J.R. Smith — one of the best off-the-bench scorers in the NBA who brings with him some attitude and a distaste for authority — is close to signing a deal to play a full season in China, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo.
Under terms of the deal, Smith would make more than $3 million to play the 2011-12 season with Shanxi, but lose his chance at unrestricted free agency prior to the start of the NBA season.
China’s league has blocked opt-out clauses to return when the NBA lockout is solved — if you go to China, you go for the full season. Smith is a free agent so he can certainly sign overseas, but at age 26 he would have multiple NBA suitors offering multi-year contracts. Those will be there next season, too, providing he doesn’t get injured (which is the big risk).
This would be a blow to the Nuggets, who would have now lost Wilson Chandler and Smith to Chinese teams.
Smith is… unique. On the court he would become the best player in the Chinese Basketball Association, an athletic swingman who can shoot the three and put the ball on the floor and get to the rim. He also does not shy away from big moments and big shots. Really, he doesn’t shy away from any shot.
But he also is a strong personality that tends to clash with authority figures, which would be interesting (to say the least) in China. The culture clash should make a show as good as anything on the court.
If it happens. He still has to walk away from NBA free agency and sign on the line that is dotted.
Nets’ national anthem singer kneels to finish performance
NEW YORK (AP)— The national anthem singer at the Brooklyn Nets’ home opener took a knee at the end of her performance.
Justine Skye was nearing the completion of the song Friday night when she went to one knee for the finish. There were some cheers, but appeared to be more boos from the crowd at Barclays Center to see the Nets play the Orlando Magic.
NBA players have continued to stand during the playing of the anthems, as required by league rule.
Mavericks’ rookie guard Dennis Smith Jr. misses game with knee swelling
This was more of what fans expected from Lonzo Ball.
After a rough first game against the Clippers — with Patrick Beverleyin his face all night — Ball found plenty of room to operate against the soft defense of the Phoenix Suns. With room to operate Ball had 29 points, 11 rebounds, and nine assists — just one assist short of a triple-double. He helped the Lakers pull away to a lead in the third then hold on for a 132-130 win over the Suns.
Ball wasn’t terribly efficient, 12-of-27 shooting, but he was 4-of-9 from three, he played with great pace, he was decisive, and was finding guys with his passes. It was a step forward, even if it was against a sad defense (Eric Bledsoe can be a good defender, but he has seemed disinterested in recent years).
Ball and the Lakers are going to be up and down this season, the goal is for there to be more ups near the end of the season.
LeBron James rejects Giannis Antetokounmpo at the rim