NBA to allow teams to help pay to get player out of China

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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.