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NBA holds weaker hand in cash game page 2
STEVE DeSHAZO: NBA no longer holds a monopoly on basketball talent

Date published: 7/24/2008

By Steve DeShazo

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Childress was a key reserve on a young Hawks team that ended a nine-year playoff drought and seemed poised for a bright future. But as a restricted free agent, his earning potential was limited in the NBA.

Most teams are loaded with bloated contracts (I'm looking at you, Knicks) and couldn't afford to offer Childress more than the $3.6 million he earned last season. So the Stanford grad went overseas for more guaranteed cash--and the option to void his contract after each year.

Will Childress lead a wave of presumably underpaid American players across the pond? Don't count on it. Given the NBA's increasingly international makeup, more guys want to come here than the other way around.

Players like former Virginia Tech standout Deron Washington hope to use a stint in a European League as a springboard to the NBA. And don't be surprised if Childress returns next summer, when some NBA team can afford to pay him more.

Still, it's clear that the NBA no longer holds a monopoly on basketball talent--or options. The world isn't catching up with the U.S.--it caught up a while ago.

And if the latest "Dream Team" doesn't bring back gold from Beijing, the Americans may need to retire the "We're No. 1" chant. Somehow, "We're in the top five" just doesn't inspire the same patriotism.

Steve DeShazo: 540/374-5443
Email: sdeshazo@freelancestar.com


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