Tyson Chandler has every reason to want to push for an NBA season, more than most. He’s an unrestricted free agent whenever the offseason actually begins, and this is his last major contract. He’s coming off being the deciding factor in the NBA Finals (outside of Dirk’s brilliance or LeBron’s, ahem, struggles), and is a prominent center in a league weak on such players. So yeah, he kind of needs this thing to end.
But apparently Chandler is ready to start looking at other options. Or at least other options are ready to start looking at him. From ESPN.com’s Marc Stein:
Having already signed Denver Nuggets restricted free agent Wilson Chandler, Zhejiang Guangsha has extended an offer to Dallas Mavericks free-agent center Tyson Chandler, according to sources with knowledge of the talks.
Teams in China are permitted, under new league rules enacted for this season, to sign NBA free agents. Chinese teams likewise can’t offer in-season outs to return to the NBA, meaning any player who signs there is obligated to stay there until the end of the Chinese season in March.
Well, yes, kind of.
If you’ve been paying attention this whole scenario, there’s an underwritten situation to the CBA rules. NIUBball.net has done a great job of writing about this in the past. It’s true that there can be no opt-out for NBA players should the season start. But that doesn’t mean players are stuck there. The most likely scenario involves a handshake deal with players before they sign, stipulating that the team will release the player in the event the NBA season begins. They can make up whatever reason they want, injury, “chemistry,” “personal reasons,” etc. But the reality is that J.R. Smith, Wilson Chandler, and Tyson Chandler are not going to give up on a year of NBA salary for the salary from the CBA. It just doesn’t make sense financially.
But Chandler going to play overseas could be a sign that yet another veteran player has given up hope on a season, especially since Chandler has so much to risk in injury due to his free agency situation, given his injury history.
You have to wonder what Mavericks owner Mark Cuban thinks about this. If there is an NBA season after Chandler begins play in China, if he’s hurt, that significantly impacts the Mavs’ chances at a repeat. Cuban has been pushing for a deal in the past few months, and things like this have to increase his stress level, even as he comforts himself by cuddling with the O’Brien trophy.
Things are getting more real by the minute, and that’s great news for fans in China. NBA fans? Not so much.