Los Angeles Lakers star, Kobe Bryant, has reached a verbal agreement to play for Italian club, Virtus Bologna, during the lockout in the NBA.
An unnamed source close to the negotiations told AP news agency that that the sides have settled on a $3 million contract for the opening 40 days of the Italian league season.
“We have reached an economic deal,” Claudio Sabatini, Virtus president, said in an interview with an Italian radio station. “There’s still some things to arrange but at this point I’m very optimistic. I would say it’s 95 per cent done.”
If struck, the deal with the Bologna team would allow Bryant to return to the Lakers immediately when the lockout ends.
“This is an important investment and a unique chance for the city of Bologna and all of Italian basketball,” Sabatini said about Bryant’s anticipated arrival.
The Virtus president said he wants the American to appear in Italy’s biggest arenas during his ten games in the country.
NBA’s five-time champ, 13-time All-Star and 2008 Beijing Olympic champ, Bryant, has opted for Italy as he spent most of his childhood there.
The NBA season will not open on November 1 as scheduled because owners and players have been unable to agree on a new labor deal which includes such issues as dividing the league’s revenue, a salary cap structure and the length of guaranteed contracts.