Kobe Bryant, one of the greatest guards in NBA history, is considering playing in Italy but schedule conflict might prevent it.
Some of the teams in the Italian basketball league won't change their schedules to create more games at the start of the season for Virtus Bologna, Bryant's likely team.
Virtus team president Claudio Sabatini said on Friday that a deal with Bryant was 95 percent done, before the schedule conflict surfaced. Bryant was expected to make $3.2 million in 10 games.
Sabatini still thinks Bryant has a chance of joining the team, as the teams that haven't budged on the schedule will come to their senses. The reason this deal seems imminent is that Bryant would still have the option of playing in the NBA should the lockout end.
The Bologna season begins on October 9th, 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. There is little indication that the NBA would start on time on November 1st.
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.
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 than the NBA, and players may not like the adjustments they have to make.
There is also the matter of his current contract. Bryant has $83 million, and three years, remaining on his deal with the Lakers, and it would have to be insured. Would Bryant or Virtus pay for the insurance plan?
What is encouraging for everyone involved in the situation, is that Bryant can immediately return to the Lakers should the lockout end.