Kobe Bryant, Virtus Bologna Have Verbal Agreement for Deal

As the NBA lockout continues, stars aren't waiting around to make sure they have some sort of income set up, and it appears Kobe Bryant is among them as Italian club Virtus Bologna says it has reached a deal with the Los Angeles Lakers superstar.

According to Virtus Bologna the agreement is still verbal. However, Virtus president Claudio Sabatini told a local radio station, "We have reached an economic deal. There's still some things to arrange but at this point I'm very optimistic. I would say it's 95 percent done."

A person with knowledge of the negotiations, speaking under conditions of anonymity because the deal has not yet been signed, told The Associated Press on Friday that the sides have settled on a $3 million contract for the opening 40 days of the Italian league season.

Kobe Bryant spent much of his childhood in Italy, so the situation would be quite familiar to him. Reportedly, Bryant was in Italy for the past two days for sponsor appearances (for Nike), but was flying back to the U.S. for today's labor talks with the NBA. He is expected to acquire a work visa and return to Italy next week.

Sabatini said "Kobe should be in Bologna by Wednesday or Thursday with his visa in hand for medical visits and then we can deposit the contract with the league. I want to make clear that right now there are still no signatures. We've got to write the contract, which will then be read over and over again."

Although Bryant was reportedly heading back to the U.S., Sports Illustrated's Sam Amick reported via Twitter that Bryant won't return in time to join LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade, and Kevin Durant at Friday's meeting in New York between the NBA owners and the players' union.

The Italian League season begins Oct. 9, so the deal will need to be signed soon, and Kobe Bryant may be playing soon Still, schedules need to be reworked now that Venezia has been added to the league as a 17th team. Meanwhile, the NBA has already delayed the start of training camp and canceled 43 exhibition games through Oct. 15.

Bryant has three years and $83.5 million left on his Lakers contract but at 33, certainly wouldn't want to miss out on any time left in his playing (and earning) career. He alluded to his roots in Italy earlier in the week. "Italy is my home. It's where my dream of playing in the NBA started. This is where I learned the fundamentals, learned to shoot, to pass and to [move] without the ball … all things that when I came back to America, the players my age didn't know how to do because they were only thinking about jumping and dunking."

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