|J. R. Smith expects to return from China this week. (Getty Images)|
Get ready, America, he's about to be our problem again.
Former Denver Nuggets guard J.R. Smith, now an unrestricted free agent, said this weekend that he will return to the United States, after playing in the Chinese Basketball Association during the NBA lockout, on Wednesday.
Smith announced the news on his @TheRealJRSmith Twitter account: "Ladies [and] Gentleman I am happy to tell you my return to the United States is [official]! I will be home [February] 15, 2012! #Hyped!"
An explosive scorer and fearless shot-taker, Smith, 26, averaged 12.3 points, 4.1 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.2 steals in 24.9 minutes per game off of Denver's bench last season.
Smith signed to play for the Zhejiang Wanma Cyclones during the lockout, inking a 1-year deal worth a reported $3 million back in September. The contract did not include an NBA opt-out, meaning Smith was stuck with Zhejiang until their season ended.
According to Asia-Basket.com, Smith is averaging 35.1 points, 7.2 rebounds and 4.3 assists for Zhejiang this season. Smith's scoring average was tops in the CBA this season but multiple incidents involving his sister and girlfriend getting into altercations with fans at his games became major international headlines.
Sportando.net reported this week that Zhejiang is now mathematically eliminated from playoff contention in the CBA, so all of that is in the past. Had Smith's team qualified for the 3-round playoff format, he could have been stuck in China through the end of March.
Smith's Twitter profile description now includes a list of NBA teams he could sign with: the New York Knicks, Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers, Chicago Bulls, Orlando Magic and Indiana Pacers. The Knicks are generally considered the odds-on favorites to land him but he's been linked to a bunch of teams in rumors.
On Friday night, Smith tweeted: "Got a few interesting texts after the NY vs LA game!" The Knicks, thanks to a career-high 38 points from guard Jeremy Lin, defeated the Lakers, 92-85, at Madison Square Garden.
Hat tip: HoopsHype.com