Report: Kobe offered more than $1.5 million a month to play in China

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Kobe Bryant dropped out of negotiations with a Turkish squad, but you knew other teams were going to make big money runs at him.

And they are coming from China, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo sports.

The Los Angeles Lakers’ Kobe Bryant(notes) has offers north of $1.5 million a month to play in China, and sources say he’d be inclined to accept a contract except for the one immense hurdle standing in his way: Chinese Basketball Association officials will likely pass a rule in the middle of this week forbidding the signing of players with NBA opt-out clauses.

We told you that rule was coming but we also told you many Chinese teams are ignoring it. Chinese teams often go through multiple foreign players a season, picking up one and dropping another casually. Essentially the teams would make handshake agreements to drop a player once the lockout ended and they don’t think there is much the league could do about it.

The teams have money from sponsors in China and you can bet Nike and other shoe/apparel manufactures would encourage — and pick up part of the tab? — their biggest stars to play in the biggest market in the world. It’s all about marketing, Kobe’s salary (even at $2 million a month) would be half of his NBA salary next season, so this is all about selling shoes.

Woj touches on the other side of this discussion — it would really anger the Chinese government if their league became a rent-a-player home for the NBA. And the NBA wants to stay in good with the Chinese government, as does Nike.

Still, China is where the teams are making a push and where there is potential — there is the money and because the league doesn’t start until December players would have a better read on where the lockout stands after games are missed by the time they have to report to camp.

Shanxi has been the most aggressive Chinese team in pursuing NBA talent, sources said, and has made players offers of well over $1 million per month. As one agent who recently visited officials in China told Yahoo! Sports, “I think there are five or six $750,000-plus jobs left right now, and most teams will offer between $40,000 and $100,000 a month to NBA players. Every team will sign a U.S. center, and half of them a point guard, and half a wing player.”

It’s going to get interesting folks. Very interesting.

Quinn Cook signing two-year contract with Hawks

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The Hawks began last season with just two point guards, one fewer than most teams – especially notable because neither starter Dennis Schroder nor backup Malcolm Delaney was experienced for his role.

Schroder and Delaney return, but Atlanta is adding another option – Quinn Cook.

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

Cook is a borderline NBA player. He might not make the regular-season roster. He also might supplant Delaney for a rotation spot.

A 24-year-old who has spent most of the last two years in the D-League (also getting stints with the Mavericks and Pelicans), Cook is a good outside shooter. He’s also steady, if unspectacular, in his lead-guard duties.

This is a solid flier at a position the Hawks could use depth.

Knicks sign Xavier Rathan-Mayes and Jamel Artis

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The Knicks signing Nigel Hayes leaked first.

But New York didn’t stop there.

Knicks release:

The New York Knickerbockers announced today that the team has signed forwards Jamel Artis and Nigel Hayes and guard Xavier Rathan-Mayes.

Like Hayes, Artis (Pittsburgh) and Rathan-Mayes (Florida State) went undrafted this year – making them eligible to be waived and assigned to the Knicks’ minor-league affiliate. That’s likely all three’s fate.

But first, each will have an opportunity to make the regular-season roster. The Knicks have just 14 players with guaranteed salaries, leaving one roster spot for someone on a standard contract. Chasson Randle (unguaranteed) is the incumbent choice, but these three could supplant him.

O.J. Mayo says abusing prescription painkillers triggered NBA ban

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Last year, O.J. Mayo was banned from the NBA for at least two years due to a drug violation. Aside from stating a plan to come back, Mayo didn’t say much publicly.

Until now.

Ben Golliver of Sports Illustrated:

He acknowledged smoking marijuana and abusing a prescription pain medication that triggered his two-year ban because it is on the NBA’s “drugs of abuse” list. (He emphatically denied testing positive for hard drugs like cocaine.)

Mayo also concluded that he had been “overwhelmed” by a string of difficult life events: his father, high school basketball star Kenny Ziegler, was sentenced to more than 10 years in prison for distributing crack cocaine, his brother was placed in juvenile lock-up, a close friend went to jail, and another was killed. “I was bred to play basketball and I thought I could balance everything,” he said. “I couldn’t.”

That’s part of an interesting feature on Mayo, who’s training for his come back. Golliver’s story makes it easy to pull for Mayo.

But the guard will be 30 when he’s eligible to apply for reinstatement, and he played lousily in his last three seasons with the Bucks.

Hopefully, Mayo has and keeps his personal life in order. But returning to the NBA will be an uphill battle.

James Harden throws alley-oop to Chris Paul, pair puts on show at Houston charity event

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What chemistry problem?

There are legitimate questions about how Chris Paul and James Harden will share the backcourt and ball with the Rockets, but none of those were on display on Sunday. That’s when CP3 joined his new teammate in Harden’s charity game (raising money for Harden’s charity, which helps children from single-family homes get a higher education), a kind of pro-am with some names thrown in to draw a crowd.

Harden and CP3 put on a show for the fans.

This is a charity event, not every team is going to defend like this or the Phoenix Suns. It’s going to be harder when the games matter.

But the Rockets are going to be entertaining to watch this season. No doubt.