Four NBA Players Trapped In China

By Tony Piraro

The Denver Nuggets’ Kenyon Martin, J.R. Smith and Wilson Chandler, alongside the Phoenix Suns’ Aaron Brooks are trapped in China under their basketball contracts with the country. All four players signed with China-based teams, amidst much hesitation from their support systems. China will not let the NBA players out of their respective contracts until their season is over in March.

We all knew how strict and serious the guidelines are in China. Now, NBA players are getting a firsthand look at the country. A great deal of NBA players signed with teams overseas, but most did so with a contract that would allow them to bail once the NBA season resumed action.

Martin, Smith, Chandler and Brooks went against the norm, stubbornly signing in China thinking they would be able to opt out of the country if the NBA lockout ended. They obviously underestimated who they were dealing with.

In fact, the most recent rumors are that the four players have been actively trying to get waived or kicked off their respective teams. The four NBA stars have been behaving badly in the hopes that the Chinese will get fed up with their antics. However, China responded in a different manner.

The following statement was issued by a Chinese Basketball official to CBS.

“They can play, get paid (in China) and return to the NBA in March, or they cannot get paid, and return to the NBA in March.”

Yikes. That statement does not garner any confidence for those four players and their 2012 seasons. I don’t care how much money the NBA has, obviously we have seen over the past few months how stingy they can be with it. I can’t envision David Stern working out a deal with China.

Three of the players are on one team -Denver- which could hurt the success of their team in the upcoming season, thus hurting David Stern’s pocket within the Denver market. I do, however see four big-time NBA talents being trapped in China until March, the same time the NBA season will be concluding. It is a sad state for the game seeing the lockout going so far that NBA talent actually had to look for work in other countries. This lockout, although seemingly over, is still effecting players and will continue to throughout the season.

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