- Associated Press - Friday, September 30, 2011

ROME (AP) - The president of Virtus Bologna tells The Associated Press he is “very confident” Kobe Bryant will sign a deal to play for the Italian club during the NBA lockout.

Claudio Sabatini believes “good sense will prevail” to eliminate any scheduling problems that pose an obstacle.

He adds that Bryant’s agent Rob Pelinka agreed to an arrangement for 35 to 40 days worth more than $3 million, saying that “at this point we’re just working out the logistics.” Sabatini says a Bologna-based food company is prepared to provide cash for the deal.

Bologna has requested to play five of its opening 10 games at home. A few other teams, however, don’t want to change their schedules to accommodate the Los Angeles Lakers‘ star.


THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

ROME (AP) _ Scheduling problems with other Italian clubs were threatening to derail plans for Kobe Bryant to play for Virtus Bologna during the NBA lockout.

Bologna President Claudio Sabatini had told an Italian radio station Friday the deal was “95 percent done,” and a person with knowledge of the negotiations told The Associated Press that Bryant would be paid $3 million for the opening 40 days of the Italian league season _ a period of about 10 games.

Bologna has requested to play five of its opening 10 games at home. A few other teams, however, don’t want to change their schedules to accommodate the Los Angeles Lakers‘ star.

“With great surprise, Virtus Basketball notes that, due to the negative view of some clubs, it’s not possible to go forward with the 10-game agreement, therefore putting in serious doubt the economic deal behind the plan to bring Kobe Bryant to Italy,” a statement on Bologna’s website said.

The person familiar with the negotiations said smaller clubs Cremona and Varese were refusing to alter their schedules. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the talks were ongoing.

“We’ve got a chance to bring Bryant here … and the nearsightedness of other clubs is making it impossible,” Sabatini told Italy’s Sky TV. “If we were at the end of the season, with clubs fighting to avoid relegation or for the playoffs, I would understand. But now nobody has anything on the line.”

Bryant, who spent much of his childhood in Italy, was in the country for sponsor appearances the past two days. He was to be in New York for NBA labor talks Friday.

Virtus had been set to open the season Oct. 9 against Roma, but schedules need to be reworked after Venezia was added to the league as a 17th team. Sabatini wants to create a special schedule that assigns Bryant’s games to Italy’s biggest arenas.

“This is an important investment and a unique chance for the city of Bologna and all of Italian basketball,” Sabatini told the radio station earlier. “I’m hoping everyone wants to collaborate.”

Bologna would need to have the deal signed by the end of next week to register Bryant with the Italian league before the season starts.

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