by Nicholas Gerlach
Save for a couple of moves by Golden State, Philadelphia and the Los Angeles Clippers (who are currently trying their hardest to supplant the Knicks for the title of “Worst Front Office in the NBA”) the 2008 NBA free agent signing period has been duller than Renee Zellwegger. So dull, in fact, that people are already talking about 2010 when the LeBron sweepstakes begins. LeBron’s contract goes through 2010-2011 but he could opt out after the 2010 season. There is a good chance that Cleveland won’t be able to afford him and he will jet for Brooklyn to play for the Nets and be even closer to his beloved New York Yankees. But WAITâ€¦â€¦.Greek team Olympiakos has indicated that they are considering making a run at James in 2010.
This is the same team that signed Josh Childress to a three-year $20 million “net” (most taxes and living expenses are paid by the team in situations like this) contract. What are the Aggelopoulos brothers, the billionaire owners of Olympiakos, willing to give King James? There have been reports of $40 million a year “net”. LeBron James has reportedly indicated that he would listen if they were to offer around $50 million annum. He has said in the past that he wants to be the first billionaire athlete and this would be a huge step in that direction due to the international exposure.
Is this going to signify the end of the salary cap in the NBA? This may have to happen to be able to compete with the win-at-all-costs billionaire owners overseas. The Aggelopoulos brothers (the only Greek billionaires that haven’t boned Paris Hilton yet) don’t expect to make enough revenue to cover LeBron’s offer and expect to end up losing money on this deal. But, winning still matters in Europeâ€¦and they don’t even fix their games yet. How can NBA team owners compete with the salaries international teams are willing to offer? Lebron James is making less than $20 million a year in Cleveland next season.
It is unlikely that James will end up overseas. But, this might be a wake up call to Emperor Stern and the owners of the NBA. The lure of being an NBA player may no longer be enough. The international talent level is catching up and they are willing to pay, and even overpay, for NBA level talent. If they do get rid of the salary capâ€¦I just hope that George Steinbrenner doesn’t buy the Knicks.
Lebron James picture courtesy of Cleveland Sports Authority
David Stern with Hakeem and mustache picture courtesy of The Sports Hernia