Hawks' free agent Childress reportedly eyes Europe

Europe could be shaping up as the escape route for players who don't want to deal with the NBA's rules.

Multiple media reports on Monday said that Hawks forward Josh Childress is considering playing overseas instead of dealing with his restricted free-agent status in the NBA.

That comes on the heals of Arizona recruit Brandon Jennings deciding to play in Europe instead of accepting the league's rule prohibiting high school players from going straight to the NBA.

Yahoo.com reported on Monday that Childress, who averaged 11.8 points and 4.9 rebounds last season, has an offer on the table from Greek powerhouse Olympiacos for more than $20 million over three years.

Hawks general manager Rick Sund told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the four-year pro was just exploring his options.

"We've had some dialogue during the negotiation process and we've presented a proposal that we think is extremely competitive to the NBA market," Sund said, according to the newspaper. "Josh's agent, Lon Babby, is doing his due diligence by continuing to explore options. I know they've talked to teams in the [NBA], and looked at teams with cap space, negotiated with us and now he's looking at global opportunities while at the same time continuing to have a dialogue with us."

Yahoo reported that Childress flew to Greece late Sunday night and was to meet with the Greek team on Monday.

The AJC reported that the Hawks have a deal on the table with a first-year salary in excess of the mid-level exception of $5.6 million. With incentives, the Hawks could offer Childress a five-year deal worth almost $36 million. They can also match any offer from another NBA team.

The Hawks do not have the right to match an offer from a European team, however. But Atlanta would retain Childress' rights for two years if he left, provided they make a qualifying offer upon his return. But Childress could return in a more flexible market for restricted free agents and earn Euros while the dollar's value declines in the meantime.