Olympiakos has stolen Linas Kleiza from Denver with a 2-year, $12.2 million deal… which continues a trend of big Greek teams (and foreign teams as a whole) taking mid-level guys who just can't seem to get the money they're looking for in the US. I'm actually surprised none of them came after Big Baby with $5 million.
This summer, Josh Childress opted to stay in Greece, while Von Wafer will go there. And Walter Hermann signed in Spain. Hardly game-changing names crossing the pond, but this is really only the beginning. More mid-level guys are going to get richer offers overseas… especially as the cap shrinks over the next season or two.
This could be a trend that creates a talent gap where guys looking for more than mid-level money end up looking to other sources to get it. Meanwhile, NBA GM's will have to continue looking for ways to plug holes in their roster… leaving them no choice but to throw more money at lesser talent… which will throw the whole system out of whack.
Before you think I'm getting ahead of myself, ask yourself this: If you were at 25 year-old guy with no allegiance to any one team, would you take $5 million to play 82 games in the NBA, or would you take $7 or $8 million to play 30 or 40 games in Europe?
You could play two seasons worth of hoops yet only put one NBA year of wear on your body… while making two or three times what you would have made. For a lot of these guys, that's a great option. It won't be long before more teams start looking to the NBA for players like that. And it won't be long before our valuable role players start disappearing for two or three year stretches.
I don't know how huge an effect that will have on the NBA, but I'm willing to bet it's noticeable.