After a standout rookie season in the NBA with the Atlanta Hawks, Josh Childress left the league for Europe. In 2008 he signed a three-year contract with the Greek team Olympiacos Piraeus. Because of tax breaks from playing overseas, his $20 million contract was equivalent to a $32.5 million deal with an NBA team.
As the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported in 2008, "Childress, 25, is the first player at this stage of his NBA career to spurn the world's most high-profile basketball stage for one of its international alternatives."
Atlanta had offered him a five-year, $33 million contract. But the Hawks' slow-paced negotiating tactics and the limits of restricted free agency, combined with what Childress called Wednesday the "opportunity of a lifetime," resulted in his decision.
Whether others follow remains to be seen, but Pandora's Box has clearly been opened.
"I've talked with a few guys and it could become a trend," said Childress.... "I'm not so sure it won't. It's certainly different. We thought outside the box on this one. If players can see a fellow NBA athlete come overseas and live a normal life and adjust to the culture [they may] think, why not me? I'm also interested to see how these next weeks turn out for some of the other restricted free agents in my draft class."
Mr. Childress is now back in the NBA playing for the Phoenix Suns.