Report: J.R. Smith near deal to play season in China

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This has reality show written all over it.

J.R. Smith — one of the best off-the-bench scorers in the NBA who brings with him some attitude and a distaste for authority — is close to signing a deal to play a full season in China, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo.

Under terms of the deal, Smith would make more than $3 million to play the 2011-12 season with Shanxi, but lose his chance at unrestricted free agency prior to the start of the NBA season.

China’s league has blocked opt-out clauses to return when the NBA lockout is solved — if you go to China, you go for the full season. Smith is a free agent so he can certainly sign overseas, but at age 26 he would have multiple NBA suitors offering multi-year contracts. Those will be there next season, too, providing he doesn’t get injured (which is the big risk).

This would be a blow to the Nuggets, who would have now lost Wilson Chandler and Smith to Chinese teams.

Smith is… unique. On the court he would become the best player in the Chinese Basketball Association, an athletic swingman who can shoot the three and put the ball on the floor and get to the rim. He also does not shy away from big moments and big shots. Really, he doesn’t shy away from any shot.

But he also is a strong personality that tends to clash with authority figures, which would be interesting (to say the least) in China. The culture clash should make a show as good as anything on the court.

If it happens. He still has to walk away from NBA free agency and sign on the line that is dotted.

It has come to this: LeBron feels bad for Carmelo Anthony

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After the All-Star Game practice (where we swear we saw Gregg Popovich almost try to do some real coaching at one point) came the usual round of media interviews. East and West mingled together, with LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony sitting right next to each other.

This may be the first time ever there was a bigger crowd around the guy next to LeBron than the man himself.

Anthony is clearly weary of questions about his future, and somebody asked Anthony, with LeBron listing in, why he didn’t do what James did last season and refuse to discuss his future in interviews.

“It’s totally different,” James jumped in and started answering for ‘Melo. “One thing about my situation, I was able to hide a little bit because it was the offseason when it got heavy. He’s still traveling every day, he’s still playing games, he’s still got to put on a uniform and represent the Denver Nuggets the right way.”

So Melo’s situation is worse?

“Yes, because he has to see (the media) every day,” James said. “I didn’t have to see you guys in the offseason.”

So it’s come to this — LeBron James feels bad for Anthony.

Dallas “touches base” with Denver about Melo, but reality says no way

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We’re not telling you about this because it is likely to happen — you’re more likely to read a headline that says “President Obama, Rush Limbaugh now BFFs” — but rather to show just how widespread the interest in Carmelo Anthony is around the league.

The Dallas Mavericks have “continued to touch base” with the Denver Nuggets about Carmelo Anthony, according to Mike Fisher at

This isn’t going to happen for a lot of reasons. One is that Denver wants to get Anthony out of the Western Conference if they trade him. Another is the Mavericks trade package — likely Caron Butler and his expiring deal, Rodrigue Beaubois and filler — is not heavy on young talent and draft picks the Nuggets want. Like the Nets are already offering. Oh, and there’s that little thing where Anthony wants to go to New York. We could go on, but you get the point

But the Mavericks contact with Denver illustrates the depth of interest out there from teams. Numerous other franchises whose names will never be mentioned in the Anthony sweepstakes will call Denver to kick the tires on a deal. See if anything is there. It’s how the league works, some level of these conversations happen all the time.

Doesn’t mean Melo is going to Dallas. He’s not.