Posted by Royce Young
Make it two prominant NBA free-agents-to-be that have foregone their 2011-12 season to sign in China. First there was Wilson Chandler. And now there's J.R. Smith.
According to Yahoo! Sports, Smith has signed with Zhejiang Wanma of China Basketball Association. The CBA of course has the no NBA opt-out clause so that means that Smith won't be able to return to the NBA until March at the earliest.
Both Smith and Chandler were a big part of the Nuggets last season so the lockout has already cost Denver two potential big offseason pieces. If Nene signs in China (he a free agent), the Nuggets are going to really regret this whole lockout thing.
Smith's a midlevel player and could be one that feels the casualty of a new bargaining agreement anyway, but there's no way he'll make the same money in China that he would if there was an NBA season. I don't think him signing there is an indication that the season won't happen, but it certainly says that Smith is looking to continue receiving paychecks.
It's a shame because Smith's such an intriguing NBA talent and he was going to make whatever team he went to much more interesting. Though I'm sure George Karl might be quietly pumping a fist right now.
The J.R. Smith Chinese experiment though should replace the NBA season just fine if the lockout cancels it. Because that will be quite the thing to watch Smith play in China. Talk about a reality TV show. Someone should get on that right now.