We're so glad all this talk about Kobe playing overseas is over. Boy, wasn't that silly? Now that the Besiktas rumors have about a "0 percent chance" according to reports, we can put all this behind us...
From Yahoo! Sports:
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, and one source said it’s unlikely Bryant would accept any deal that pays him less than $1.5 million per month. Bryant would be free to rejoin the Lakers as soon as the lockout ends.via Bryant mulling offers to play in China - NBA - Yahoo! Sports.
Bryant, a source close to him said, also has become irritated with Besiktas officials making public proclamations on the status of talks with him.
While everyone is going to remain skeptical of Bryant playing anywhere during the lockout due to a multitude of reasons, this report should be given some weight. China is an untapped market with Yao Ming out of the picture, and Bryant has a huge earning potential. It's arguable that he would have better sponsorship opportunities in China than in Turkey, despite his sponsorship deal with Turkish Airlines. Meanwhile, Bryant's camp will continue to play it close to the vest.
For a look at what kind of sponsors are involved in China, UPS invested in the firm due to its 600 million viewership. Nike obviously has a huge investment there. Meanwhile, Yao's sponsorship money was recently pegged at $150 million in China. Kobe is actually a bigger star there, believe it or not. Is that really not worth what would likely be a four-game investment?
There is one considerable hiccup. CBA blog NIUBBall.com links a report that states China is considering rule changes to limit NBA players' availability overseas and more importantly.... to not allow opt-outs to return to the NBA if the season resumes.
Earlier this afternoon, Sina Sports, quoting an anonymous figure connected to the CBA, reported that the Chinese Basketball Association is planning to institute two special new rules for next season in response to the ever-growing list of NBA players who have declared interest towards playing in China: First, teams will not be allowed to include an out-clause into any contract with an active NBA player and second, that each team will be allowed to sign only one active NBA player.via NiuBBall.com » CBA won’t allow active NBA players to sign out-clauses?.
Said the anonymous source, ”The CBA isn’t the NBA’s backyard. If we didn’t make a rule about players playing here temporarily, then they’d all just leave in the middle of the season. That would affect our season greatly.”
As of yet, the CBA has not responded to the story. Any official announcement over new CBA rules is unlikely to come before the league’s committee convenes for a policy meeting in August.
That could put a major limitation on Bryant's availability. Okay, no, that would end his involvement without quetion. But anyone who thinks that the CBA will build in rules to prevent Kobe Bryant from being involved, which would help the league, its teams, and basketball in the country, is out of their minds. Bryant gets to determine how much, where, and when he plays. That's the advantage of being the most popular player in the world's most populous country.
Meanwhile, we'll keep playing the "We'll believe it when we see it" card.