China does not like to have its power usurped.
Here’s a long story shortened: NBA free agent Kenyon Martin signed in China during the lockout, a deal that said he would stay there that league’s entire season (mid-February to mid-March depending on playoffs). Except he didn’t, he left mid-season unhappy with the situation. His contract said he could not sign with an NBA until the Chinese league season ended, but yesterday we told you that international governing body FIBA overruled China and gave Martin a letter of clearance to return to the NBA now.
Now, China is fighting that FIBA Letter of Clearance, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.
China has forwarded an affidavit to FIBA and the NBA – signed by Martin upon his departure in late December – that stipulates he wouldn’t play in the NBA until his Xinjiang Guanghui Flying Tigers’ season had ended. China is demanding the contract be honored and Martin have to wait until the Flying Tigers finish their season…
Chinese Basketball Association officials are insisting the clearance letter request was deliberately sent to their office over the New Year when they wouldn’t be available to respond. After seven days without a response, FIBA’s guidelines allow it to issue the letter of clearance that all international leagues – including the NBA – need to validate that a player has fulfilled contractual obligations elsewhere.
In practical terms, we are talking a couple of weeks here — Martin’s team in China is not expected to make the playoffs, their season ends Feb. 16. The NBA may not want to anger the Chinese government as they are trying to forge a business relationship there.
But Martin, and the teams that are courting him (the Clippers, Heat and Hawks are the leaders) would rather have him now than later. So we will wait to see how FIBA responds.
This case also could impact the cases of J.R. Smith, Wilson Chandler and Aaron Brooks, all of whom also are in China but would bolt back to the NBA is a second if they could get out of their deals.