Take Kobe Bryant for example. He makes over $25 million per year under his current contract with the Lakers. If you do the math, that’s over $2 million per month, close to $3 million per month for actual game time (including pre/regular/post-season). The Chinese Basketball Association club Shanxi Zhongyu reportedly offered Bryant $1.5 million per month to play for their club.
Europe hasn’t and will not be offering the same type of contracts offered by China or the NBA. The average team salary for a team in Europe is about $17 million, with teams in Greece, Russia, Spain and Italy often having bigger budgets. The highest-paid European players make between $2.8 million to $5.3 million [per year].*** This is a drastic difference from the NBA considering the average rookie salary last season in the NBA was a little over $3 million.
However, pulling off this deal would be extremely challenging since the CBA ruled out employing contracted players. Yet, it is not the financial aspect that makes the idea of franchise players going overseas to play during the lockout a bad idea. It is the real possibility that doing so may jeopardize these franchise players’ physical health and focus internally and of their NBA teammates.
Going overseas may be financially beneficial from venues outside of a player’s contract (brand marketing), but franchise players usually have a mentality of winning a championship. This especially is true with Kobe Bryant. Since Bryant is well into his veteran years in the NBA his focus should be on leading the current Laker team back to the Finals.
The likelihood of the Lakers returning next season with the same roster is becoming more of a reality. This is because of the expectation that all NBA teams will have to deal with a hard salary cap as a consequence of lockout negotiations.
With the Lakers’ already having the highest yearly payroll in the NBA ($91+ million), trades and acquisitions are going to be challenging for the organization once the lockout continues. So solely focusing on bringing home another championship to L.A. should be priority number one for Bryant.
Teams and the fans especially invest their time, money and support in franchise players. Therefore, it may be beneficial for all if franchise players remain stateside in their quest for playing basketball until the lockout ends.