Kenyon Martin has been the trail blazer, showing the path out of China back to the NBA.
But the path isn’t that appealing — you can’t sign to play anywhere else until the Chinese season ends, which is mid-February at the earliest and the playoffs go until late March. And you stop getting paid. So don’t expect J.R. Smith, Wilson Chandler and Aaron Brooks to go running down it, reports Chris Broussard at ESPN.
“China will let these guys go home, but they’ll stop your money or even ask you for some of the money back, and you can’t play for another team around the world until your team in China’s season is over,” the source said…. …but according to a source, Smith was told that if he leaves, he would have to repay all the money he’s already made plus the $500,000 buyout. And of course, he wouldn’t be able to sign with an NBA team until Zhejiang ends its season.
The risk is injury — something Smith had in his first game when he had a scare with his knee (that turned out not to be serious). All the NBA players in China are NBA free agents, so an injury could directly impact their ability to sign for big bucks when they come back to the NBA.
So they could do what Martin did — fly back to the United States and work out. Or they could keep playing and keep getting paid. And it sounds like that is what is going to happen.