I didn't really think this would happen, and yet it did. Josh Childress of the Atlanta Hawks has decided to go to Europe to make a boatload of cash playing for Olympiakos of Greece.
Apparently the deal is much more than the initially reported 3-years, $20 million (equivalent, of course). While the details haven't been released yet, it is the largest EuroLeague contract ever.
"It's official, I just signed," Childress said by phone Wednesday morning from Athens, where he and agent Jim Tanner will be until Friday. "I think it was . . . a situation where I didn't know who to expect coming in, coming over to Athens. But it's a great city and a great organization. They do whatever they can to make you feel at home."Yes, and they're also going to pay you a ton of money. Hell, I'd feel at home pretty much anywhere for the largest foreign basketball contract ever.
Atlanta had offered Childress a 5-year, $33 million contract, but that didn't fly. Even worse, there's nothing Atlanta can do about it. Although they retain Childress' rights for the next two years - because Childress is a restricted agent - they have no recourse to match an offer made to a restricted free agent by a non-NBA team.
Now, while Childress is hardly the second coming of MJ, he was a more than decent 6th man. And his departure could begin to pave the way for a troubling trend - at least in David Stern's eyes.
As the blog Five Tool Tool points out in a post entitled "The Euro Menace", with the Euro significantly stronger than the dollar right now, playing ball in Europe is actually getting more attractive. What's also attractive is that Euro teams have no salary cap.
And Childress isn't the first guy to do this, he's just the most noticeable player. Carlos Delfino, formerly of the Pistons, has decided to head to Khimki BC in Russia to make $9 million a year. He'd never get that in the NBA.
Bostjan Nachbar of the Nets, who averaged about 10 a game in 22 minutes, just inked a 3-year, $41 million deal to toil for Dynamo Moscow. I know Russia isn't on the Euro, but the country is flush with oil money right now.
Juan Carlos Navarro of Memphis is returning to Barcelona and Jorge Garbajosa of the Raptors is heading back to Europe as well. There are also a handful of other players working on contracts.
The fact is this is simple economics. It pays to be in Europe. Now, while the NBA won't be losing LeBron or Dwight Howard any time soon, we could see some rather talented bench players head across the Atlantic for more cash and playing time. And that could ultimately - if the Euro remains strong for years to come - result in some of these Euro teams getting bolder and bolder in terms of throwing money at bigger and bigger names.
And don't think it can't happen. Look at the KHL, the new Russian hockey league, they've already snagged Jaromir Jagr and Ray Emery.
On top of all this, recent phenom high school point guard Brandon Jennings, who didn't meet academic requirements to get into Arizona, has decided to head to Italy to play professionally for a year before likely declaring for the NBA Draft next season. Jennings opens the door for high school phenoms, whether they qualify for college or not, to potentially spend a year abroad - and get paid handsomely - rather than be forced to attend college for a year.
I know David Stern wanted to make the NBA an international game, but I don't think he thought he'd start losing players in the process. But that's precisely what's happening.