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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