Nick Calathes is headed across the pond to play for Greek power Panathiakos. They are the reigning Euroleague champion, and currently are battling Olympiakos (who, if you remember, signed both Josh Childress and Jannero Pargo this past off-season).
On the surface, this looks like a simple case of following the money. According to the Orlando Sentinel, who broke the story, he has already signed a contract that will "will pay Calathes around $1.1 million per year, in addition to providing him with a home, car and tax credits". All told, the deal is just about equivalent to the $1.4 million that Anthony Randolph, the 14th pick in last year's draft, made under last season's rookie scale.
The deal is particularly advantageous for Panathiakos. Calathes has dual US-Greek citizenship, which means that he won't count against the limit of two americans per team in the Greek League.
But there seems to be more to this than meets the eye.
For starters, Calathes seemed to be a solidly in the first round, albeit later than the lottery (meaning he will make more money in Greece). He has reportedly worked out for Dallas and San Antonio, and the Mavericks, who pick 22nd, seemed to be very interested. Calathes is a 6'5" point guard with an exceptional ability to pass the ball and lead a break. Playing behind and learning from Jason Kidd would have been the ideal situation for Calathes.
But according to reports, it wasn't Nick that made this decision; it was his father John. A source told Jeff Goodman:
It makes no sense. Nick’s dream, like most American kids, is to play in the NBA. His dad is behind the decision.Pat Calathes, the former St. Joe's standout and Nick's older brother, currently plays for Maroussi, another team in the Greek League.
Part of Nick's deal with Panathiakos is that he must withdraw from this year's draft and pass a physical in Greece within the next 10 days. While he will be eligible for the 2010 NBA Draft, that class looks to be much stronger than this year's, meaning that Calathes is far from a lock for the first round, especially considering that any team that selects him will most likely have to pay a hefty buy-out.
Personally, I am a bit upset with the decision. Because of his fantastic passing ability (his 6.2 apg led the SEC), Calathes was one of the more entertaining players in the country to watch. I was really intrigued to see what he could do in the NBA. But it is tough to argue with guaranteed money, the chance to compete against your brother, and to play in and represent (he competed with the Greek national team this past summer, although there were reports that he hated it) your country.