A few years ago when Josh Childress headed for Greece because he wasn’t being offered the kind of money he thought he deserved in the NBA, many thought he’d be starting a trend. I didn’t think so and it turned out not to be the case. But when the lockout began, we saw Deron Williams head to Turkey which marked the first time a marquee player played overseas during his prime. Obviously, the situation was different because it was an opportunity for him to earn additional money during the lockout. In retrospect, it was a wise business decision for Williams, who signed a $5M, prorated contract with an NBA-out clause, allowing him to return to the NBA when the lockout was resolved.
But Williams started a trend (only because of the lockout) and countless NBAers fled across the pond for temporary riches as well. Practically half of the Denver Nuggets went to the Chinese Basketball Association. Namely Kenyon Martin, J.R. Smith and Wilson Chandler (Ty Lawson signed with a Lithuanian team). During the summer, the Chinese Basketball Association made it very clear that they would accept NBA players, but they would not be allowing NBA-out clauses to be built into their contracts. That meant that regardless of when the lockout was lifted, they couldn’t return to the NBA until the season in China was over. Even with that declaration, the aforementioned Denver Nuggets still decided to flee. Not to mention Aaron Brooks from the Suns as well. In fact, Brooks signed with a Chinese team less than two weeks ago.
I’ve been hearing a lot of talk within basketball circles that the Chinese Basketball Association should/will let these guys out of their contracts and return to the States, now that the lockout is over. I hope that isn’t the case. They can’t have it both ways. They knew what they were getting into by going over there. The fact that they weren’t offered an NBA-out clause shouldn’t come as a shock to them now. It was a gamble that they were willing to take, and it doesn’t look like a successful gamble. I fully expect the Chinese clubs to stick to their guns and force these guys to honor their contracts.
The Chinese Basketball Association’s season is over in March, so these guys can come back then and rejoin their teams. If it were up to me, that would be the earliest they should be allowed. Who knows if they may rebel or do something in attempt to force the clubs over there to let them go. I could definitely see something like that happening, but short of that, I say they have to stay. See you in March.
If you’re looking for your everyday, predictable basketball talk, then go somewhere else, because Kevin Burke of The Kevin Burke Project brings provocative, thought provoking content about basketball as only he can. Kevin also hosts The Hoop Doctors weekly podcast show, which you can subscribe to for free on iTunes. Follow Kevin on Twitter and Facebook