NBA teams cleared to negotiate with Iranians

The Vertical
Yahoo! Sports

BEIJING – After receiving U.S. government approval, Iranian center Hamed Ehadadi has been cleared to sign with NBA teams, Yahoo! Sports has learned.

The NBA sent out an email to executives late Wednesday afternoon informing its 30 teams they were free to enter into negotiations with the 7-foot-2 Iranian Olympian, as well as one of his teammates on Iran’s national team: guard Mohammadsamad Nik Khahbahrami.

Just five days ago, the NBA had informed its general managers that they were forbidden to enter into negotiations with Ehadadi, pending a license from the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control. The license was granted and Ehadadi, 23, who averaged 16 points and 10 rebounds for winless Iran in Beijing, is a free agent.

On Friday, the NBA had told its teams, “We have been advised that a federal statue prohibits a person or organization in the United States from engaging in business dealings with Iranian nationals.”

Even with the clearance, the NBA ordered its teams Wednesday to contact the league office before signing either player to a contract because the OFAC license still “restricts the manner in which any financial payments can be made.” Teams also were urged to keep all documents related to any negotiations.

Several league executives believe the Memphis Grizzlies are the most likely to sign Ehadadi, who wasn’t chosen in the 2004 NBA Draft.

Commissioner David Stern invited the Iranian national team to compete in July’s NBA summer league in Utah, allowing the team a pre-Olympics tune-up. When NBA teams started to show an interest in signing Ehadadi, Stern had league counsel begin the process of clearing a path through this complicated circumstance with the U.S. State Department.

After his most impressive game of these Olympics – 21 points and 16 rebounds in a 97-82 loss to Argentina – Ehadadi, a center, said through an assistant coach, Mehran Hatami, “It is my dream to play in the NBA.”

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