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NBA free agency and Europe

Losing valuable, truly significant fantasy players to Europe isn't likely to happen.
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - It wasn't long ago (October 2008) when we were hearing how Kobe Bryant or LeBron James might be enticed to play in Europe for huge sums of money, all tax-free.

Well the economy being what it is worldwide, it appears that things have calmed down in regards to NBA players flocking to Europe. Bryant, who helped his Los Angeles Lakers win the championship this year, never really even looked anywhere else before resigning with the Lakers. And I don't know of anyone who thinks that James will leave the NBA despite the tax advantages in playing across the pond.

So for fantasy owners, losing valuable players to Europe isn't likely to happen. Sure, Josh Childress, who at 11.8 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 1.5 apg in 2008 was a viable fantasy option, took $20 million to jump to Olympiakos last year and a few players this year have signed, but none who were truly significant fantasy players.

One player who did sign, Denver Nuggets forward Linas Kleiza, played in Colorado for four years. Kleiza, who averaged 9.9 ppg and 4.0 rpg, was not really "fantasy worthy," but he could have improved into a borderline starter this season. He agreed to a two-year deal with Olympiakos for around $12.2 million.

Guard Von Wafer, who averaged 9.7 ppg, 1.8 rpg and 1.1 apg last season, left the Rockets to join Kleiza with Olympiakos. He had played with five NBA teams in four seasons.

Detroit Pistons forward Walter Herrmann left the NBA for Spain's Tau Ceramica. But a player averaging just 10.7 minutes-per-game and less than four points was not on the fantasy radar screen anyway.

It appears that the threat of going to Europe, for tax-free income, will not intrude on the NBA fantasy season anytime soon.

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Steve Schwarz at

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