That's what NBA executives have been hearing a lot of this off-season. It seems like every time you turn around, you read about someone shunning the chance to be a role player on an NBA team for money and a chance to be the main guy overseas. They trade BBQ in Georgia for Borscht in Russia, and that my friends, is a bad trade. Beets just aren't that good. Here's a list of guys I know have already decided to jump ship to Europe (enjoy the hairy chicks, guys):
Juan Carlos Navarro-Spain
Now, none of those guys are All-Stars of even future All-Stars, but Childress and Pargo were valuable sixth men last year. Why would they leave the NBA, which is clearly the best league in the world, to go play in Europe? The answer is simple: Money. Euorpean teams are throwing boatloads of cash at these guys. While the contracts may be smaller in total dollars, the teams in Europe usually pay a player's taxes, buy him a house, and a car. All he has to do is pay for food. And Borscht is cheap. When it all adds up, the players are thinking that the perks, plus a chance to be the main man, are worth the move. In Childress' case, he can leave Greece after any season to return to the NBA. (You would think he is waiting for 09-10 when many, many teams have salary cap space to throw around.)
This raises the big question: When is a true, big name star going to make the jump for some obscene amount of money? Will it be LeBron going for 50 million per season, as he hinted at last week? How could he pass up that kind of money? I don't care how rich you are, 50 million per is a lot of cheese. If you made 50 million per year, I think you could literally whipe your butt with money and not even worry about it, if you were so inclined.
I'm surprised that it has taken this long for Europe to start raiding the US talent pool. The Euro has been gaining value against the dollar for awhile now, and the offer of stardom has to entice the lesser known NBA players. I hope that this trend doesn't continue, but with the NBA Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) being how it is, the teams have handcuffed themselves by capping how much they can offer a star. If the Lakers are restricted to offering Kobe Bryant a 6 year 140 million dollar contract, and an Italian team can offer him 10 years, 450 million, how could he not jump ship? See, that's the problem with the CBA. The big name players agreed to take less money to help all the other players (veterans, rookies and mid level players). How long will they continue to accept less with huge dollars on the board across the pond. My guess is not long. Magnanimity runs short among athletes it seems.
It remains to be seen if the top Euro teams can come up with that kind of money, and if a big-time player would give up his NBA legacy to go play in Europe, but wouldn't it suck if it happened? Please, Heavenly Father, don't let it happen.