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So NBA players will want to stay stateside for the competition, right?
"Ultimately, it's about money," Hawks GM Rick Sund said after losing Childress. "The more money they get the better they feel about the commitment."
Bartelstein, who represents players in the NBA and overseas, believes European leagues could eventually be an option for the likes of James, Bryant, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh once the issue of guaranteed contracts is cleared up. Bartelstein said he's had to go to court in the past to get teams to pay the full amount of deals to his clients.
"Without there being a players association and a collective bargaining agreement in Europe, there's nothing behind the contract to enforce them other than to go to court," Bartelstein said. "For Europe to truly get to the point where they can compete with the NBA for all kinds of players, they're going to have to implement a system where there's a lot more comfort that the contracts are truly guaranteed. Once that happens then I think you'll truly see great competition for players."
Higgins believes the European option will put extra pressure on NBA teams to lock up players before their four-year rookie contracts expire. The Bobcats had to wait before finally re-signing restricted free-agent Emeka Okafor to a six-year, $72 million last week, a year after he turned down a similar deal.
"We could have came to an agreement last year, so I think that's the window of opportunity for a lot of teams," Higgins said.
While Okafor said playing in Europe "never crossed my mind," Bryant has at least thought about what trading in Los Angeles for a $40 million payday overseas would feel like.
"You cut the check," Bryant said, "and I will bring my Nike checks."
Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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