Kobe Bryant, one of the greatest guards in NBA history, is on the verge of playing in Italy.
Virtus Bologna is closing in on a deal to sign him to a $3.2 million deal for 10 games.
There is a holdup in revenue sharing, but apparently the earlier scheduling problem with two other clubs has been resolved. Virtus President Claudio Sabatini had previously said that a deal with Bryant was 95 percent done, prior to the schedule problems.
The main reason this deal has a strong chance of going though is that Bryant has the option of returning to the NBA should the lockout end.
The Italian season begins on Sunday, so Bryant can keep in shape, make money, and expand his global reach by playing in Europe, as preseason games have been cancelled in the NBA. At the moment, there is little indication that the NBA would start on time on Nov. 1.
The NBA lockout has made many players consider their options overseas. For Bryant, the possibility of playing in Italy is an obvious move. He speaks fluent Italian, watched his father play in the Italian League, and has no interest in stalling his basketball career.
The problem for many Lakers fans would be his risk of getting injured. Bryant is 33, and has played in the NBA since 1996, so he's logged a lot of miles on his legs.
Over the summer, Bryant had a procedure on an arthritic joint in his right knee in Germany, and would likely make an effort to avoid injury in the Italian League, as he continues to pursue his sixth NBA title, which would tie his idol, Michael Jordan.
Lakers fans don't want to see Bryant risk premature retirement because of his time in Italy. His game could be compromised, as well. The European game is much different from the NBA, and players may not like the adjustments they have to make.
Bryant has three years and $83 million remaining on his deal with the Lakers.
Though his loyalty remains with the Lakers, playing in Italy should be a great deal of fun for the future Hall of Famer.