J.R. Smith, Wilson Chandler & Kenyon Martin: Will a Nugget win a championship -- in China?
Even though the NBA season is in serious doubt, several Denver Nuggets will be in action soon.
But it'll be a tough commute for local fans to see them in person -- since J.R. Smith and Wilson Chandler, possibly joined by Kenyon Martin, are expected to be ballin' it up in China.
Chandler was the first Nug to make a deal to head east, inking a pact late last month with Zhejiang Guangsha of the Chinese Basketball Association. Now, news is breaking that Smith has signed with Zhejiang Wanma, a rival of Chandler's new squad. Here's how J.R. described his decision on his newish Twitter feed:
In addition, reports continue to circulate that K-Mart is looking at offers to play for the other CBA, too.
The trio's contract status is a factor in these moves, which would preclude them for playing in the NBA until their commitment to the Chinese squad is complete. Chandler is a restricted free agent, while both Smith and Martin have no restrictions on them whatsoever -- and there have been real questions about whether the latter pair were part of the Nugs' plans for the future. Around playoff time last year, Smith supplemented his whining about on-court time with hints that he wouldn't re-sign with Denver -- not that any offers have been publicly floated. And Martin's injury history suggests that the squad won't pony up big bucks to keep him in powder blue -- which may be why he just sold his Denver-area home for $1.2 million less than the original asking price.
In contrast, the Nuggets likely want to keep Chandler around, and they may be able to do so, particularly if the NBA season doesn't happen. And given the lack of optimism among players and ownership that a peace treaty can be brokered, odds are growing that we'll be pro-basketball-free around here for a long time to come.
These particular Nuggets are still taking a risk, but one not as large as might seem evident at first blush. Consider another recent J.R. tweet:
That's an exaggeration, no doubt -- but with the NBA season in jeopardy, heading to China is a surefire way to a nice salary. And J.R. has always been about getting paid.
More from our Sports archive: "J.R. Smith for riding scooter without license -- but is minor bust reminder of major problems?"
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