Virtus Bologna will have their season opener on October 9 against Roma, therefore President Claudio Sabatini is hoping to ink the deal with NBA star Kobe Bryant as soon as possible.
According to Sabatini, Bryant and his agent Rob Pelinka have agreed to a $3 million deal which will see the LA Lakers point guard play in 10 matches over a period of 35 to 40 days. However, the deal is being hindered by a couple of problems, such as the conclusion of the NBA lockout and a couple of Italian teams refusing to alter their schedules to compensate Bologna and Bryant with a new time table.
Sabatini wants to Bologna to play 5 of their first 10 games at home. He also wants to schedule the biggest arenas in Italy for the Bryant-showdown, however small clubs like Cremona and Varese are posing as obstacles in the whole process.
The deal also allows Bryant to return in time to NBA if the lockout ends. The 33-year-old veteran still has three years worth of $83.5 million left on his contract with the Lakers but if Bryant is injured playing abroad the whole contract could be nullified.
Bologna need Bryant’s signature before the end of next week so that they can enter Bryant into the Italian league. According to Sabatini, Bryant is expected to get his work visa and return to Italy by next week. Bryant was just recently in Italy for a sponsorship deal.
"Kobe should be in Bologna by Wednesday or Thursday with his visa in hand for medical visits and then we can deposit the contract with the league," Sabatini stated while talking to media. "I want to make clear that right now there are still no signatures. We've got to write the contract, which will then be read over and over again."
Bryant used to live in Italy with his father Joe Bryant when he was between the ages of 6 and 13 years. Bryant expressed in an interview a few days ago that he still has fond memories from his time in Italy and can speak Italian fluently. Bryant also stated that he was looking forward to return to his other home.
"Italy is my home. It's where my dream of playing in the NBA started. This is where I learned the fundamentals, learned to shoot, to pass and to (move) without the ball," Bryant said in an interview. He continued, "All things that when I came back to America the players my age didn't know how to do because they were only thinking about jumping and dunking." Bryant added that playing in Italy would be "a dream for me."