There's a lot of information, and maybe more importantly, mis-information out there regarding players and what they plan to do should the lockout carry on. So I'll pass this along with a huge caveat: This is merely a report, and I'm not 100% sure of its accuracy. NIUBBall.com has compiled Chinese reports and says the game's biggest stars are getting insanely huge offers.
That is substantial, because according to the Titan report, several different negotiations between teams and players had already progressed into advanced stages before Sunday’s news about a preventive rule that would disallow teams from including out-clauses in contracts with active NBA players. Citing an anonymous source with direct knowledge of teams’ dealings, Titan is reporting that several organizations have offered per month contracts to Kobe Bryant and Dirk Nowitzki worth over $1 million. The source claims one team has put forth a $1.5 million deal to 2011 NBA Finals MVP.
And that’s not all. During Dwyane Wade and Chris Paul’s week-long Jordan Brand China Tour, which was completed Tuesday in Beijing, several teams were negotiating with the two’s agency, CAA, about a proposed $2,000,000 a month deal. Before news about the rule change was reported on Sunday, talks had become serious enough to warrant discussions about such specifics as providing personal security and arranging housing for family members, according to the source.
Again, I can't vouch for the accuracy of the offers or the overall story, but it seems plausible. Especially with rumblings in a couple of places that Nike so BADLY wants its guys to play in China if they decide to go anywhere, the they'll actually foot some or all of the bill.
First, we can probably throw Dirk out of the mix. Yes, he's a Nike guy, but he's already playing for Germany in the Eurobasket tournament this summer and, at his age, he'd probably welcome a chance to rest for a couple of months rather than go to China. Even IF it's $2 million a month, he's already said he's got plenty of money. He doesn't seem to be one that will give in to the lure of the cash, especially since he's not interested in promoting any kind of personal brand.
But Kobe Bryant, Chris Paul and Dwyane Wade are different stories. Kobe might be trying to set up a post-career presence in China while CP3 and Wade are, at least internationally, still in the early stages of their marketing efforts. Remember, China is a money spigot. That's where the cash is. That's where Nike wants to be. And with other big-name stars inking deals with Chinese sneaker companies, Nike very much seems to want to retain its dominance in the basketball sneaker world.
The other point in the linked post has to do with the prior reports of Chinese officials wanting to eliminate the out-clauses that are now standard in the European contracts being signed by NBA players. And it's a valid one. It's essentially an un-enforceable rule.
Another reason why teams are unconcerned with the CBA is because many don’t feel the league can enforce their their soon-to-be instated rule. The CBA has one of the highest turnover rates for foreign players in the world. Some players don’t even last two weeks in the country after signing a contract, and its not unusual to see teams switch imports three times in a single season. That begs the question, if a team were to release an active NBA player from his contract, how would that be different than releasing any other import?
It's entirely possible that IF a superstar player does go to China that they get a wink-wink out clause where the player is just simply released once the lockout is over. I don't know if that will be good enough for the players, agents, or Nike, but that might just be how it's handled.
Regardless, if these reports are true, we may actually see a mega-star head to China. That's a $24 million a year salary, which players are very unlikely to see again for quite some time after the new collective bargaining agreement is ultimately settled. That alone will be hard to turn down. But so will the opportunity to become a hoops hero in a basketball-mad country like China. Becoming one of the most beloved stars there will make your $2 million a month look like a drop in the bucket. Your shoes, your jersey, your everything will be the hottest thing around. You'll be an adopted son who will be showered with riches as the masses buy everything with your face on it. AND on top of that you'll have made Nike even MORE money, meaning you've satiated your biggest off-the-court source of income.
That's a great little package there. I can't say I wouldn't do it, even if I was an established NBA superstar with an income equivalent to the GDP of a small country. It just might be too tempting to pass up.