Bryant to Italy a potential game-changer?


Bryant to Italy a potential game-changer?

Sunday, Sept. 25, 2011
Posted: 4:05 p.m.

By AggreySam BullsInsider Follow@CSNBullsInsider
Early in the summer, an anticipated exodus of NBA talent overseas was all the rage. However, while numerous players have inked professional contracts to play on foreign soil during the NBA lockout -- some, such as the Nuggets' free-agent trio of Kenyon Martin, J.R. Smith and Wilson Chandler, without "out clauses" enabling them to return if and when the work stoppage ends -- outside of Nets All-Star point guard Deron Williams, no true superstar has firmly committed to cross the waters.

That could be changing. Lakers guard Kobe Bryant, who has had flirtations with Williams' Turkish club Besiktas, was recently offered a one-year contract for 6.7 million to play for Italian league team Virtus Bologna, according to reports. Bryant spent much of his childhood in Italy while his father, former NBA player and current WNBA coach Joe "Jellybean" Bryant, was wrapping up his professional career.

No offense to Williams, one of the top floor generals in the game, but if a star of Bryant's magnitude -- a multiple champion, Hall of Famer and one of the best players of his generation, with international ties, to boot -- were to play overseas, NBA fans would pay attention. Additionally, it would demonstrate to the league's ownership that playing outside of the NBA during the lockout is indeed a viable option and could provide the union, of which Bryant has reportedly been a strong supporter (longtime Lakers backcourt mate Derek Fisher is the NBPA president), with some leverage in future negotiations.

What do you think about Bryant potentially going overseas? Will it have any impact on the current bargaining impasse down the road? Will you keep up with Bryant and other NBA players while they're overseas?

Aggrey Sam is's Bulls Insider. Follow him @CSNBullsInsider on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bulls information and his take on the team, the NBA and much more.

Wojnarowski: Bulls-Celtics Jimmy Butler trade talks 'will loom over the entire week'

Wojnarowski: Bulls-Celtics Jimmy Butler trade talks 'will loom over the entire week'

Buckle up, Bulls fans. The trade deadline is four days away and the potential for a blockbuster trade involving the Bulls appears to be on the table.

That's according to The Vertical's Adrian Wojnarowski, who said on his Woj Report on Saturday night that the league's biggest trade deadline story will be Butler, the Bulls and the Celtics.

"There's no question," he told The Vertical's Chris Mannix, "this trade deadline, the potential of a Boston-Chicago deal for Jimmy Butler, I think it will loom over the entire week.

"These teams have engaged on the potential of this trade. They have not gotten far down the road on it. There still needs to be some alignment within the Bulls organization - from ownership to managament - that they want to make a deicison to enter a full rebuild.

"But the potential of this deal really illustrates, certainly the State Farm Right Combo, because these are two teams who have exactly what the other wants."

The Bulls, of course, have arguably a top-10 player in the NBA and someone who could put the Celtics in position to dethrone LeBron James in the East; James' Heat and Cavaliers have won the East the last six seasons. Butler's having yet another career year, averaging 24.5 points, 6.3 rebounds and 5.0 assists in 36.6 minutes. Adding him to a backcourt with Isaiah Thomas would certainly shake up the Eastern Conference and make the Celtics a legitimate threat.

The Celtics "have been hoarding young assets" ever since they dealt Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce to the Brooklyn Nets in 2013. Boston has the right to swap picks with the league-worst Nets in the 2017 draft, and they have Brooklyn's first-round pick outright in 2018.

They also have young talent in Marcus Smart, Terry Rozier, Jaylen Brown, and Jae Crowder, who all could be used in any combination as part of the deal.

But as Wojnarowski points out, that Nets pick is the key to the deal, especially in a 2017 class that touts a host of potential franchise point guards.

"I don't think Chicago could get both (2017 and 2018 draft picks), but that is the beginning point of a deal with the Bulls for Jimmy Butler because they can, in this superstar-laden 2017 Draft, potentially get a star point guard to replace Derrick Rose," he said. "And get other assets to start them down the road on a rebuild."

Fast Break Morning Update: Where do Bulls stand as trade deadline looms?


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