Kobe Bryant has been flirting with playing overseas all offseason long, but nothing real concrete has emerged. The Los Angeles Lakers superstar has received offers from Turkey and China, but it never went past the original stages of discussion. For most of the offseason, it's looked like Bryant's next significant minutes on a basketball court would be played under the lights of Staples Center and other NBA arenas.
But with the NBA lockout on the verge of extending into the regular season, Bryant might very well be changing his tune. Reports from Kevin Ding of the Orange County Register indicate that Bryant could very well be heading back to Italy to play basketball. The early reports are that Kobe would net half a million playing for Virtus Bologna if he played the season opener, $650k if he plays the first three games, and $3 million for the entire season.
Bryant's history with Italy is well-documented (he spent most of his childhood there and speaks fluent Italian), and he'd certainly be comfortable playing there, but would the money be good enough? There's no doubt that he could help grow Italian basketball, and it'd give him something to do while the lockout progresses, but there's still a lot of negotiating to do before Bryant hitches his helicopter over to Europe.
For more on Bryant and the Lakers, head to Silver Screen and Roll.