SBD/Issue 221/Leagues & Governing Bodies

LeBron James Interested In Short Stint In Europe For $50M/Year

James Would Consider Playing In Europe
If Offered Around $50M Annually
Cavaliers F LeBron James would "strongly consider playing overseas if he was offered a salary of 'around $50[M] a year,'" according to a source cited by Chris Broussard of ESPN.com. James' current contract expires after the '09-2010 NBA season, and while "several NBA teams are working to create salary cap space for his impending free agency, none could offer a contract beginning at even $20[M] a year." The source said that Russian team CSKA Moscow and Greek team Olympiakos "have already contacted James," but added that "no monetary or contractual discussions have taken place." Broussard wrote, "Losing a player of James' magnitude would be nothing short of a nightmare for the NBA." An NBPA official: "LeBron is one of the three or four players the league would definitely hate to lose. If a team lost him or [Lakers G Kobe Bryant] to Europe, it would lose its mind. It would be devastating." NBA President of League & Basketball Operations Joel Litvin: "It would be disappointing to lose one of our star players, but I have no concern at all about the best players playing anywhere but in the NBA for a long time to come." The source said that James "would play in Europe only for a year or two before returning to the NBA," and that James "would view it as an opportunity to popularize the game and himself overseas." The source added that James "would not consider himself to be playing in the 'minor leagues'" (ESPN.com, 7/5). In Sacramento, Martin McNeal writes James "should have interest [in playing overseas], if he truly wants to become a global icon." A three year, $150M offer "would be incredibly difficult to pass up," as James "could earn three years worth of megafunds overseas, then return to the [U.S.] with an even fatter wallet" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 8/6). SPORTINGNEWS.com's Dan Shanoff writes, "If I was a European club backed by big money, I’d totally call [James'] bluff and offer him $50[M] a year in his free-agent year of 2010. Bet he’d do it, too" (SPORTINGNEWS.com, 8/6). ESPN’s Mike Greenberg said the day James goes to play overseas "is the day [the NBA] should be worried about it" (“Mike and Mike In The Morning,” ESPN, 8/6).  

Boykins Becomes Ninth NBAer
This Offseason To Sign With Int'l Team
MORE ON THE MOVE: Free agent G Earl Boykins has signed a one-year, $3.5M deal with Italian team Virtus Bologna, becoming “the ninth player who worked in the NBA last season” to sign with an int’l team. Boykins will be the highest-paid player in the Italian league. Boykins' agents Mark Termini and Andy Bountogianis said that the deal "includes income from Bologna's sponsorship and marketing arms, which is not an option for NBA players because of salary-cap restrictions (ESPN.com, 8/5).

FOREIGN EXCHANGE: TRUEHOOP's Henry Abbott wrote F Josh Childress' three-year, $20M deal with Olympiakos "has changed the way people think and talk about contracts." Several agents have said that there are "at least six or seven teams in Europe with extremely deep pockets, and a willingness to spend." Abbott wrote, "Maybe somewhere in there between capitalism and free speech, this is the 2008 version of the American way" (ESPN.com, 8/5). SI's Chris Mannix notes Heat G Dwyane Wade and Lakers G Kobe Bryant, after a recent USA Olympic basketball team workout, "were making light of what has evolved into a potentially serious situation for the NBA: the defection of its talent overseas." Bryant: "What do you think, D-Wade, $50[M] over two? ... Here's your backcourt. Give us $50[M] for two years, and we're going to Milan" (SI, 8/4 issue). 

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