NBA superstar Kobe Bryant will sign a 10 game, $3 million contract with Italian basketball club Virtus Bologna, according to The Associated Press.
The AP reported on Friday that the basketball club had reached a verbal agreement with Bryant and the deal was 95 percent done.
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.
Bryant grew up in Italy and has called playing in Italy a dream for me. Bryant is considering the deal as the NBA season looks increasingly doubtful to be played due to a stall in contract negotiations between the league and the player's association.
Bryant lived in Italy between the ages of six and 13 when his father, Joe, played professional basketball throughout the country.
Italy is my home. It's where my dream of playing in the NBA started. This is where I learned the fundamentals, learned to shoot, to pass and to (move) without the ball, Bryant told Gazzetta dello Sport. All things that when I came back to America the players my age didn't know how to do because they were only thinking about jumping and dunking.
Earlier in the summer a Turkish basketball club claimed to have a deal in place with Bryant, but Italy has long been considered Bryant's likely destination should the NBA season be canceled.
Bryant is expected to arrive in Italy by next Wednesday or Thursday and go through medical tests before signing the contract. He joins a few NBA stars to move to Europe to play basketball, including Nets' point guard Deron Williams, with more likely to follow should the season be canceled.
Bryant has three years, $83.5 million left on his contract with the Los Angeles Lakers. He'll have a clause in his contract to leave Bologna whenever the NBA lockout ends.