J.R. Smith and Wilson Chandler are still in China. In fact, Smith dropped 46 points the other night (via nba247365.com).
Which on the surface is what they should have expected — from the start the proud Chinese Basketball Association said it was not going to allow teams to rent NBA players during the lockout. The league limited signings to NBA free agents and said there were no opt out clauses. Player had to stay until March.
But most didn’t really believe that. Players come and go in the Chinese league like no other and most thought there was a handshake deal in place. Nope, not yet anyway. There are rumors that teams in China could let those and other players go if those players refund their entire salary plus pay a penalty fee (one report suggested $1 million).
The league is going to allow NBA teams to pay up to $500,000 to get players out of China, tweets Marc Stein of ESPN, something that was in the union’s letter to players detailing the new labor deal.
There are doubts that will be enough. On the other hand, that’s a lot of money to turn down and it is possible that left with a take-it-of-leave-it ultimatium the team will take it. Maybe.
But for now, Chandler and Smith continue to play in China and may well be there until March when the Chinese season ends.
Tony Parker revealed a plan nearly two years ago to play until he’s 38.
Coming off his worst season since his rookie year, the Spurs point guard is sticking to that goal.
Parker, via Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports:
“The Spurs know I want to play until I’m 38,” Parker told Yahoo Sports in a recent phone interview. “That will be 20 seasons for me. That’s my goal. This year is No. 15. And if I’m lucky enough and I’m healthy, hopefully I can play 20 seasons and then I’ll be ready to retire.”
That seems pretty ambitious, no matter how you handle the conflicting math. (Parker is 33. If he plays 20 seasons, he’ll spend most of his final season at age 39 and turn 40 during the playoffs.)
Parker is already showing signs of slippage. Many of his key numbers were down last season, including ESPN’s real-plus minus, where he quietly slipped from 12th to 67th among point guards.
But Gregg Popovich is very liberal with resting his players, and Parker won’t have to carry too much of the load. Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili will probably retire before Parker, but the Spurs will still have Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge.
I wouldn’t count on it, but it’s possible Parker lasts that long.
The Pelicans starting center, Omer Asik, is injured.
Their backup center, Alexis Ajinca, is injured.
Enter Greg Smith.
Scott Kushner of The Advocate:
Smith was part of the Rockets’ 2012-13 rotation, but otherwise, he has seen limited minutes in his four-year career with Houston and Dallas. In that small sample, he has looked alright. The 6-foot-10 24-year-old uses his big frame and massive hands to catch passes and finish efficiently near the rim. He has also become more disciplined defensively.
I wouldn’t be surprised if he makes the regular-season roster behind the 13 Pelicans with guaranteed salaries.
But it’s also possible New Orleans signed him just an extra preseason body. That’d beat relying too heavily on the aging Kendrick Perkins and undersized Jeff Adrien at center. Anthony Davis is the Pelicans’ best option at center with Asik and Ajinca sidelined (and maybe even with them healthy), but the biggest drawback to playing him there is the injury risk. If Davis is going to deal with the banging at center, might as well save it for games that count.
Still, even New Orleans plans to keep Smith only through the preseason, this at least gives him a chance to impress.