BEIJING – When the NBA’s nuclear winter ended, Wilson Chandler was sitting in his bed, playing video games by himself.
He opened his Twitter account and saw someone tweeting “the lockout ended!” But he didn’t believe it at first, “because there were rumors every day about it, I thought it just another one.”
A phone call from his agent Chris Luchey came in later, Luchey told Chandler, “This time it’s true, the lockout ended. The NBA season will begin on Christmas day.” Chandler was stunned, as were J.R. Smith and Aaron Brooks.
As you know, there’s a big difference between contracts NBA players signed with teams in Europe and those signed by players in China. FIBA required deals with European teams to include opt-out clauses allowing players to return to the NBA upon the end of the lockout; the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) forbade them.
Chandler, Kenyon Martin, Smith and Brooks, among others, signed contracts with Chinese teams, and now, some NBA teams have interest in bringing them back to America. The Denver Post reported that Martin will honor his contract, and Chandler is now saying the same thing.
“What can I do? I have my contract with Chinese team, I won’t fly away, I can’t fly away. I’ll stay here in China,” Chandler said.
Smith, Martin and Brooks will probably end up saying the same thing.
“They have to play in China, and return to the NBA in March. The CBA season is much shorter, so J.R., Aaron and Wilson could take part in the playoffs. If play well, they can get a good contract next summer,” Luchey said.
But a China-based agent told me earlier this week, “If the NBA stars want to escape from China, of course they can find some ways. Absent from practice, maybe even games. I don’t think there’s no way out.”