While his former teammates struggle to find a way to deal with Dwight Howard, Vince Carter and the rest of the Orlando Magic, Josh Childress is basking in the limelight in Paris.
His team, Olympiacos, is in the EuroLeague Final Four taking place this weekend in the city of lights. He is a key part of the Greek squad that is one of the favorites, averaging 15 points a game (behind only former Nugget Linas Kleiza).
But when the game ends Childress has a decision to make — does he opt out of the third year of his deal and return to the United States, or does he stay one more year in Greece. The Washington Post caught up with him in Paris and from those close to him it sounds like he is coming home.
Childress has an opt-out clause in his contract that will allow him to return to the NBA this summer with no penalty or buyout. That, naturally, has led to rampant speculation in basketball-mad Greece that he’ll be back in the States this fall. Greek journalists interviewed here were virtually unanimous in predicting that he will.
The Hawks maintain the rights to the 6’8″ swingman, who was the key sixth man on an emerging Hawks team a couple years ago.
Atlanta has played hardball with those rights. The Hawks followed the pattern of a lot of NBA teams, low-balling offers to restricted free agents. 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.
Olympiacos changed that dynamic for Childress. With Atlanta trying to lowball him Childress took off for Greece, for a three-year, $20 million deal (where the team takes care of his taxes, housing, car and more). The Stanford-educated Childress jumped at it.
“Listen — it’s been an excellent two years,” he said. “It’s been a growing experience, yes, but I never saw this as a temporary fix. I thought of it as a three-year deal, and it could very well end that way.”
After watching the first two games against Orlando, don’t you think the Hawks could use some more depth, a quality swingman off the bench? The real question is, how much are they willing to pay for that. We’ll know by July 15, when Childress needs to tell his Greek team what he is doing next season.