Want to play in China this season? You better be an NBA free agent

The Chinese Basketball Association will not only pass on adding NBA players who demand an opt-out clause in their contracts, the league has decided not to allow any NBA workers who are currently under contract to join the CBA. This means Kobe Bryant, or Keith Bogans. And anyone who has an NBA contract set up for the "2011-12 season." Free agents, like Jamal Crawford or Anthony Parker, are fair game, and are more than welcome to head to China for the upcoming 2011-12 CBA season.

In need of a recap? The NBA signed a goodly chunk of its players to contracts that it shouldn't have, and now it regrets doing as much (though it looked so, so giddy announcing the deals at the time), so it's decided to stop paying its players. While still holding them under contract. While still not paying out that contract. I still don't get how that's legal -- but they're millionaires, dude! What about the firemen and schoolteachers?

The CBA, which has possibly been leaned upon by the NBA during the course of its decision-making, has decided to uncomplicate things and only attempt to sign NBA free agents. Presumably pushing for contracts that would not feature an opt-out clause that would allow those ex-free agents to jump back to an NBA team when and if the lockout ends.

And if all this sounds like needless semantics, then buy the next NBA agent you see a Coke and a smile on this summer Friday.


Because, for the last month and a half, NBA agents have been endlessly talking up supposed international gigs that were lined up for NBA players. Every morning you've woken up to a new line on a different website that features agent after agent swearing up and down that client after client is a handshake or signature away from signing with a team outside the NBA.

It's Aug. 19. The lockout has been in place since the first of July. When do these rumored defections start? And is it possible that it was all bluster, all along?

It sort of looks that way. And with China shutting the door to all but the NBA's free agents (Pooh Jeter -- go get yours!), another fake option has been taken away. Publicly.

Ouch. And whether the NBA had any influence in this or not, isn't this loss of fake leverage the latest sign that the NBA's players should consider giving in a little more as they "negotiate" the new collective bargaining agreement?

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