Josh Childress told our Sekou Smith that he is going back to Greece for another season. Why? Because, “I still have l some unfinished business to tend to.”
Granted, I’m not an expert on Greece basketball. But I’m pretty sure this is the first time anybody has ever said they had unfinished business with Olympiakos.
It’s clear Childress doesn’t want to play for the Hawks anymore. Now I’m starting to wonder how much he even cares about playing in the NBA.
Look, I have nothing against the man making money. Childress signed a sweet deal last year with Olympiakos: $20 million over three seasons. He could play a short season, live like royalty and be a centerpiece — none of which was the case with the Hawks. So even if his decision to go to Greece was partly fueled by emotion and ego — and it was — it was not the wrong decision.
But staying there a second year?
Childress had a chance to exercise an out-clause in his contract. He didn’t do it. There’s only three possible reasons: 1) The money he could’ve made in the NBA next season wasn’t nearly to his liking; 2) Hawks general manager Rick Sund didn’t like the sign-and-trade offers he received from other teams; 3) Both.
(I phoned Sund this morning. He said he had “no comment at this time,” on Childress’s decision and hadn’t heard anything official.)
The economic downtown has had a significant effect in the NBA. Teams are getting tougher about sticking to payroll budgets. Owners are telling general managers to stay near or below the salary cap, in hopes of paying little or no luxury tax. Because of that, Childress was likely to make less money returning to the league this year than he would’ve made a year ago. That also could have had a ripple effect on the trade market for the Hawks with Childress. In fact, it probably did.
I get all that.
But at some point, passion and desire to compete against the best should take over with a pro athlete. In a Childress’s case, that means playing games against the Lakers, Celtics and Cavaliers — not Panathinaikos, Panellinios and Panionios.
If the economy improves, there could be an increased trade and salary market for Childress next season. Or, maybe he’ll change his mind about playing for the Hawks.
But after two seasons in Greece, teams should start to wonder about his motivation.