Kobe Bryant: 1/5 if you believe Claudio Sabatini, 1/1 if you’re a bit more stoic. The Kobe-to-Bologna soap opera storyline continues into this weekend with the Virtus head ever more publicly confident that the Los Angeles Laker will in fact be playing ball in Italy this season – at least for a month.
Most recently, Sabatini announced that he had reached an agreement with Bryant’s agent Rob Pelinka vis-à-vis a 40-day deal that would have Kobe playing 10 games in Milano colors. Something seems a bit amiss with this announcement, however, as the team is not playing in any pan-European competitions in 2011-12, and thus is on a once-a-week schedule. (Maybe. More on this below.)
For the record, the opening slate of games – taking place over 60 days, not 40 – includes Bologna vs. Virtus Roma, at Novipiu Casale Monferrato, at Montegranaro, vs. Emporio Armani Milano, at Montepaschi Siena, vs. Vanoli Cremona, at Banca Tercas Teramo, vs. Cimberio Varese, at Sidigas Avellino, and vs. Scavolini Pesaro.
To make matters more complicated, a last-minute decision to put Venezia in Serie A reportedly involves a reworking of the league schedule; Sabatini ostensibly went so far as to propose that games against Cremona and Varese be removed from this first 10 games in order to increase revenue. BiE’s not sure about the reportage (or possibly the logic) here, since Cremona is coming to Bologna’s venue.
We’ll see what happens, but this fictional bet will pay out one way or the other soon, as sources report that Sabbatini et al “need to get the deal signed with Bryant by the end of next week in order to get him registered with the league” in time for opening day.
Tony Parker: 5/2. Tough call here on a situation that should have European basketball fans watching suspensely. The latest news has Parker announcing his decision with regard to playing with Asvel Villeurbanne next week; the San Antonio Spur drew his demarcation for Express-News yesterday: “If the sense is we’re going to start in two weeks, I’m not going to go over there,” Parker said. “If they tell me we’re not going to start until January then, yeah, I might go play.”
And despite a pretty negative outcome to Friday’s meeting, Parker somehow maintained optimism. “I think we’ll have a season,” he opined.
Sunny side aside, Parker may choose to play for Villeurbanne based on historical notereity: After all, we’ve all heard of player/coaches, but wouldn’t Parker become the first-ever player/director of operations?
Manu Ginobili: 7/2. In the light of the NBA lockout, Ginobili would appear to be a natural to return to the club which first got him international fanfare and stated as late as last Tuesday that he would only play for two possible teams in 2011-12: the San Antonio Spurs and Virtus Bologna. While the Bryant negotiations appear to be taking up all of Virtus’ attention currently, an extended lockout would certainly make the odds of Ginobili playing in Bologna much shorter – particularly if Kobe leaves town after his own temporary contract is up.
Carlos Delfino: 6/1. After staying silent for months on offering NBA players contracts with his club, Ferdinando Minucci has finally begun wooing at least one big name, namely Delfino. Though Delfino has rejected the first offer made to him by Montepaschi Siena, club officials have promised to advance another offer this coming week.
Dirk Nowitzki: 10/1. BiE used to think this was a sure thing, but Nowitzki’s hard-earned rest period could prevent him from playing in Germany this season – if the sides in the labor talks see sense soonish.
Nowitzki has stated emphatically that “I’m too old to sit around for a whole year. I still can’t see this being a long lockout, but if it is, I’m going to find somewhere to play.” After having fans wait a bit for more information until after the conclusion of EuroBasket 2011, mid-September saw Dirk’s agent announce that his client wouldn’t be playing anywhere until January 2012.
BiE can’t blame Nowitzki for taking time off after a run of NBA season into NBA championship into EuroBasket, but such a decision must certainly nullify the dreams of Bayern Munich; even the 1998 lockout had the NBA season starting in January. Surely the powers-that-be will get things straight by then, right? Right?
Kris Humphries: 15/1. Question from SI.com to Humphries: “Would you consider going overseas?” Answer: “I haven’t thought about it yet. I think if the lockout continues then it’s logical for everyone to explore other options.” Now, if you’re Humphries, a free agent, why wouldn’t you play ball in Europe? Is it about the wife?
Andres Nocioni: 18/1 if you’re pessimistic/optimistic, 50/1 if you’re optimistic/pessimistic. Though Nocioni received concrete offers from FC Barcelona and Caja Laboral Baskonia, the Philadelphia 76er has decided to wait for now. So … are you pessimistic about the lockout/optimistic about Nocioni coming over later or the reverse? BiE can’t imagine that Nocioni would play for either of these two ACB sides later, as their rosters (and seemingly their budgets) have got to be full, but surely somebody will be calling Nocioni next month after a few injuries come visiting…
Derrick Rose: 18/1. In terms of clues, Rose is playing the overseas card to the media like a combination of Nocioni and Kevin Durant, recently explaining that “Yes, I am taking into consideration that I might move overseas. I don’t know where. There are a lot of great places overseas. I haven’t really had time to get the details of every place.”
To which MCT Information Services reportage added that “Rose said he has one concrete offer from an undisclosed foreign team and a source close to Rose said several others have inquired about his services. The source stressed those opportunities would be pursued only if regular-season games get canceled and labor talks break down for an extended period.” Again, we wait.
Kevin Durant: 25/1. The most intriguing possibility to make the jump out there is doing little more than drop in a few “maybes” to the media. Last take, from the Boston Globe: “Should the lockout linger, Durant said, he is unsure whether he would play overseas, but his representatives would pursue opportunities.” And at least one site has him linked to playing in the TBL, but this feels a bit unfounded.
Amare Stoudamire: 100/1. Remember when this was really going to happen…?