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Suns’ Childress doesn’t get NBA players talking Europe

Jul 13, 2011, 12:17 PM EDT

Olympiacos' Josh Childress (C) shots bet Getty Images

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.”

  1. 23rdinvestmentblog - Jul 13, 2011 at 12:31 PM

    Would someone tell Josh its no different then pros going to the Olympics to play. Its risk there to. Also, I think the players are using this as leverage to get the owners back to the table. Josh ran to Europe when no one would sign him and didnt do go so maybe his experience is why he made those comments. His team overseas couldnt agree to him leaving fast enough! lol Did he even start over there? He did get some good money tho. :-)

    • Kurt Helin - Jul 13, 2011 at 9:30 PM

      Actually, players are covered for their current deals if they play in the Olympics and get injured, those deals cannot be voided. They could if the injury happened in a Spanish league game or something of that ilk. However, the risk for future deals is the same.

      • 23rdinvestmentblog - Jul 13, 2011 at 11:19 PM

        Kurt thats what i was talking about…Risk as a whole! Just like if they were to workout on there on and tear a knee….Yes they will get paid but there career maybe finished! I think the thought of going over to play is good and why is it so good for someone who is from overseas that plays in the NBA like Dirk who has a big contract but not for someone else like Deron? familiarity doesn’t lesson the risk.

  2. trickybastard - Jul 14, 2011 at 10:21 AM

    Give it up 23investmentblog you’re wrong. Just because you’re in finance you think you’re the expert on RISK. Playing in Europe is about the appearance of leverage at the bargaining table until you see that it risks what they already have and want: their NBA contracts

  3. 23rdinvestmentblog - Jul 14, 2011 at 10:40 AM

    TrickyB, please dont assume to know me or what i do. Also, I said it was about leverage but its all risk! Now the league is nothing if they dont have the players and that risk falls on the owners losing way more then the players. If the lockout runs through next season players lose that money. If the owners are losing so much money they would have to lock them out for as long as possible and in that case would you expect the players to just sit around and just “workout” or go overseas and get paid and lesson the lose of not getting paid?

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