Turkish team to pursue Bryant
After agreeing with New Jersey Nets guard Deron Williams(notes) on a contract to join his Turkish team during the NBA lockout, Besiktas coach Ergin Ataman declared his next target: Los Angeles Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant(notes).
Bryant is open to considering overseas offers for the duration of the NBA lockout, sources familiar with his thinking told Yahoo! Sports on Thursday.
Ataman will travel to the United States with Besiktas management officials next week to trumpet the signing of Williams, and wants to arrange a meeting with Bryant and Bryant’s agent, Rob Pelinka, he told Yahoo! Sports on Thursday afternoon.
“After we signed Deron, we started to look around and find a friend of his, find other NBA stars, who want to come over and play with us,” Ataman told Yahoo! Sports. “If Kobe wants to play with Deron in Istanbul, we can discuss this.”
Bryant stands to lose his $25.2 million salary if the NBA’s lockout wipes out the 2011-12 season, and it remains to be seen whether Besiktas could muster a big enough offer to pique Bryant’s interest.
[Related: Kobe willing to entertain offers]
Williams will make approximately $200,000 per month plus perks after taxes, sources said. Williams has an out-clause that would allow him to leave and return to the NBA should a collective bargaining agreement be reached this season.
“We cannot give him the same money as he gets from the NBA, but if the money isn’t everything in this, and Kobe wants to play during the lockout, wants to play with Deron Williams, we can find some deal on the money,” Ataman said.
“Kobe is the player in Europe with the most fans, with the biggest name. I believe that Kobe is a basketball player, and I’m a basketball coach, and that this is a big club, and maybe he can come play.
Besiktas has a recent history of struggling to pay players money owed them. FIBA ordered Besiktas to pay Americans Lonny Baxter and Kevin Fletcher $180,000 and $178,000, respectively, for back payments.
Bryant signed a major endorsement deal with Turkish Airlines last year.
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