Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant, 33, has reached a verbal deal to play in Italy during the NBA lockout, said Italian team Virtus Bologna.

“There’s still some things to arrange but at this point I’m very optimistic. I would say it’s 95 percent done,” Virtus president Claudio Sabatini told a local radio station, adding, “This is an important investment and a unique chance for the city of Bologna and all of Italian basketball.”

Sources say Bryant will receive $3 million to play about 10 games, and can return to the Lakers immediately when the lockout ends, if it should.

Bryant spent much of his childhood in Italy — and thus speaks fluent Italian — because his father played for teams there in the late 1980s. He said playing in Italy “would be a dream for me.”

“Italy is my home,” Kobe told an Italian newspaper. “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.”

[ESPN]