Thursday , Jul , 14 , 2011 Hoopsvibe

Rumor: Dwight Howard to China, not Europe?

Marca: If you play overseas, I have the hunch that you would choose China rather than Europe?

Dwight Howard: Yes, I think China has more options.


HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: Forget his goofy grins, whacky imitations, and bad jokes. Dwight Howard is smart –smarter than most of his NBA brethren.

Instead of taking his talent to Europe during the NBA lockout, Howard has his eyes on the prize: China. Playing in the land of Yao, Howard would get a handsome salary and opportunity to promote his brand. 

There’s no guarantee Howard, or any NBA star, receives a cent in Europe. Owners in Greece, Italy, Portugal, and Spain are known for not honouring player contracts -and this was before the financial crisis.

Bottom line: there’s no money for NBA stars in Europe. Plying their trade on the other side of the Atlantic isn’t so simple.

First, the money is scarce –even in Turkey. A sponsor, not the team, is paying Deron Williams’ $5 million salary, private driver, personal chef, and business assistant. This deal will not be available for other American superstars.

Second, the overseas game is different. In Europe, the coach and system matters more than players, while the NBA is, and always has been, a players’ league. As crazy as it sounds, an NBA superstar, like Howard, wouldn’t automatically dominate with a European club.

Third, Europe wouldn’t be a vacation. Training camp involves mountain running, weights, and multiple practices each day. Few, if any, NBA superstars would tolerate such rigours, especially if they’re returning once the lockout is settled.

Finally, European clubs won’t want American superstars. Suppose a club signs Howard. Suppose Howard plays for three months, only to return to the NBA in January when a new Collective Bargaining Agreement is signed.

That club has used a roster spot on Howard. Signing a replacement for Howard would be complicated. And they’d have to mesh his replacement into their system-based approach.

China doesn’t have Europe’s complications: the world’s strongest economy is plush with money, so first-class salaries and perks are available; elites would be given a forum to shine on-and-off court in Shanghai or Beijing; China wouldn’t put its ‘guests’ through torturous training and there’d be an open-door policy.

Don’t let Howard’s outgoing nature fool you. He’s wisely leaning towards China during the lockout. Others can learn from him.

–Oly Sandor.

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