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Let's get one thing straight: Linas Kleiza isn't exactly a household name. He's a good complementary piece, perhaps even a starter for a non-contender; one of those guys who are nice to have but aren't going to take over a game on a regular basis.

What he is, however, is one in an increasingly long line of trailblazers. Having established himself in the NBA, Kleiza is leaving for Greek team Olympiakos. He's not the first, of course. Europe is fast becoming a destination for midlevel NBA and college talents. Josh Childress is perhaps the most notable example, signing with the Greek powerhouse for big bucks. Brandon Jennings spent time in an Italian league in lieu of college, and Nick Calathes has chosen Greek team Panathinaikos instead of submitting to the vagaries of the draft. (Though Calathes was drafted in the second round and traded anyway. Go figure.)

It seems like a matter of time before a European team springs for an A-level NBA talent, if for no other reason than the money can be surprisingly lucrative. Kleiza is getting paid more than triple his previous yearly salary, while Childress is pulling down a cool $10 million per year in Greece. Chris Webber briefly flirted with the idea of playing for Olympiakos, and rumors had Greek teams looking at Allen Iverson, but so far, no dice.

eric.cartman22

Good move for Kleiza! he will get more recognition over in Europe and will also get a better chance at proving himself! The NBA here is so bad now a days thats its almost unwatchable!

-- eric.cartman22
jb1089

I never thought that we were in danger of losing our stars to the European leagues, but I see instances like this one becoming more and more common. It's going to be hard to keep European players here if they get an offer to go back home for more money. American born players will always prefer to play here, even if it is for slightly less than they could make in Europe, because they're slightly intimidated by the though of living abroad (with an exception for players like Kobe who spent significant time overseas when they were growing up). The same is true in reverse for the European players. If they can make the same amount of money back home as they can make here, they'll go home. The end result will be that NBA teams will have to overpay for international talent in order to keep them here.

-- jb1089

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