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Report: Kobe offered more than $1.5 million a month to play in China

Aug 15, 2011, 4:21 PM EDT

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

Kobe Bryant dropped out of negotiations with a Turkish squad, but you knew other teams were going to make big money runs at him.

And they are coming from China, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo sports.

The Los Angeles Lakers’ Kobe Bryant(notes) has offers north of $1.5 million a month to play in China, and sources say he’d be inclined to accept a contract except for the one immense hurdle standing in his way: Chinese Basketball Association officials will likely pass a rule in the middle of this week forbidding the signing of players with NBA opt-out clauses.

We told you that rule was coming but we also told you many Chinese teams are ignoring it. Chinese teams often go through multiple foreign players a season, picking up one and dropping another casually. Essentially the teams would make handshake agreements to drop a player once the lockout ended and they don’t think there is much the league could do about it.

The teams have money from sponsors in China and you can bet Nike and other shoe/apparel manufactures would encourage — and pick up part of the tab? — their biggest stars to play in the biggest market in the world. It’s all about marketing, Kobe’s salary (even at $2 million a month) would be half of his NBA salary next season, so this is all about selling shoes.

Woj touches on the other side of this discussion — it would really anger the Chinese government if their league became a rent-a-player home for the NBA. And the NBA wants to stay in good with the Chinese government, as does Nike.

Still, China is where the teams are making a push and where there is potential — there is the money and because the league doesn’t start until December players would have a better read on where the lockout stands after games are missed by the time they have to report to camp.

Shanxi has been the most aggressive Chinese team in pursuing NBA talent, sources said, and has made players offers of well over $1 million per month. As one agent who recently visited officials in China told Yahoo! Sports, “I think there are five or six $750,000-plus jobs left right now, and most teams will offer between $40,000 and $100,000 a month to NBA players. Every team will sign a U.S. center, and half of them a point guard, and half a wing player.”

It’s going to get interesting folks. Very interesting.

  1. florida727 - Aug 15, 2011 at 5:11 PM

    It’ll turn China’s pro basketball ‘league’ into nothing more than a series of glorified exhibition games. That’s why the Chinese government most likely would step in and put a halt to it before it gains much traction. Nike, of course, is in a no-lose situation. They either spend and get the Chinese exposure they want, or they don’t spend and place the blame on the government (tactfully), which still gets them exposure. Either way, the Nike name gets publicity.

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