Brandon Jennings going to Italy to play pro ball to avoid the NCAA is one thing. A semi-established player like Josh Childress spurning the Atlanta Hawks and the weird land of restricted free agency to sign a three-year, $32 million deal to play for a Greek team is a whole ‘nother can of worms for the NBA.
Before we go any further, one signing obviously does not a trend make, much like Jennings’ jump won’t be judged until next year at the earliest. However, at this point we can safely say that this is a new route opened for guys who are in the middle tier as far as the NBA goes — not superstars, not considered the elite, but guys who make an impact on the game as the glue guys in the starting line-up or valuable sixth men — these guys now have a chance to get more money for shorter contract terms in the prime of their careers, and thus upset the NBA’s status a bit.
It has to frustrate Hawks fans on a very basic level; despite defensive lapses, management had cited re-signing both Childress and fellow RFA Josh Smith as top priorities, yet they apparently did not consider the option that he would leave the country rather than allow ownership to counter any tender sheet he got from another NBA team.
GM Rick Sund had offered $33 million over five years, but in a world where the euro is outdoing the dollar big time and all of Childress’ salary with Olympiakos will be tax-free as far as Greece goes, that’s even more of an economic incentive for the second tier of NBA players.
It may be as revolutionary as we think it could be down the road; it may just be a blip. Regardless, it’s safe to say that we’ll be watching to see how it goes, whether or not Childress will come scurrying back after one year or finish out the whole contract.