J.R. Smith of the Zhejiang Golden Bulls, in a recent 32-point performance against the Shanxi Brave Dragons.
J.R. Smith of the Zhejiang Golden Bulls and Wilson Chandler of the Zhejiang Guangsha Lions are reportedly looking for ways to escape the one-year deals they signed with their Chinese teams.
According to Yahoo! Sports, the ex-Denver Nuggets are bringing plenty of concessions to the neogtiating table:
…Sources said [the Golden Bulls and the Lions] could be willing to agree to steep buyouts to let the players return to the NBA. The players would have to return all the salary they’ve made, plus agent fees and an additional $1 million to satisfy owners – but that still won’t assure them they could play in the NBA.
As we reported earlier, the upper hand really lies with the Chinese teams, since letters of clearance would need to be signed by the Zhejiang squads for Smith and Chandler to return to NBA action. Releasing the players before their contract ends in March doesn’t benefit CBA teams in any way, as far as we can tell.
The one piece of good news for NBA players locked into CBA contracts comes from Marc Stein of ESPN, who revealed that NBA teams are authorized to pay up to $500,000 USD for aiding in player buyouts with Chinese teams.
Quite true to form, the enigma that is J.R. Smith recently hurt his chances of being let go by the Golden Bulls, by recently turning in a spectacular 52 point and 22 rebound performance (and not to mention 7 steals) against the Bayi Rockets, which earned him the title of CBA Player of the Week.
Notwithstanding a hypothetical firestorm of controversy from J.R. eventually comparing his Chinese team to slave-owners (it’s quite the tradition in American athletics), we can’t really see any way out of this jam for the likes of Smith and Chandler.
Their former Nuggets teammate Kenyon Martin, however, will be playing out his full contract with the Xinjiang Flying Tigers, according to the player’s agent.
Smith and Chandler will just have to live with being stuck in China until March. This certainly wasn’t how we imagined things would turn out, after we first reported that Smith would be heading to the CBA back in September. Regardless of the performance J.R. turns in, it just isn’t the same when a player suits up for a team he doesn’t want to be a part of. Just ask Denver’s fan base about Carmelo Anthony to get a better idea.
Why couldn’t they just all be like Stephon Marbury? The Beijing Ducks’ Coney Island product is still going strong in his bid to go native, with a recent appearance with xiangsheng performers (a dialogue and wordplay-heavy form of comedy from Northern China) to prove it.
It’s just a shame that Starbury’s actual enjoyment of being in China is the exception for NBA-level talent, rather than the rule.