Only a handful of NBA players have officially signed to play in China during the NBA lockout, but another may not be too far behind. According to Marc Stein of ESPN.com (via Yahoo’s Scoop du Jour blog), Rodney Stuckey is being courted by the Guangdong Southern Tigers, and unlike many other NBA players, actually has the free agent status to make a deal with a Chinese team possible. The Chinese Basketball Association has outlawed the signing of players with existing contracts in other leagues (even if those leagues are inactive), and thus can only target restricted and unrestricted free agents among the suddenly available crop of NBA players.
It’s natural that Stuckey would be a target among the current free agents; he’s not exactly a stellar player, but Stuckey is nonetheless an intriguing, balanced talent capable of contributing across the board. He’d likely do very well in a stint with the Chinese Basketball Association, and in the process earn himself some lockout coin. So long as he’s willing to give up on the possibility of playing in the NBA through March, the Tigers could be a nice spot for Stuckey to spend a few months.
That said, Guangdong’s interest in Stuckey pales in comparison to the NBA’s mid-season reality if free agents continue to sign deals in China. As Marc Stein noted in his report, Yi Jianlian would be able to return to the NBA at a time of his choosing, but Kenyon Martin, J.R. Smith, Wilson Chandler, and any player who isn’t a Chinese national would be obligated to remain in China until the CBA season wraps in March (at the earliest; championship-level teams continue playing into April). Martin and Smith would then become unrestricted free agents, giving some lucky team (with cap space or a salary cap exception to spare) the opportunity to add a rotation-caliber player for a final push. There are obviously some problems with adding a contributor so late in the season, but the prospect of picking up Martin or Smith at that stage — past the trade deadline, mind you — without surrendering any assets will undoubtedly be appealing.
As for Chandler (and Stuckey, should he choose to take the Tigers up on their offer): who knows what the restricted free agency protocol will be like for a player entering the pool mid-season? Will the Nuggets get Chandler back by default because they issued him a qualifying offer? And if so, why is he being treated like a true free agent in regard to his ability to sign in China? Chandler and Stuckey could induce a surreal mid-season bidding war if they’re allowed to go through their customary free agent process while the season is still in stride. Denver and Detroit would have the natural advantage in retaining their respective players, but there’s always a chance that either player could be swept off of their feet — particularly if either incumbent team is leery of the penalties of a new, oppressive luxury tax. There will either be an odd contradiction in free agent status or one of the weirdest mid-season events in league history. The kicker? Things will only get crazier as more free agents commit to play in China for a chunk of the NBA’s season, leading to an unprecedented influx of familiar NBA talent with the playoffs just around the corner.
Report: Celtics, Cavaliers talking Kevin Love trade; could include Knicks, ‘Melo
The Daily News has learned that the Boston Celtics and Cleveland Cavaliers have discussed a blockbuster trade centered around Kevin Love. There were very preliminary discussions about expanding the deal to include the Knicks and Anthony, who would have to waive his no-trade clause in order to facilitate a deal to the Cavs.
The Knicks would receive draft picks and players in return. One of those players is believed to be Timofey Mozgov, who five years ago was traded by the Knicks to Denver in the Anthony deal.
This is a longshot, but the report has some legs.
Here's what I'm hearing: #Knicks unlikely to move Melo but #Celtics have assets to draw NYK interest. Melo intrigued about playing w LBJ
It’s not clear how far along these talks are. The trade deadline is Feb. 18 (next Thursday) and conversations tend to move past the theoretical/value judging phase and get real come All-Star Weekend, when many GMs and decision makers are in one place (and nobody can go outside because it is too cold in Toronto). This trade works for the Cavaliers if they get a quality stretch four in return — Kelly Olynyk? — plus some depth and a quality pick. The question for the Cavs is simply how much can they get back — this is a win-now team and Love helps that, so how does a trade make them better?
Would Danny Ainge move the unprotected Brooklyn Nets pick to get Love? Jae Crowder? How much would Boston surrender to get an elite star, especially one under a reasonable, long contract?
Carmelo Anthony wants a ring, if he could end up playing with LeBron and be much closer to it than he is now, he would waive his no-trade clause.
That said, this trade sounds like a longshot. At least at the deadline. Next Summer… who knows?
Watch Kevin Hart be Kevin Hart at the NBA All-Star Celebrity Game
You knew Canadian hip-hop star Drake was going to be involved directly in the All-Star Game in a way more than just having his back-and-gold OVO owl gear sold at the Air Canada Centre. Now we know how.
Drake will introduce the NBA All-Star players Sunday.
Drake has experience with this, he has introduced the Raptors — for whom he is a “global ambassador” — before.
This works for me. However, just to be clear, Drake is going to be introducing the players and Sting will headline the halftime show Sunday. Because nothing says NBA and millennials like “Fields of Gold.”
LeBron James says he’s undecided on 2016 Rio Olympics
As you might expect, LeBron was asked about that during All-Star media day Friday in Toronto. Also, as you might expect, he dodged the question, saying he doesn’t know what he’s going to do this summer.
“Well, for me, I haven’t quite decided if I’m on the fence of going or not,” LeBron said. “But I’ve always loved representing my country. I’ve been playing in the Olympic games since 2004. So, no, I haven’t made a decision yet.”
My guess is LeBron’s body would love him to take the summer off — he’s played in five straight Finals with an Olympics in that mix — but his brand managers (and Nike) would love to see him play.
With him, the USA will win a gold medal. Without him, the USA will win the gold medal. The Americans are clear and away the best team in the world and only they can beat themselves. LeBron’s leadership can help make sure that happens, but it’s not required.
In the end, LeBron needs to do what’s required to bring a championship “to the ‘Land.” The playoffs, and how he feels after them, will likely determine where LeBron is in early August more than anything else.