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Report: Kobe to meet with Turkish club officials in August

Jul 22, 2011, 8:52 AM EST

NBA basketball player Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers smiles to fans upon his arrival at a stadium during his 2011 China Tour in Changsha Reuters

We’re still not sure how serious this is from Kobe’s side, but Turkish club Besiktas — the club that signed Deron Williams to play for them next fall and had Allen Iverson last season — is still trying to court Kobe Bryant.

The club’s very talkative coach explained to the Los Angeles Times how the team hopes this will go down.

“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.”

As we’ve said before, Ataman likes to talk but don’t bet on a deal. Even if it has an opt out to return to the USA after the lockout ends.

For one, Kobe’s body could use the rest. He has talked about the wear on his body from three straight trips to the finals and some USA Basketball thrown in, and Lakers fans want him to use the lockout to rest. Of course, he will not see it that way — he’ll see it as time ticking off the clock and a chance to grow his brand globally — but his knees are showing the wear and tear of a 13-year NBA career and a little time off could help recovery. This is a guy who skipped practices for much of last year, the grind of playing in any league is not extending his career.

Then there’s the matter of money. Besiktas was reportedly looking for a special sponsor to pick up Kobe’s salary (he does have an existing endorsement deal with Turkish Airlines). That salary offer was supposed to be $450,000 a month, although Kobe’s people told them it should be closer to $1 million a month — even that is a dramatic decrease from what he makes in the NBA. The Turkish coach said money is still being negotiated.

Finding that sponsor will be a challenge as Besiktas had its assets frozen due to a match-fixing scandal on the soccer side. The basketball side of the operation is not tied to the scandal, but these are not the kind of things that makes it easier to get sponsors. And this is a team already with a reputation of being late and missing payments to players.

But it’s safe to say they probably will talk in August a little.

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