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Kobe Bryant's management released a statement alongside Virtus Bologna, saying that both parties are working "very intensely" to send the star to Italy. According to Bologna president Claudio Sabatini, a tentative 10-game, $3 million deal has been reached with Kobe's agent Rob Pelinka. Here's Sabatini:
"Everyone wants a positive outcome to the deal, the goal of which is Kobe Bryant's presence in Italy, economic interests for the 17 clubs in Serie A and more attention for all of Italian basketball."
The only thing holding up the deal at the moment is a scheduling issue. Bologna wants to have at least five home games during Kobe's 10-game stint, and try to book the biggest arenas they can for away matches. Such reshuffling obviously requires a lot of cooperation from smaller clubs who probably aren't too thrilled with the move.
Bryant must have a deal signed by the end of the week to be eligible for the Serie A season opener against Roma on Sunday.
Kobe Bryant is still working on a deal to play with Virtus Bologna of Italy during the NBA lockout despite major hurdles, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports. Earlier Friday, Bologna's president told the media that the club and Kobe were 95 percent done with a deal, but later reports put the deal in peril as the Italian league refused to alter its schedule to allow Virtus to get Kobe for the right number of games.
But Wojnarowski reports that Bryant and Bologna are willing to share in the financial windfall the L.A. Lakers' star's arrival in Italy if it convinces the league to make schedule changes. Woj indicates that Kobe's camp has been working directly with the league, and that Bologna's bombastic president Claudio Sabatini has been making things more difficult.
Bryant would be the highest-profile player to sign overseas during the lockout. Deron Williams was the first to pull the trigger, signing with Besiktas of Turkey in July.
Kobe Bryant came to a verbal agreement with Italian club Virtus Bologna to play 10 games in 40 days for $3 million dollars early Friday morning. Fast forward just a few hours later, however, and it seems that the deal reported to be "95 percent done" has already fallen apart.
Virtus Bologna apparently was unable to get the league they play in, Lega Serie A, to drastically alter their schedule. The plan was to optimize its schedule in order to allow Bryant to play in as many games as possible during his weirdly specific contract, but the league has shot that down, according to a report from Sportando Basket.
Italian Serie A plays one game per week, usually on Sunday, but Virtus asked to play also in the middle of the week and against the most important clubs to have a huge share and more tickets sold in the biggest arenas. Today Legabasket rejected the proposal to make special schedules for Virtus.
This is obviously a developing report, but it looks like it might be a little while longer until the Los Angeles Lakers' superstar officially signs to play somewhere overseas during the NBA lockout. If these reports stand, it would be the third time it seemed like Bryant was close to playing abroad -- first in China, then in Turkey -- before something fell through at the last minute.
Hopefully the lockout just ends this weekend so the will he or won't he discussions don't keep happening over the next few months.
Kobe Bryant has reportedly signed a deal to play for Virtus Bologna in Italy, just as NBA lockout talks reach a critical point. What interesting timing!
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Kobe Bryant has been at the center of rumors for months now, but according to a new report from Rome, he's verbally agreed to play for Virtus Bologna in Italy during the NBA Lockout. As the Associated Press reports, the club president, Claudio Sabatini, told a local radio station, "We have reached an economic deal. There's still some things to arrange but at this point I'm very optimistic. I would say it's 95 percent done."
As he continued, Sabatini said:
"Kobe should be in Bologna by Wednesday or Thursday with his visa in hand for medical visits and then we can deposit the contract with the league. I want to make clear that right now there are still no signatures. We've got to write the contract, which will then be read over and over again."
An anonymous source with the team said that the initial deal with the team would be worth $3 million for the first 40 days of the season. It's worth noting that Kobe's been close to signing with foreign teams before, so going from 95 percent to 100 percent is easier said than done.
Nonetheless, if Kobe's verbally agreed, then he's closer than ever to finally making the leap overseas, and doing it in the country where he was raised. As he said earlier this week during a promotional tour in Italy, "Italy's my home. It's where my dream of playing in the NBA started." And now it looks like the dream may come full circle.
You can read the initial AP report here, and we'll keep you updated as more news emerges.
Kobe Bryant is getting ever closer to signing in Italy, apparently. The latest reports indicate that Italian team Virtus Bologna and the Los Angeles Lakers' All-Star have a conference call in the works.
Bryant's agent, Rob Pelinka, "responded" to Virtus Bologna's offer from earlier in the week, according to a release posted on the team's website. It's unclear what sort of response Pelinka issued regarding the $6.7 million offer from the Italian team, but the fact that there's a conference call planned is probably good news for the fans in Italy hoping to watch the Black Mamba ply his trade in Europe this season.
And yes, there are apparently plenty of fans in Italy hoping for Bryant to return to the country in which he spent a decent portion of his formative years -- The team has even set up an e-mail for those fans interested in helping secure Bryant's services (translation via Google Translate).
We call on all white fans and enthusiasts to help us bring in Bologna an ambassador of basketball in the world such as Kobe Bryant, convincing him directly with your email messages to be sent to BolognaPerBryant@virtus.it. All your calls will be published on our website.
If it works, I am ready to set up the EndTheNBALockout@sbnation.com e-mail for everyone to help us end the NBA lockout.
Kobe Bryant playing overseas has been mentioned numerous times during the NBA lockout, but every time there seems to be some sort of hurdle that gets in the way. The latest offer, coming from Italy, seems to be a deal that might have some traction.
Italian club Virtus Bologna has offered the Los Angeles Lakers' superstar $6.7 million to play in the country where Bryant spent the formative years of his life, according to a report from the Associated Press. The team has already inked Chris Douglas-Roberts for the upcoming season.
Massimo Faraoni, the team's general manager, told the AP that he's been on conference calls between Bryant's agent, Rob Pelinka, Bologna president Claudio Sabatini and main sponsor Canadian Solar, which would provide payment to Bryant.
Virtus has given Bryant four different contract options, stretching from the one-year deal to two-month and one-month options, and a per-game deal that would come out to $739,640 per home game.
Considering Bryant speaks French and is familiar with the country, this is probably the most realistic deal currently on the table. That doesn't mean we are any closer to seeing the Black Mamba playing a season outside of America, but at the very least, it's still an option worth keeping an eye on as the lockout progresses.
Virtus Bologna has announced that it is speaking with Rob Pelinka, the agent for Kobe Bryant, in an effort to bring the L.A. Lakers' superstar back to Italy should the NBA lockout remain unresolved. Via Kevin Ding, the Italian club announced on its website that management will speak to Pelinka on Thursday.
Kobe's camp has spoken with at least one other club, as talks with Turkish side Besiktas -- which signed Deron Williams of the New Jersey Nets in July -- dragged on for a couple weeks. But the Besiktas deal fell through, and chatter about Kobe playing overseas died down.
Virtus Bologna last week signed free agent Chris Douglas-Roberts, last of the Milwaukee Bucks and previously of the Nets, to a deal. As was the case with Besiktas, the team is looking for sponsors to pick up the tab for Kobe, at least in part. Bryant spent a chunk of his childhood in Italy while his father, Joe Bryant, played professionally with Mike D'Antoni and others. Kobe is speaks fluent Italian.
Kobe Bryant did not attend a meeting with officials from the Turkish team Besiktas in Los Angeles on Thursday, reports Turkish TV reporter Ismail Senol. But Bryant's agent Rob Pelinka did, and Senol reports that the meeting was "positive." The two camps will meet again on Friday.
According to club sources, Besiktas-Pelinka meeting was positive. Kobe wasn't there. Club made an official offer. Today they'll meet again.
Last weekend while attending a charity soccer game in Washington, D.C., Kobe downplayed the potential of playing for Besiktas, which has already signed New Jersey Nets point guard Deron Williams. But the Lakers' star has said he'll play anywhere during the NBA lockout if the right deal can be struck, and it's unlikely his agent -- who has a number of other high-profile clients, including Andre Iguodala -- would be taking meetings with Besiktas if a deal were not remotely possible.
Kobe had previously been reported to be demanding $1 million per month to play overseas, but that might be low. Reports out of China suggest that the top NBA players could draw up to $2 million per month in the Middle Kingdom.
The Kobe Bryant to Turkey rumors have seemed dead about seven times since the NBA lockout began, but Beşiktaş -- the team that is courting him -- won't go down without a fight. A very public fight, including letting the media know its every move, apparently.
The latest report is that Bryant and agent Rob Pelinka will meet Beşiktaş team president Yıldırım Demirören on Thursday, according to Ismail Senol of Turkish NBA TV. This despite previous reports to the contrary, like the one from Yahoo! Sports Marc Spears, that said there was "no chance that Bryant would take his talents to Turkey."
This latest meeting doesn't necessarily mean anything, but it's obvious that the Los Angeles Lakers All-Star and Pelinka know they would be wise not to turn down a meeting with a man willing to pay someone one million dollars per month to play basketball. Especially, of course, while the NBA has its players locked out for the foreseeable future.
Either way, it'll be interesting to see if Bryant and Pelinka change their minds about heading to Turkey following Thursday's meeting or if it's just another quick twist in the story before another reports says that there's still no chance Bryant joins Deron Williams in Beşiktaş.
The Chinese Basketball Association could rule to block all contracts with NBA players that include a lockout opt-out, reports ESPN's Marc Stein. China's Sina Sports first reported the potential rule over the weekend, and Stein said his sources confirm the potential for the rule.
China was seen as a top option for locked-out NBA stars looking to make money, expand their brand and put some pressure on NBA owners to compromise for a new collective bargaining agreement. Kobe Bryant is said to be considering several Chinese offers, ones that this new rule would thwart.
A few players, led by Deron Williams and Nicolas Batum, have signed contracts in Europe that will allow the players to return to the NBA if the lockout ends midseason. The Chinese rule would block those clauses from being inserted in contracts in the CBA.
Stein reports that the reason for the rule is that Chinese government officials are worried the CBA would become a circus with short-term rentals, no matter how popular the stars are. China would instead prefer to focus attention on the nation's homegrown stars in advance of the 2012 London Olympics.
Interestingly enough, retired NBA megalith Yao Ming owns a CBA team, the Shanghai Sharks.
On Sunday, we learned that Kobe Bryant's flirtation with Besiktas of Turkey had ended. But in the immediate aftermath, Marc Spears and Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports reported that Kobe is mulling offers from teams in China.
Bryant, sources said, is still listening to offers to play overseas during the NBA's lockout, and considers China a more likely option. He has exchanged proposals with Chinese teams.
What's Kobe looking for? Roughly $1.5 million per month, which is a sturdy chunk of cash for a mid-rung league. It's unclear how willing to negotiate Chinese Basketball Association teams (or the league itself) are, and whether Kobe could be paid by sponsors as was rumored to be the case for Besiktas. (Deron Williams, who signed with Besiktas, will be paid by a sponsor.)
It's worth noting that now-retired Yao Ming, who has made a great deal of money in NBA salary and endorsements, owns the Shanghai Sharks of the CBA. It'll be interesting to see whether he gets involved for the wooing of NBA stars to China.
Remember all of that talk about Kobe Bryant going to play with Besiktas in Turkey? Well, the story today is that it's not going to happen.
Of course, this story will almost certainly change a couple of more times before Bryant signs with a foreign basketball team or says definitively that he's not going anywhere, but as of today, a move to Besiktas looks unlikely.
According to NBA writer Marc Spears of Yahoo!, Bryant's camp hasn't spoken to Besiktas recently and probably won't be holding serious talks any time soon. Actually, according to Spears, Bryant's camp isn't talking to "Besitas," but that's probably just a typo.
Source says @Lakers Kobe Bryant hasnt talked to Turkey Besistas in 2 weeks & currently there is a 0% chance he goes there, Y! Sports reportsless than a minute ago via Twitter for BlackBerry® Favorite Retweet ReplyMarc J. Spears
There's no way that there's actually a zero percent chance that Kobe goes to Besiktas until Kobe Bryant himself says "I am absolutely not going to Besiktas," but a move is now looking extremely unlikely.
However, don't fret, people who want to see Kobe play basketball this year! No one has put a total squash on the talks of his move to a Chinese team quite yet. Don't count on it, though.
Kobe Bryant will attend a meeting with his representatives and officials from Besiktas, the club in Turkey that has already signed Deron Williams, reports Reuters (via ESPN L.A.). Previous reports indicated that Kobe's camp and Besiktas officials would meet July 30, but whether Bryant himself would attend was a mystery. That he will take the meeting indicates a level of seriousness to the situation.
If Kobe were to reach an agreement to play overseas during the NBA lockout, which is in its 29th day, it would be seen as a major coup for the players' union, which has encouraged its members to seek deals.
Besiktas' season begins in late September as the team is participating in the continental Eurocup competition, the second-tier interleague competition in Europe. Besiktas also plays in the Turkish league, with that competition beginning shortly thereafter. Williams will reportedly arrive in Istanbul for training camp in late August, provided the NBA lockout hasn't been resolved.
Representatives of Kobe Bryant will meet with officials from Besiktas, a club in Turkey that has already signed Deron Williams to play during the NBA lockout, on July 30, according to a report quoting one of said Besiktas officials (via PBT). Rumors have tied Bryant, the Los Angeles Lakers' former MVP, to Besiktas for weeks, though much of that has seemed like overwhelming enthusiasm from the club and willing flirtation from Kobe's camp.
Reports have suggested Kobe would command $1 million per month to play with a foreign club during the ongoing NBA lockout. The official quoted Monday says that money won't be an issue, as sponsorships can be covered by Turkish Airlines (which already has Kobe as an endorser), M-Oil and Milan Petrol.
Besiktas' season begins at the end of September, and Williams is reportedly slated to arrive in Istanbul for training camp at the end of August, if the lockout hasn't ended. While Williams' deal sent shockwaves through the NBA, no big names have yet followed him overseas, and adding someone the stature of Kobe -- other than Michael Jordan, the most famous basketball personality in the world right now -- would seemingly put immense pressure on the NBA to come to the table and bargain with players.
Kobe Bryant playing in Turkey next season seems to be becoming more of a possibility each day, at least if the NBA lockout continues to prevent him from playing for the Los Angeles Lakers. The latest rumors, according to the head coach of Turkish team Besiktas, indicates that talks are even further along than previously indicated.
Besiktas Coach Ergin Ataman, quickly becoming an American media darling as he's been quoted by nearly every outlet imaginable since his team signed New Jersey Nets point guard Deron Williams, talked to the Los Angeles Times on Thursday regarding a timeline regarding his team's courting of Kobe.
"We made our offer to Kobe and now we are waiting for their comments about the situation," Ataman said. "But we didn't talk about details. I think they are thinking now about our offer, and I think in the beginning of August, the first week of August, our president [Yildirim Demiroren] will be in the United States for Deron Williams' press conference and I think that they will meet to sign in USA with Kobe."
When that meeting takes place, Ataman seems optimistic that Bryant will see the light and sign with Besiktas.
"Yes, we feel Kobe will sign with us," Ataman said. "We feel because Besiktas is a very good club, very famous club. At this moment, after the United States, Turkey is in the best league in Europe. Besiktas has great fans. I think it is positive. So we are very optimistic about Kobe to sign."
Eternally optimistic, as has been the case with Ataman, he doesn't even foresee issues with Bryant asking for $1 million per month after the club originally offered half of that.
"We are negotiating about this," Ataman said. "This amount is very, very big for Europe in this situation. But I think that we find a solution to arrive to be happy and to have a happy Kobe for the money. But the main thing I think will be that Kobe will come here to play basketball with Deron Williams to stay in shape, to take good money and to play basketball.
"The first option is the money. Of course, it is not impossible to take."
It seems the team will probably need to come up with the money, regardless of Bryant's interest in playing with a fellow NBA All-Star, but Ataman is doing a pretty good job of marketing his team regardless.
Now, the question is if anything will come to fruition following the August meeting.
Kobe Bryant is still being pursued by Turkey despite asking for a salary worth $1 million per month, according to the latest reports. It's just going to take a bit of creative financing for Besiktas to suit up two NBA All-Stars next season if the lockout continues.
The team that has already signed New Jersey Nets point guard Deron Williams for the upcoming season told the Associated Press that there is still interest in Bryant, and a bit surprisingly, Bryant and his team is still interested as well.
"It is a fact that Kobe Bryant's managers have contacted us," coach Ergin Ataman said Thursday, a week after Besiktas signed New Jersey Nets point guard Deron Williams.
Ataman's team is currently working to be able to pay Bryant's demand million-per-month salary, but they will have to find a high-level sponsor in order to be able to pay enough to lure the Lakers star to Europe. If the team isn't able to find enough sponsorship money to lure Bryant, Ataman told the AP that representatives of other NBA players also have contacted Besiktas.
The Turkish team Besiktas has officially placed a hold on their pursuit of Los Angeles Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant, according to overseas reports. As of Monday night, Turkey's NTV Sport reported that the team's available basketball funds have been siphoned off by a match-fixing scandal that is tearing across the Turkish soccer landscape.
Any further acquisitions by Besiktas will be reliant on procuring an affluent new team sponsor, according to NTV Sport. Though, Bryant's sponsorship through Turkish Airlines does add an interesting outside caveat to the discussions.
Before the onset of the scandal, the Turkish club was in talks for a contract that would pay Bryant a monthly salary of $500,000. However, the Lakers' All-Star was said to have been holding out for an estimated salary of $1 million per month.
Ever since Deron Williams announced he'd be playing professional basketball in Turkey if there's no NBA next season, Kobe Bryant has been rumored to be interested in doing the same. The catch? Kobe will cost a lot more money.
According to ESPN's Mark Stein, the Turkish club Besitkas has offered Kobe a salary of $500,000-per-month to come overseas should the NBA Lockout stretch into the 2011-2012 season. And Kobe's interested, too, but as a Turkish outlet reports, he wants double the money. Indeed, if Kobe's going to play overseas, he wants $1,000,000-per-month. While that may seem like an unreasonable figure, it's considerably less than he'd earn in America. What's more, Kobe's demands haven't deterred his suitors. If anything, this just calls for some creative financing.
To sign Kobe successfully, the money would likely have to come from a third party who would sponsor the contract. Like, say, the Turkish Airlines corporation that's already paying Kobe a hefty sum to be the face of their marketing campaign? It's certainly a possibility...
Kobe Bryant was nearly a teammate of Deron Williams next season. Not on USA Basketball at the 2012 London Olympics or even the New Jersey Nets, though -- Bryant was nearing a deal to sign with Williams' team in Turkey.
The Los Angeles Lakers star was nearing a deal with Besiktas for $450,000 per month, according to Jonathan Givony of Draft Express, but recent issues with the club's soccer team has put all signings on hold for the time being.
Bryant is probably better off not heading overseas considering his knee injury issues, but the fact that two NBA All-Stars could have been teaming up for a team in Turkey next season rather than the NBA has to make the owners wonder if the NBA lockout is truly worth what they're trying to accomplish.
If the best NBA players are still able to make enough money to comfortably live -- and I would venture to say $450,000 per month isn't terrible -- who is really going to be hurt by the lockout aside from the fans? It seems the top players are finding ample opportunities to take their talents across the ocean.
Kobe Bryant was rumored to be a possible target of the Turkish team Deron Williams plans to play for during the NBA lockout. That doesn’t seem like the Lakers’ stars best option, however, according to Williams.
Williams does believe Bryant, along with quite a few other stars, will go to Europe if the owners get what they want in the new Collective Bargaining Agreement.
"(Kobe) could go make more money overseas, I guarantee you," Williams told ESPN’s Chris Broussard. "If (European teams) knew he could be there for a full season, or they knew I could be there for a full season, or they knew LeBron James could be there for a full season, they’ll pay more money, of course."
Unlike his deal with Besiktas, however, Williams believes Bryant — his teammate on the USA’s 2008 Beijing Olympics entry — would be better served in China.
"I see him going to China or somewhere," Williams went on to say in the ESPN article. "He’s big in China. I was over there with him in Beijing. He’s ‘The Man’ over there."
It’s interesting that Williams doesn’t seem to be luring Bryant to Turkey with him, but there are apparently plenty of other big name players considering a jump to Europe now that Williams has made his plans known.
"I’ve talked to a lot of players, you would be surprised," Williams said. "I talked to a few before and I knew some guys were considering it as well. But since it came out, it was just like a snowball of guys calling me (saying) ‘What are you doing? When are you leaving?’ And guys want to go too. They want to do it."
It seems basketball fans are getting closer and closer to needing to order a Euroleague Pass next season if watching the best basketball in the world is the goal.
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