With the looming lockout on the horizon, a lot of NBA players (and their agents) are looking at Europe and saying, “I could do that.”
But the one big NBA name already there — former Hawk Josh Childress — is thinking about coming back. Maybe the league’s best sixth man — an athletic and fun-to-watch swingman — spurned Atlanta to play for Olympiacos two seasons ago. He’ll probably stay, but told the USA Today he’d listen to offers. The problem is, the economics that caused him to leave have not changed.
Childress can opt out of his contract with Olympiacos after this season but would be a restricted free agent with Atlanta. Or he can sign a qualifying offer from the Hawks for one year and become a free agent in 2011 or sign a longer deal with the Hawks if they offer one. Childress also can sign an offer sheet with another team, but Atlanta can match it. Or he can return to Greece for the final year of his contract.
He has until July 15 to let Olympiacos know his decision.
“It’s going to come down to getting information quickly and weighing my options and making a quick decision,” Childress said.
Atlanta did, and continued to, play hardball with Childress. Often, teams lowball players they have as a restricted free agent they like. The theory is that they can get him to sign their offer for less because other teams will not make an offer assuming it would just get matched. So the player ends up with the one low offer and nothing else of substance.
Enter Olympiacos. When he felt Atlanta was trying to lowball him Childress took off for Greece, where he earns about $6 million a year (after taxes), had his car and other living, expenses picked up by the team, and he gets to live in Athens. Not bad. But still, if you grow up in the United States you dream of playing in the NBA for the Larry O’Brien trophy, not in the Greek islands, no matter how beautiful.
Childress said he is likely to play one more year in Greece, where he is averaging 14 points per game.
But it would be good to have him back. With Joe Johnson’s future in Atlanta in question, they could use him. And his game. And his dolmades recipe.