Arroyo signs three-year contract to play for Israel's Maccabi Tel-Aviv
Another established NBA free agent is heading overseas.
Veteran point guard Carlos Arroyo, whose future with the Orlando Magic appeared to vanish after limited minutes in the playoffs and the Magic's recent signing of Anthony Johnson, has accepted an offer from Israeli giants Maccabi Tel-Aviv.
The signing was officially announced on Monday.
Arroyo's agent, Leon Rose, confirmed the signing to ESPN.com on Sunday night after Maccabi Tel-Aviv coach Effi Birenboim appeared on the country's national sports network (Sport5) to tout what is believed to be the richest transaction in Maccabi's history.
"I'm very happy we've completed this signing," Birnboim said Monday on the club's Web site. "Arroyo is a player of the highest standard and has been our top priority for a while."
Sources in Israel said Arroyo will receive an estimated $2.5 million net next season -- roughly the equivalent of a $5 million NBA salary after taxes -- as part of a three-year contract. The deal includes an opt-out provision that will enable Arroyo to return to the NBA after each of the next two seasons if he chooses.
Arroyo becomes the eighth player who worked in the NBA in 2007-08 to sign with a foreign club since free agency commenced July 1. But he's just the second -- along with former Atlanta Hawks swingman Josh Childress -- who had established himself in the NBA before finding a more lucrative contract.
Childress spurned a five-year offer worth an estimated $33 million from the Hawks to sign a three-year deal worth at least $20 million from Greek power Olympiakos.
All of the other players to sign with European clubs in recent weeks -- Serbia's Nenad Krstic, Spain's Juan Carlos Navarro and Jorge Garbajosa, Argentina's Carlos Delfino and Slovenia's Bostjan Nachbar and Primoz Brezec -- played for top-level teams overseas before coming to the NBA.
Big spending by a small handful of European clubs with the wherewithal to offer contracts at or above NBA prices, thanks largely to the declining fortunes of the American dollar compared to the euro, put pressure on Maccabi to make a marquee signing of its own.
After attempting to fill its backcourt void by chasing summer-league sensation Bobby Brown, who elected to sign instead with the Sacramento Kings, Maccabi also made a high-profile attempt to sign Miami Heat free agent Jason Williams. Arroyo becomes the second Detroit Pistons alumnus to join Maccabi in recent weeks, joining forward Rodney White, who was selected No. 9 overall by Detroit in the 2001 draft.
Maccabi reached the Euroleague title game last season and has won Europe's top team prize five times since 1977, while also ranking as the only team from abroad to beat an NBA team on North American soil thanks to a 105-103 victory over the Toronto Raptors in the 2005-06 exhibition season. But Maccabi is coming off a disastrous season domestically in which it inexplicably lost the Israeli championship to tiny Hapoel Holon.
Arroyo, who turned 29 last week, averaged 6.9 points and 3.5 assists for the Magic last season in 62 games but appeared in only four of Orlando's 10 playoff games. Given Arroyo's proven scoring ability and vast international experience, which includes a brief stint in the Euroleague with Spanish club Tau Ceramica during the 2001-02 season, Maccabi will be expecting him to make a faster-than-usual transition to the European game.
After his 25 points in Puerto Rico's upset of the United States in the opening game of the 2004 Olympics in Greece -- Team USA's first-ever Olympic loss using NBA players -- Arroyo led his country to the brink of another Olympic berth last month before a torn muscle in his left leg held him out of the deciding game against Germany. Puerto Rico coach Manolo Cintron said Arroyo would have been healed in time for the Olympics had Puerto Rico qualified, but the Dirk Nowitzki-led Germans claimed the final berth in the 12-team Olympic field for Beijing with a 96-82 victory.
"Aside from his on-court qualities, he's also a proven leader," Birenboim told Israel's Ma'ariv newspaper. "And that's very important to us."
On the team's official Web site, Birenboim added: "Arroyo is a player of the highest standard and has been our top priority for a while. Luckily for me, Maccabi's management agreed to sign him despite the huge costs. This is exactly the player we need."
Marc Stein is the senior NBA writer for ESPN.com. To e-mail him, click here.
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