It looks like talks of Kobe Bryant playing in China fell through. So China is going after someone else: J.R. Smith. Yahoo! Sports has the details:
Denver Nuggets free-agent guard J.R. Smith is nearing an agreement on the richest contract in China Basketball Association history, sources told Yahoo! Sports.
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. Smith, who turns 26 on Friday, has averaged 12.5 points per game in his seven-year NBA career.
Under league rules, the China Basketball Association is no longer signing NBA players who want opt-out clauses to return to the NBA prior to the end of the China season. China’s season runs through March.
It makes since that China is going after J.R. He’s a free agent. So if the lockout ends China doesn’t have to worry about him going back because he isn’t with an NBA team right now.
If J.R. signs he’ll be the second free agent from the Nuggets to leave for China. Forward Wilson Chandler has already signed to play in China.