Kobe Bryant and the Lockout Induced Chinese Adventure

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Right now, the players are losing. Soon enough the checks will stop coming, and players who haven’t landed deals in Europe or other basketball leagues, haven’t saved for a rainy day, aren’t planning on a career change or don’t have some lucrative commercial deal, will be hoping this lockout ends. For players like Kobe Bryant, who is pretty much in a league of his own, times are less troubled.

Kobe Bryant decided to give up on the Turkish plan and won’t join Deron Williams at Besiktas. Not enough money offered. However, the Chinese option looks much better now, financially speaking – Quite a few teams are trying to sign him, with the Shanxi Brave Dragons his strongest pursuers. The offer on the table? Somewhere between 1.5-2 million dollars a month.

Bryant isn’t the only player in talks with Chinese teams – Tony Parker is also on the verge of signing there. According the several agents, there are about six-seven spots with a pay day of 750k a month left, and most teams will pay something around 50-100k for NBA players. All teams will gladly jump on NBA proven centers (with someone like Dwight Howard highly likely to get a huge deal) with point guards and wing men having less of a demand.

But wait – While European teams have been signing mid-level talent on contract knowing that they will bolt right back to the NBA the minute the lockout is over and a new CBA is signed, the Chinese Basketball Association officials are hoping to pass a rule that will eliminate the possibility of an opting out of the contract for NBA players. The season in China lasts till March.

Off the record, several Chinese team owners are saying there are creative ways of working around that proposal. And there’s always the risk of injury – Players who can sign multi million dollar deals, long term, in the NBA when the lockout is over, could get injured while playing for 1 million dollars in Europe or China. Is it really worth it?

The conspiracy theory suggests that the NBA, in close and friendly relations with the Chinese league is pushing for the no-opting out clause. No surprise there. There’s a general feeling that the owners have time and patience while the players, those who won’t get or can’t get decent deals abroad will be demanding an end to this lockout when it enters November or December. Not everyone can juggle lucrative offers like Kobe Bryant or can afford to wait while working on his game with Olajuwon like LeBron James.