NBA Rumors: Kobe Bryant and 5 Stars Who May Be Headed Overseas
The NBA lockout is imminent and players are becoming disgruntled by the second. With the possibility of having no NBA season next year, big-time NBA superstars are weighing their options and deciding whether or not to make the big move overseas.
We've already seen players like Hilton Armstrong and Nenad Krstic make the move. Will a big-name superstar be next to abandon the league for some definite money?
Andrei "AK-47" Kirilenko
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Place of Interest: Russia
Likelihood: Very High
According to a report from the ABC affiliate in Salt Lake City, Andrei Kirilenko is strongly considering returning to Europe if this Collective Bargaining Agreement cannot be reached.
"Due to the lockout I have the opportunity to play for my friends, relatives and Russian fans who live in Russia," said Kirilenko in an interview with a Russian newspaper. "They would love to see me playing in Russia. Of course I'm not considering only Russia, but for example ACB [in Spain] too. That's the strongest European league. I would like to test myself there. But it's still early to talk about any particular teams. My agent is going through the teams so that he can suggest a shortlist of teams I could be interested in, in a couple of weeks."
On April 14th, Kirilenko said this to reporters, "It's probably a good idea to start the season in Europe [during a lockout]. You can stay in game shape because you don't want to miss half a year not playing basketball and just practicing."
Kirilenko's numbers were at a rather low 11.7 points and 5.1 rebounds per game last season. I'm not too sure how much the Jazz will miss his defensive intensity, but AK-47's at the end of his contract. Without an agreement, Kirilenko will be on the first flight back to Russia.
Brandon Jennings To Go BACK to Europe
I wonder how much it hurt the photographer to take this picture...
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Place of Interest: Italy
Brandon Jennings told Gery Woelfel of Hoopshype.com last November that he would go back to Italy if the lockout persisted.
Go ahead. Read the conversation for yourself.
“Are you saving your money for a potential lockout next season?
Jennings: "Oh, yeah. Of course. I think if a lockout comes, we can go overseas and play, right? I’ve heard guys say that."
"You would actually play overseas next season?"
Jennings: "You got to do something. I love to play the game of basketball, so I don’t want to just sit around. If there’s a lockout, I’d probably go overseas again and play."
"And what country would you prefer to play in?"
"You obviously enjoyed the one season you played with Lottomatica Roma before joining the Bucks."
Jennings: "I did, and I know the city. I can get back there and go where I usually go. Maybe teams over there will have different expectations of me now. Hopefully, the work I put in over here will get me some minutes overseas."
He's already set his sights already on the place he wants to go. There's no stopping him now.
Tony Parker Goes Home To Play in France
Mike Stobe/Getty Images
Place of Interest: France
France native Tony Parker might just be on the move if the lockout doesn't come to an end.
After translating the French sporting paper L'Equipe, Hoopshype.com got some answers (h/t Pro Basketball Talk).
“If the conflict lasts, I think I’ll go and play in France so that my fans can see me up close. I could really progress abroad in a big Euroleague team, but I do not want that. I already had my glory and titles. If the lockout lasts, I will probably go to play to Villeurbanne.”
That's about as clear-cut as anyone is going to get.
Dirk Nowitzki Would Play in Germany
Jeff Gross/Getty Images
Place of Interest: Germany, Greece
It would only make sense for an international talent as dominant as the 2011 NBA Finals MVP, Dirk Nowitzki, to return home in the event of a lockout. And doing just that is an option on his menu.
After translating an article written in BILD, a German newspaper, Scout.com was able to gather some information on Nowitzki's plans for next season.
"In an article in the German newspaper BILD (www.bild.de), Dirk Nowitzki shared his thinking on what he might do in the event the NBA is not playing in 2011-12, saying, 'Rather than do nothing at all for a year, I would come to Germany [to play].' His closest adviser, Holger Geschwinder, elaborated further on their approach: 'We would be negligent if we weren't analyzing our choices.'"
It wouldn't be surprising to see Nowitzki return home after finally getting the championship ring he deserved.
Kobe Bean Bryant Returns to His Home...in Italy
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
Place of Interest: Italy
Could you imagine the NBA without Kobe Bryant?
It'd be like the United States without a president; a team without a captain; a group without a leader; an orchestra without a conductor.
You get the picture.
Kobe is the embodiment of perfection at the shooting guard position. He's been called a ball hog and a "chuck," but one thing the Black Mamba's done his entire career is put the ball in the basket when his team has needed it most. Losing a player of his stature to the Euroleague would be a shot from which the NBA would never recover.
Yes, Kobe's nearing the end of his career, but like fine wine, he's only getting better with age. It would be a tragedy to watch a surefire Hall of Famer and one of the best players the NBA has ever seen walk away from the league because of owner-player issues.
"Kobe Bryant may be willing to return to his Italian roots if he doesn't agree with the terms of a new collective bargaining agreement.
According to one of Bryant's teammates, the Lakers All-Star recently threatened, 'I'll play in Europe' when they were discussing the potential of an NBA lockout this summer and the ramifications of a new CBA."
It's a scary thought, but if Kobe walks away from the NBA and heads to Europe, there's no telling what will happen to his legacy.
UPDATE: Yahoo's Adrian Wojnarowski tweeted earlier today that "Kobe Bryant is open to considering overseas offers for the duration of NBA lockout, sources familiar with his thinking tell Y! Sports."