Headline International Basketball

Brandon Jennings. Josh Childress. Who Is Next?

I have discussed it as a guest on various radio shows, have thrown the idea back and forth among my colleagues, and have written about it on this blog: Will going overseas to play basketball become more of a common occurrence among some of basketball’s great players? When foreign born players decide to stay overseas after NBA teams have shown enough interest to select them in the NBA Draft (see: Fran Vasquez, Rudy Fernandez, Tiago Splitter, Goran Dragic, etc) and American born ballers give up NBA offer sheets that exceed thirty million dollars in favor of playing in Europe, I would have to say that cable companies better start negotiating with European television stations to air games from the top leagues.

For years, players who could not cut it in the NBA or NBDL decided to go overseas and collect a larger paycheck than if they were to try to make it with a Continental Basketball League (CBL) or International Basketball League (IBL), to name a few lower class American leagues.  Now, many players consider the NBDL to be an afterthought.  An athlete who can make it in the NBDL and does not mind relocating to a country across the Atlantic or Pacific ocean will often make a much larger salary, as long as the foreign team makes good on its contract.  But who would have thought that players would start picking foreign leagues over an NBA career?

Brandon Jennings did not have much of a choice.  He could not enter the NBA Draft, being that he had not yet been one year out of high school.  He also did not have the requisite scores to enroll in The University of Arizona, even though coach Lute Olsen continues to cry foul about the whole situation.  Jennings is a pioneer, though.  He will be going overseas for a year and will tear apart the one-and-done rule if he succeeds in his short stint in Rome.  If Jennings is a pioneer, then Josh Childress and to a lesser extent, Bostjan Nachbar, are revolutionaries.

Josh Childress has left the red and white of the Atlanta Hawks for the red and white of Olympiakos S.F.P. Pireus, also known as Olympiakos for short.  He joins a team headlined by Yotam Halperin (a tremendous baller from Israel) and Papaloukas Theodoros from Greece.  Olympiakos has made the Euroleague Quarterfinals for the past three years and are hoping that Childress will make the team more competitive, earning them a spot in the Euroleague Championship Game.  Why not go from an Atlanta Hawks team that cannot get past the first round of the playoffs to an international team that constantly has itself in the running for the championship?  Additionally, after taxes, Childress will make $20 million over three years and may opt out of the deal after any year.  For a young guy, why not take the offer, play for a competitive team, and enjoy a few years of your life abroad?

“I’ve talked to a few guys, and it could become a trend,” Childress said on a conference call about other Americans following his lead. “I’m not so sure it won’t. It’s different. We thought out of the box a little on this one.”

And what about the strength of the Euro versus the American Dollar?  That could lead more players to follow Josh Childress to foreign destinations.  Darren Rovell thinks so, and also accurately notes that, the NBA is made up of Josh Childresses.  LeBron James will not be wearing Maccabi Tel Aviv’s jersey any time soon, but I could definitely see a player like Ben Gordon getting upset with coming off the bench and going overseas for more money.

By Darren Heitner

Darren Heitner created Sports Agent Blog as a New Year's Resolution on December 31, 2005. Originally titled, "I Want To Be A Sports Agent," the website was founded with the intention of causing Heitner to learn more about the profession that he wanted to join, meet reputable individuals in the space and force himself to stay on top of the latest news and trends.

Heitner now runs Heitner Legal, P.L.L.C., which is a law firm with many practice areas, including sports law and contract law. Heitner has represented numerous athletes and sports agents as legal counsel. He has also served as an Adjunct Professor at Indiana University Bloomington from 2011-2014, where he created and taught a course titled, Sport Agency Management, which included subjects ranging from NCAA regulations to athlete agent certification and the rules governing the profession. Heitner serves as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Florida Levin College of Law, where he teaches a Sports Law class that includes case law surrounding athlete agents and the NCAA rules.

8 replies on “Brandon Jennings. Josh Childress. Who Is Next?”

Can’t really say who’s going to be next. However, I do foresee most high school graduates doing the Europe thing for a year. Childress and Jennings’ situations are fundamentally different in that Childress is shunning the NBA while Jennings doesn’t even have the opportunity to play in the League.

Not sure if you saw this or not but the LA Times is reporting that Lakers guard Sasha Vujacic might leave the team to go play in Europe…I don’t really have a problem with players doing this, if it’s the right business decision for them. I think you could at least see players threatening to go to Europe and using this as another chip at the bargaining table.

Good for you Josh for keeping your optional open and understanding that Americans and particularly African-Americans have additional choices in their lives. For a long time the NBA and USA sports have pride themselves on being the best and most sought organizations on the face of this earth, however this all seems to be changing. With an economy in decline and Euros value now on the rise, living in other countries are real choices for everyone. Secondly, since the NBA has taken a position that will limit players coming out of high school to play professional basketball, having the opportunity to play of overseas gives players the realizations of their goals that they can continue their career. Again, I personally believe this would benefit African-American players who previous may thought that playing or living overseas was a dream itself. Additional of working and living overseas are lower to no tax, free housing, education for dependents and free medical benefits.

Dr. Darius Norton Cooper, NCC, LPC, Is the Founder of Reality & Resolution Professional Counseling Services, “A design for the mental health treatment of professional athletes, celebrities and entertainers” 1-888-673-3330

Also keep in mind that the overseas game grew BECAUSE of the American players who went there in the 70’s and 80’s. Bob McAdoo, Joe Bryant, and Dominque Wilkins are names that first come to mind. The fact that players are going overseas are not a new trend nor is high school players going overseas. I think the fuss is the fact that the “talking heads” on Sports radio didn’t realize you could get paid that much overseas. Anybody who follows the womens game would know that.

The womens game is not a great comparison with the mens salary wise, as the WNBA is only four months long. Almost all of those women in the WNBA play overseas the other 8 months in foreign leagues. The foreign leagues even have rules that only only 2 Americans per team.
Salaries can not be compared when the leagues and lenghts are copletely different.

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