The NBA on the Defections to Europe: ‘What, Us Worry?’

by Marcel Mutoni

This summer, the League has watched as Josh Childress, Early Boykins, Carlos Arroyo, and a bunch of European-born players relaunched their basketball careers in leagues other than the NBA.

While no big-name stars have yet to make the jump, some have indicated (jokingly, and others, dead seriously) that they’d certainly consider it if the dollars Euros made sense (see: Kidd, Jason; Wade, Dwyane; Bryant, Kobe; James, LeBron). And the official word from the League office about this new dilemma? Something along the lines of “Don’t sweat it.” From the Associated Press:

“If it happens, it happens. I’d be surprised if it did with players of that caliber,” Litvin said. “But certainly we would deal with it if it happened and I continue to think that the NBA will be the gold standard for the top players in the world for a long time to come.”


“We’re not terribly concerned,” said Joel Litvin, the NBA’s president of league and basketball operations. “In fact, we see this as a positive indication of how popular the sport of basketball is on a global basis.”

On one level, Litvin is absolutely right. The best players in the world are still in the NBA; this cannot be legitimately disputed. The guys who left so far did so because NBA teams refused to give them the kind of money squads in Europe (who are desperate to make a splash, and more importantly, have no restrictive salary cap to deal with) were willing to fork over.

So, what happens once a max-level player gets an offer from an overseas club that (based on recent reports, anyway) puts NBA money to shame? Will it be time to worry then?