows it is not within the realm of possibility. He is basically saying, "sure I'll play in Europe for $50 mil a year", because he knows it won't ever come to fruition. There is no real incentive for him to even consider a jump to Europe unless it is for some ungodly amount of money.
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