Free-agent buzz: Players seek way out of China

Denver Nuggets free agents J.R. Smith(notes) and Wilson Chandler(notes) are still pursuing ways to get out of their Chinese Basketball Association contracts but have yet to find a prompt avenue back to the NBA, sources told Yahoo! Sports.

Smith and Chandler play for the Zhejiang Chouzhou Golden Bulls and Zhejiang Guangsha Lions, respectively, and sources said those teams could be willing to agree to steep buyouts to let the players return to the NBA. The players would have to return all the salary they’ve made, plus agent fees and an additional $1 million to satisfy owners – but that still won’t assure them they could play in the NBA.

As a member of FIBA, the government-run Chinese Basketball Association would still control the players’ letters of clearance, and sources in China insist the league has no interest in allowing the NBA players to leave before season’s end in March. NBA teams can’t sign free agents without letters of clearance showing the players are free of contract breaches elsewhere in the world.

The Chinese teams could still face the forfeiture of games if the players they’ve released re-sign in the NBA before the end of the season. Smith was the league's most recent Player of the Week after a 52-point, 22-rebound performance. Chandler is second in the league in scoring with 32 points per game, trailing American Lester Hudson(notes) (33.7), according to

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“If they do it for one player, they’ll have do it for all of them,” one CBA source said.

This is why the Chinese Basketball Association wanted contract language insisting players and agents understood there would be no out-clauses issued should the NBA lockout end early. Several players, including Kenyon Martin(notes), have become more resigned to the fact that they’ll have to play out the duration of the Chinese season.

“Right now, they’re still stuck,” one CBA source said.

Contenders interested in Prince

Free-agent forward Tayshaun Prince is receiving interest from the Detroit Pistons, Chicago Bulls, Miami Heat, San Antonio Spurs and the Los Angeles Clippers, a league source said. A frontrunner has yet to emerge among the suitors.

Prince has spent his entire nine-year career with the Pistons. He averaged 14.1 points and 4.2 rebounds last season.

Nets' Outlaw breaks hand

New Jersey Nets forward Travis Outlaw had minor wrist surgery two months ago after injuring himself while engaging in boxing training, a source told Yahoo! Sports.

Outlaw has been recovering from the injury and is expected to be ready for the start of the 2011-12 NBA season. The Nets released a statement stating he will be evaluated by the team's doctors this week.

While New Jersey is considering using its amnesty clause on Outlaw and the four years and $28 million remaining on his contract, franchise officials have yet to contact Outlaw's representatives about their plans.

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