Tag: NBA in Europe

Olympiacos' Josh Childress (C) shots bet

Suns’ Childress doesn’t get NBA players talking Europe


Josh Childress has been there — when the Atlanta Hawks tried to lowball him, he took a three-year deal to go play for Olympiacos in Greece. Childress has played at Europe in his prime.

He has done what everyone is talking about. He sees a lot of guys — Ty Lawson is the latest, joining Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant and others — saying they are open to playing in Europe during the NBA lockout. Deron Williams has a deal to play in Turkey if the lockout lasts into September (and it very likely will).

Childress doesn’t get it. He has four years, $27 million left on his NBA deal and he wouldn’t risk it heading back to Europe. He told that to ESPN’s Ric Bucher (on the site’s pay-per-view Insider):

“No, I wouldn’t,” he says. “And I don’t know why guys would. I understand that guys really want to play. But you sometimes have to look at what you have and treat this as a business. The only way I could see it making sense is if you’re a player from a particular country going back. But for an American player with a good-sized guaranteed deal here, I can’t see why you’d do it.”

The risk is losing out on your deal if you get injured. Williams has two years, $34 million on his deal and is gearing up to opt out of the last year of his deal to get a huge free agent payday (from the Nets or someone else). If he were to suffer a major injury playing in Europe — where the game is allowed to be more physical than in the NBA — he risks all of it. NBA teams can void a contract if a player is injured playing in Europe. But even if he comes back from that injury he may not make near what he would have made before.

NBA contracts cannot be voided if a player is injured playing in a pickup game or in Summer League. Go read Bucher’s well done piece, he goes into it in detail, but the bottom line is every standard NBA contract has a clause that lets players play in the summer in training for the next season. Things like Summer League, pickup games and pro-ams are included on the list of things allowed.

Playing in Europe is not. Barnstorming tours of China are not.

Europe makes sense for Sasha Vujacic or Sonny Weems, guys who were free agents and will make close to their NBA salaries in Europe. Where they know there will be a season.

For stars it is different. It’s a risk — one NBA players with guaranteed deals are taking to make a fraction of their current deal. Childress doesn’t get it. A lot of agents don’t either. Which is why despite players talking big about the idea, when it comes time to sign you will not see many actually put pen to paper.

Childress also adds that it is commercial flights, not five-star hotels and a very different system in Europe than America.

“Here the stars run the show,” Childress says. “Over there it’s the coach, and the coach only. You really have to buy into the system. The style of play is slower, a lot closer to a college style. It’s a lot less reliant on talent and more on tactics and execution. They definitely have a high opinion of how they play the game and view NBA basketball as street ball. You go over there, you’re playing against everyone — other players, fans, referees, everyone. You don’t get calls because you’re stronger, faster and more athletic, so they think you should be able to take it.”

Rockets draftee Motiejunas sees lockout, will stay in Europe

USA v Lithuania - 2009 FIBA U19 World Championship
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This was one of the reasons you saw a lot of teams drafting international players in this year’s draft.

Rockets first round pick Donatas Motiejunas has gotten a look at the NBA lockout situation and decided to stay and develop for another year in Italy, according to the Houston Chronicle.

Motiejunas expects to accept an offer from Benetton Treviso to resume his career there for the duration of the NBA lockout and perhaps through next season….

“I still have a contract with Benetton,” said Motiejunas, the 20th player taken in the NBA draft. “They told me if I want to leave in the middle of the season when the team that took me, Houston, wants me, they would let me go. That will be no problem.

“That’s why I’m happy, and a little bit sad. The situation is very tough right now. I don’t really want to go away from the team. I’m not happy about that. That was one of the greatest things that happened in my life, that this team picked me.”

A lot of European clubs are expected to offer similar contracts to guys drafted this season, and the guys will take them. Better to play and develop in a quality league than to sit around and play Halo 3 while eating Doritos. Don’t be shocked if Motiejunas and others actually are asked to teams to spend the entire season in Europe and then come over if it is a shortened NBA season.

Motiejunas is a 7’0” center out of Lithuania who is right out of central casting for stereotypical European big man — good outside shot with three point range but not going to play much in the paint for you. He could develop into a valuable stretch four in the NBA. But for now he will do that developing in Italy.