I know the word “never” sounds pretty absolute, but I’m extremely confident that the European game won’t threaten the health of the NBA. Sure Brandon Jennings electing to play pro ball in Italy instead of going to college at Arizona was a major turning point, and Josh Childress jumping to a Greek team was a momentous move, but European Leagues will never truly challenge the NBA. The major factor that’s allowed several players to make the move across the Atlantic this off-season is the devalued dollar compared to the Euro. Now what used to be a three-year $10 million offer in Europe has become a $15 million offer because of the exchange rate. Suddenly that 3:2 ratio is looking pretty darn appealing.
Thing is though, basketball has to absolutely explode in popularity to soccer-like levels in order for the salaries to ever become competitive with what the NBA can offer its top players. You think they could ever put together contract offers like what Gilbert just signed for with Washington? Think they could scrap together a max deal for 75 million euros? Sure they can steal Josh Childress in Greece for the equivalent of $20 million (and pay for his Greek taxes), but they can’t steal our top-level talent — not until basketball seriously starts booming in Europe. And heck, if a team wants a player that badly in the NBA, they’ll just ramp up their offer. Just ask the Lakers and Sasha Vujacic who agreed on a thee-year $15 million deal, quashing rumors that he might go play Euro ball. So guys might jump shit here-and-there, but fear not, even the exchange rate can’t overtake the popularity and dollars we can pay our prime talent over here.