Early Friday morning, the AP reported that Italian Club Virtus Bologna had said it had a "verbal agreement" with Kobe Bryant that would send the NBA All-Star abroad during the lockout. Just as quickly, reports are flooding in that Virtus Bologna needs to slow its roll.
From Yahoo! Sports:
Despite Bologna GM saying deal's "95 percent done" for Kobe Bryant, source close to talks warns Y! Sports that no agreement is imminent.via Twitter / @WojYahooNBA: Despite Bologna GM saying ....
And from Sportando:
Virtus Bologna informed that the deal with Kobe, without the possibility to play 10 games in 1 month, is on the verge of collapsevia Twitter / @SportandoBasket: Virtus Bologna informed th ....
This isn't the first time a team has jumped the gun on saying it had a deal with Bryant. This exact scenario played out through August with Turkish team Besiktas. Eventually talks stopped completely with Besiktas, almost immediately after Besiktas spread word they had an agreement with Bryant. Kobe apparently is not big on contract talks making their way to the media prior to the actual completion of a deal.
The AP reported Bryant's proposed salary at $3 million, which is the closest figure to what he would likely demand for a temporary stint abroad, assuming the lockout does not cost the entire season. It's unlikely, however, that Bryant would choose to announce the deal through a team representative without himself present, and equally unlikely that he would do it this weekend, with the NBA and the players expected to be on hand with most of their constituents for the CBA talks. Friday represents a significant moment in the talks, with both sides offering compromises and David Stern pushing hard to get a deal done by Monday.
This seems early on to be another case of a European team putting the Kobe publicity cart before the contract horse.