Kobe Bryant has reportedly reached a verbal agreement with Italian basketball club Virtus Bologna to play for them during the NBA lockout. The deal will come out to $3 million over the opening 40 days of the season.
We have reached an economic deal, Virtus president Claudio Sabatini told a local radio station. There's still some things to arrange but at this point I'm very optimistic. I would say it's 95 percent done.
Sabatini wants to create a special schedule that will have Bryant play games in Italy's biggest arenas.
This is an important investment and a unique chance for the city of Bologna and all of Italian basketball, Sabatini said. I'm hoping everyone wants to collaborate.
Bryant's move to Italy is the biggest so far among those superstars considering the same, such as Dwight Howard and Derrick Rose. But, with the NBA owners and players association at such a standstill and no visible light at the end of the lockout tunnel, anyone thinking of going overseas seems both sensible and seductive.
Bryant's move, to Italy specifically, is valid all the way around. Bryant has said he's always dreamed of playing in Italy. He grew up there for a time and learned to speak the language fluently. And, it looks like Bryant doesn't trust that a deal will get done before the NBA season is supposed to start November 1.
Turkish club Besiktas and at least one team in China had also expressed interest in Bryant.
Bologna also recently approached Spurs swingman Manu Ginobili, who played with the club before joining San Antonio in 2002. Denver Nuggets forward Danilo Gallinari rejoined his former Italian club Olimpia Milano last week.
Will Bryant set off a faster domino effect of superstars sailing overseas after Deron Williams left to Turkey? Let's wait and find out.