freakout

Josh Childress flew the Atlanta coop to play in Greece. Andris Biedrins, Carl Landry, Delonte West and Sasha Vujacic are all considering seeking out big Euro contracts. Hell, Jason Kidd has even suggested he might finish his career in Europe.

OH NO! THE SKY IS FALLING!!

No. No, it's not.

Honestly, I think that -- for the moment anyway -- this whole "The NBA is going to start losing all its players to overseas teams" issue is a little overblown. This isn't a new thing, folks. Did you know, for instance, that Kevin McHale almost never played for the Celtics? He nearly went to Europe to play for an Italian team before his rookie season because he felt the Celtics weren't offering him enough money (they weren't). Boston coach Bill Fitch famously said "Let him eat spaghetti," but Kevin ultimately chose to stay in the U.S.

Almost a decade later, Brian Shaw played one season for the Celtics before leaving Beantown to sign with the Italian team Il Messaggero Roma. (He returned a year later and signed a five-year deal with the Celtics, but then tried to renege and return to Italy. The Celtics sued him, won the case, and forced him to return stateside.) Danny Ferry also played for Il Messaggero (rather than play for the Clippers) before signing his infamous 10-year contract with the Cavaliers. And guys like Bob McAdoo and Dominique Wilkins spent some time playing Euro ball at the end of their careers. Robert Parish considered doing the same thing.

Honestly, I won't be truly worried until one of two things happen: We lose a truly big name player in his prime (LeBron, Kobe, D-Wade, or someone of that stature) or a whole bunch of relatively accomplished / borderline All-Star players in a relatively short period (such as, for example, if Brandon Roy, Gerald Wallace, Jose Calderon, Kevin Martin, Leandro Barbosa, Rudy Gay, and Tyson Chandler all signed with European clubs in the same offseason).

Yeah, yeah, yeah...the Euro is worth more than the Dollar, the players wouldn't have to pay taxes, and Globalization is starting to blah blah blah. You know what? I don't care. This just gives NBA players an extra bit of leverage in their contract negotiations. There is still, on average, more money and benefit to playing in The League than anywhere else on planet Earth. The Atlantic Ocean isn't parting for some mass European exodus just yet. Sure, we lost Josh, and we might even lose a Carl (although I doubt it) or a Sasha (still doubt it). But that's it.

Is it a hint of Things To Come? Maybe. Shoot, I'll even upgrade that to "probably." But it's only a hint, and those hints have come and gone for years. So, for the moment, I'm going to hold off on building that wall around the country to keep our NBA players in.

Update! Carson left the following comment on this post: "One thing I don't really see people mentioning is that Childress is going to be the HIGHEST PAID PLAYER in the Euroleague. Yes, Josh Childress -- the sixth man on the eight seed in the East -- is going to be the best compensated player in the entire Euroleague. It's not like they have big money over there to sign away stars to play against their weaker competition. A lot of the teams in Europe don't even make that much money, which is why they have so many sponsors...it's more of a way for corporations to get good PR. They're making a truly lucrative run at anybody who's good (Josh, you're solid but there's a lot of players better than you) in the NBA."

Indeed. According to ESPN, Childress' deal "is the most lucrative current contract in European basketball and the biggest in Euroleague history." And it's worth about $20 million (after taxes) over three years. Good money, no question...but how many really, really good NBA players would that buy? Plus, seeing as how it's the largest Euroleague payout of all time, I don't think you'll see a lot more Euro contracts like it any time in the near future.

And here's another couple important points. First, Childress can opt out after the first two years of the deal. Second, there's no buyout clause in the contract, which means he could decide to walk away...pretty much whenever. And check out these comments: "I signed this deal with the intention of playing with Olympiakos for the duration, but obviously, if an opportunity comes up in the NBA I'm more than willing to have my ears open to it. I'm an NBA player and I think I've proven that. This is a little change-up." Uh huh.

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24 Comments:
the thing most people should be worrying about is the inevitable bump in ticket prices because of this.

Anonymous JustinS said...
If people need a reason not to freak out, just look at people like Petteri Koponen and Rudy Fernandez, one guy on the verge of making mad European loot and another giving it up just for the chance to prove themselves in the NBA. Granted, Koponen's on the bubble right now (Portland has one roster spot left and hasn't committed to signing the Finn), but the fact that these guys are giving up buckets of cash to play on this side of the pond should tell you something.

Anonymous brandon hoffman said...
I'm not freaking out...yet.

But I think it's a mistake to brush off Childress and company because their mid-level players. They may be small fish in a big pond when it comes to the NBA as a whole. But they're instrumental in their team's success.

If more players of their caliber depart for the Euroleague, it will have a significant effect on the quality of play in the NBA.

Blogger Basketbawful said...
phenomenal cosmic power -- The only reason NBA owners need to raise ticket prices is "I...breath." At least, that's how it seems to me.

justins -- Exactly.

brandon hoffman -- I know what you're saying...but...so far only Childress has left The League. The others, in my opinion, are using the idea of jumping ship to leverage their position in contract negotiations. I sincerely doubt that any of those guys are really and truly considering a European Vacation.

Years ago, an Italian team made a coup when the nabbed Shaw and Ferry, and everybody was like, "Whoa...Europe's going to start stealing all our players!" But -- for the moment -- there's still more prestige and freedom and, overall, more money to be made in the states. Plus, with the exception of our foreign-born players, most NBAers are simply more comfortable and happy playing in their home country.

Like I said, it's going to take more than one decent player actually going Euro and a handful of somewhat lesser players considering it to get my undies in a bunch.

Anonymous brandon hoffman said...
Yeah, I understand the comparison you're making with Shaw and Ferry. But you have to admit that globalization hadn't occurred and the economy wasn't in the state that it is now.

Maybe the economy will turn around soon. I hope it does. But that won't change the fact that the Euroleague doesn't operate under a salary cap, luxury tax, age limit, or rookie pay scale.

Those are significant advantages that the Euroleague has over the NBA.

Hopefully, the "comfort level" of playing in one's home country will continue to play a huge factor. Because the gap between talent and financial resources that the NBA and Euroleague operate with will will continue to close.

Blogger Basketbawful said...
I'm not sure that things even now are as globalized as people say. It's further along, no doubt. But we haven't reached the point where America = Europe, or vice versa. And I'm not just talking about fact, but also perception and understanding. I don't think many American ballers want to go overseas and play. Give up their family? Their posse?

And yeah, the economy is down. BUT...NBA owners still seem to have deeper pockets and be richer (on average) than their Euro counterparts. Otherwise, hell, those teams would be outbidding our teams for players right and left.

But you're right in that the Euro gap is closing and will continue to do so, and those other factors (no salary cap, age limit, etc.) will play a bigger factor...particularly for college-but-not-NBA-age kids.

I tend to think of the "Euro Threat" the same way I think about Global Warming. We're not going to realize how much danger we're in until things get really bad.

Blogger Carson said...
one thing i don't really see people mentioning is that Childress is going to be the HIGHEST PAID PLAYER in the Euroleague...yes, josh childress the sixth man on the 8 seed in the East is going to be the best compensated player in the entire euroleague. It's not like they have big money over there to sign away stars to play against their weaker competition. a lot of the teams in europe don't even make that much money, which is why they have so many sponsors...it's more of a way for corporations to get good PR. they're making a truly lucrative run at anybody who's good (Josh you're solid but there's a lot of players better than you) in the NBA.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
In fact, Carson just stated one of the key points. Around here (I'm writing from Spain) there are only a handful of teams able to offer such contracts to NBA players: two or three from Greece and three from Russia (there were two until two weeks ago, but then Khimki appeared from nowhere with some hundred billions of euros). F.C. Barcelona made a huge effort to give an NBA-level contract to Juan Carlos Navarro, and no Spanish team (and ACB is supposed to be the most powerful league in Europe) was able to offer Jorge Garbajosa anything remotely similar to Khimki's offer. You get the idea...

So don't worry, this is not the end of the world for the NBA... yet.

By the way, congratulations to Basketbawful for the blog. It's terrific.

Blogger stephanie g said...
I think the NBA could use a little competition.

Blogger Saad said...
Weren't people just a few years ago upset about having to live in CANADA? There'll always be people like Childress, but there'll also be a lot more people happy to play in the NBA for a pittance.

Anonymous That Brazilian Guy said...
I don't know about what fate reserves for the nba, but those are some vintage boobs for sure.

Anonymous Melvin Corpuscle said...
... and besides, in the NBA you have more access to guns, weed, dog fights, "slutty" hotel staff who (apparrently) LOVE getting raped in the poo-hole ... you're never gonna have that freedom in Europe ... though if they got free parking, you may lose Smush ...

Anonymous Jon said...
Not sure where to post this but...
http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/news/story?id=3505617
Those are some damn shitty names.


P.S. According to the comments they also trademarked the team colors: Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, and Violett. The 2 t's are intentional. So it seems like they'll have rainbow jerseys.

Anonymous dumbgenius said...
The last time the NBA had something to worry about with this kind of magnitude was when a skinny kid from farragut academy decided to skip college in '95 and turn directly pro. we all know how well he did and how many wannabes did the same and eventually did nothing in the league.

fact is, there will be a few players here and there who will jump to europe instead of the states because, well, they can.

If anyone was offered a job in a different continent with better pay, a higher position/prestige (from 6th man to say, best player on the team) LESS WORK (Euroball is about 40 games a year) and LESS TRAVEL (greece, where most of the games are played is about the size of louisiana)

on a side note i used to travel a lot for work and i cant imagine the kind of physical abuse nba players do to themselves with the travel alone.

who wouldn't take that opportunity?

isnt that we all want? "less work, more pay and a promotion"

another thing, sure Josh Childress is now the highest paid player in the Euroleague, but every 3 years we have a new "highest paid player" in the NBA anyway.

although, like annonymous said up there, only a handful of teams have the money to get the top names.

Brandon Jennings, well he's another story altogether.

Plus people need to stop comparing the whole issue with danny freakin' ferry and brian stinkin' shaw. if for anything this is more like rick barry flip flopping the NBA and ABA back when he was choosing to destroy either the Los Angeles Lakers of the Flint Tropics.

Blogger SJ said...
Reports are coming out that Luol Deng, Kelenna Azuibuike and Michael Finley all turned down offers to go to Europe. And allegedly Sasha is signing with the Lakers for a lot less than he would take in Europe. Ditto for Rudy Fernandez. All of that puts a nice-sized dent in the 'everyone is going to go to Europe' argument. Let's not forget, if Childress doesn't perform at a high level I doubt that other Euro teams who aren't quite as bankable as Olympiakos are going to take that risk.

Only time will tell the true significance this isn't something that can be settled now.

Blogger Bartosz said...
Just remember that $20M in Europe (after taxes) equals to $30M in US (before taxes). That's a freakin $10M/season and I believe there will be more players wanting that kind of money (though life in Europe is generally more expensive, starting with $9-$10/gallon for gas). Also (as realgm reports) Olympiacos first approached Deng and wanted to offer him even more money. True, its one of the richest clubs in Europe, but it's still impressive.

My guess is that the next step (if dollar stays low, and it looks like it will) would be to get a real superstar to Europe - something like Dominique Wilkins playing in Greece in 1995-96. Would e.g. Iverson (with an expiring contract next year) turn down a $15M/season offer?

Anonymous Jacek said...
I think that we're forgetting sth. This european clubs budgets are growing.
The old player movement had nothing to do with that.
Recently top European clubs had occasion to grab 12-15 th man from NBA clubs. F.e. Lynn Greer who plays in Olympiakos (he was paid sth about 600k in NBA, and now he's paid 3 mln $). Josh Childress is a sign of progress. The question is how close can they get (to average NBA salary).

ps. dumbgenius season in Europe is closer to 50 or even 60 matches. If you count all league games(30), and national cups(5-10?), and Euroleague games (20). But for sure it's more comfortable.

Anonymous dumbgenius said...
i stand corrected, jacek is correct. its roughly 50-60 matches per season.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
I don't see why some healthy competition should be seen as such a bad thing anyways. It's not like the English Premiership went into a panic over losing Beckham to Spain then the US, and he's a much bigger star than Josh Childress was ever going to be. The NBA is still miles ahead of Euroleague right now, the gap is only slightly smaller now.

Blogger PistonsGirl4Life said...
Honestly IMHO this signing brings up a question FAR FAR FAR more important than "Will other star players run to Europe if the NBA doesn't give them more money"..... That's meaningless compared to "Where exactly does one buy a 'Fro pick in Greece"....

Seriously I doubt Josh's agent even CONSIDERED this...

Blogger Nik said...
Altho I do see a possibility of players jumping ship I think 2 comments are a little out of place.

One Josh Childress is the Highest Paid on paper, but others like Navarro reap much greater benefits from sponsorship deals, media exposure and many other bonus and side payments that only add to their general income, something Childress will see but not as much as say Papaloukas who's a national legend in Greece.

Secondly I don't see European budgets expanding except for the select few in the Euroleague. While CSKA, Khimki, Olympiakos, etc grow others are not only contracting but facing total economic ruination. Askavayu Girona, a major ACB team just shut down entirely. Red Star is about to merge with FMP (both major ULEB teams) because neither has enough cash. And there are a tonne of other examples like that.


Finally why are we making a big deal out of ex-nba players in Europe? I mean so many jumped ship and never returned. But why is noone commenting on the talent that is lost to Europe to start with and is only later "found". Like Anthony Parker who played in Maccabi. Or Ira Newble and Derell Armstrong who played in Cyprus, etc etc...

And why hasn't anyone commented on Kareem Rush who did exactly what Childress is doing last year when he went to Lithuania?

Blogger Kimberly said...
Not freaking out as of the moment. Well do you think the Atlanta Hawks team is going to continue a deal with Maurice Evans?

Blogger Zonker said...
It is kind of funny how now everybody knows CKSA, Olimpiakos, Khimki. All of sudden European basketball is not a complete stranger.

I remember back in 2002, when Peja Stoiakovic and Hedo Turkoglu broke in the NBA with the Kings, I saw an interview with the scout who brought Peja to the Kings. he said "...I saw Peja playing for some Greek team, called PAOK." He called one of the Greek basketball powerhouses "some team." Kind of funny and kind of sad.

Regarding the talent lost to Europe: Dejan Bodiroga decided to stick to Europe because he had all in Europe, he was treated like god, he had it all. (and that's back when the US dollar was strong). Same with Sarunas Jasikevicius and Maceo Baston. Yeah, Sara's stint in the NBA sucked but he is still the shit in Europe. Baston got extremely limited playing time but rarely disappointed with his performance. I would be surprised if he goes back to Europe too.

After the Palace brawl, when the Pacers were trying to fill in their roster, they signed Marcus Haislip, then later on waived him off and I haven't heard from him till I saw an Euroleague highlights compilation on ESPn when the guy featured in 2 or 3 plays of the top plays...

Yeah, the season in Europe is shorter but every game counts. It has a March Madness atmosphere and intensity to it. And you have the European fans...

Blogger Nik said...
At Zonker:

The season is shorter but not by much... e.g. Partizan belgrade played 70 games this past season but you're right each game is much more important...

And secondly its a common fact though that pure Euro shooters don't really survive in the NBA. Sara, Macia, Danilovic, Djordjevic, etc, etc... Only phenomenons like Peja or Drazen Petrovic fight out a position....

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