NBA AM: Players In China May Have Options
Some Truths About China: The Denver Nuggets won’t be holding Egg Roll night at the Pepsi Center after losing not only restricted free agent Wilson Chandler to the Chinese Basketball Association but now it seems that J.R. Smith will be heading to the Far East as well after agreeing to the framework of a one-year deal with the Shanxi Zhongyu Brave Dragons. Smith’s one-year deal could be worth as much as $3 million for a single season and could be the richest deal given to a basketball player in CBA history.
While the CBA has ruled that its teams cannot issue contracts with NBA-out clauses in them, a couple of agents with clients overseas point out there are still options for those players that have agreed to binding deals in China.
The biggest being that CBA teams can at any time cut players, especially if those players are under performing or are seriously injured. If Wilson Chandler comes up injured at the end of the season his team in China may opt to cut him, leaving him free to re-join the NBA.
The other notable wrinkle is that the CBA season is somewhat shorter than the NBA season. The CBA regular season ends in March with its championship game held in late April.
If the Shanxi Zhongyu Brave Dragons who signed J.R. Smith are eliminated early from the playoffs J.R. would be free to join a NBA teams as an unrestricted free agent just in time for the NBA Playoffs. The same holds true for Orlando’s Earl Clark. Wilson Chandler will be a restricted free agent at the end of his Chinese season, but could still be added if the Nuggets or another team makes an offer.
The CBA is not going to allow its teams to play gray areas on these deals, but if legitimate injury hits, players can and are often cut lose. Once the season end the NBA has no restriction on players joining teams mid-season.
So while China seems like a locked in situation, there are a few wrinkles that could see player like J.R. Smith and Wilson Chandler back in the NBA, it just won’t be for training camps and pre-season – if there is a labor deal.
Decertification: A large number of you continue to openly question why the NBA Players have not opted to decertify their union as a means to force the Owners’ hand in the ongoing labor fight.
There are a couple of things to know about the concept of decertification, the first being what decertification really means.
If the Players’ Association opts to decertify it means the union as a whole votes to forfeit its rights to negotiate as a group. It also means they surrender their group privileges and status as a singular body.
It also means the Players’ Association, namely union head Billy Hunter loses the power to negotiate on the Players behalf and that individual players can sue in Federal court for the right to work as individuals.
This is a powerful tool, but in reality it’s the nuclear option in the NBA.
Pundits point to the NFL Players’ decision to decertify and the leverage they gained in having ongoing lawsuits with treble damages hanging in the balance as a means to force progress in their talks.
Treble damages amounts to three-times actual damages if the Players were to win their lawsuit. It’s a hefty hammer used to reach a deal before the lawsuit reaches a jury.
The difference between the NBA fight and the NFL fight is the NFL labor agreement specifically defined that the Players’ union had to decertify early or they were bound as a union. It was a clever play by the NFL that does not exist in the NBA deal with the Players’ Association.
The Players Association says it still has the hammer of decertification at its disposal, but understands if the NBA Players use decertification, the odds of a season may go out the window.
If the Players were to decertify the existing contracts on the books could, and in most cases, would be shredded as almost all of the terms are collectively bargained terms that would no longer exist if the Players’ Association decertifies.
The NBA has already filed motions suggesting that decertification would be a willful forfeit of existing contracts by the players.
The other problem in the NBA’s situation is unlike the NFL which is wildly profitable would likely have lost a jury fight; the NBA is losing money and can show audited tax documents to support that claim. The NFL Owners did not want their financial documents floating around the legal system.
The NBA has no problems with their books being out there because it supports their claim that the current system is unsustainable.
The NBA Players’ Association could decertify and force an Anti-trust court case and lose, meaning the NBA and its owners would gain the ability to force through whatever rule set they want.
So the situation is very different because of where each league stands financially.
The NFL Players’ play at decertification worked because they knew they could win a legal fight, the NBA Players’ decision not to decertify should signal that they don’t feel they can win a legal fight just yet.
Sources close to the ongoing talks warned not to read too much into the pace of talks and the fact that both sides are aggressively meeting again, saying this is what both sides have to do.
There still seems to be a tremendous gap in what both sides view as a workable deal, but there does appear to be progress in the conversational tone, so we’ll see how it plays out.
Decertification is still very much an option for the NBA Players, but it hasn’t been used yet because it would destroy the league and what the Players’ do not want to do is be the ones that kill the goose, they still believe a deal can be made in the room.
If that does not occur, decertification comes next.
Vegas After All: For those of us that cover the NBA, the annual NBA Summer League in Las Vegas becomes a welcome break from the doldrums of the off-season. With the NBA locked out this summer it seemed a little odd not to be preparing for two weeks in the desert and the hangovers that accompany having so many friends in one place, especially Las Vegas.
Admittedly covering five to six games a day from almost two weeks is not only excruciatingly difficult and mind numbing, but it’s a total immersion into the basketball world few get to experience fully.
As you have likely heard by now, world famous NBA trainer Joe Abunassar is organizing a massive end of summer tournament at his facility in Las Vegas next week and for those of us that are die-hard hoop junkies the summer chaos believed to have been missed due to the lockout seems to be taking shape.
The tournament will start on September 12th and run through September 23rd. As first reported by HOOPSWORLD’s Alex Kennedy, the tournament will feature games that start at 1:30, 3:30, 5:30 and 7:30pm each day.
Teams are being organized into eight man groups with most players gathering teammates from their NBA teams. So players like John Wall have invited fellow Wizard players such as Nick Young and Rashard Lewis to play on his team. Mo Williams is gathering his Clipper teammates. Kyle Lowry has been gathering Rockets players and Chauncey Billups has put the call out to the Knicks players not committed to other events.
In total 70 players are locked into rosters now, with more still trying to fit games into their schedule. The NBA Players Association has scheduled a labor update meeting in Vegas on Thursday the 15th as a result of the gathering for this tournament, so even more stars are expected to join in for a few games.
The committed roster of players looks like this:
|Chauncey Billups||Josh Selby||Ryan Hollins|
|Al Harrington||Sebastian Telfair||TJ Ford|
|Kyle Lowry||CJ Watson||Manny Harris|
|Dahntay Jones||Armon Johnson||Rashard Lewis|
|James Anderson||Avery Bradley||Isaiah Thomas|
|Marresse Speights||Jared Jeffries||Larry Hughes|
|Melvin Ely||Demar DeRozan||Jordan Hamilton|
|Jermaine O'Neal||Jamaal Tinsley||Willie Warren|
|Jared Dudley||Jordan Williams||Dorell Wright|
|Alan Anderson||Malcolm Lee||Paul George|
|Austin Daye||Ekpe Udoh||Corey Maggette|
|JJ Hickson||Bonzi Wells||Brandon Rush|
|John Wall||Al Farouq Aminu||Jordan Crawford|
|Zach Randolph||Xavier Silas||Nick Young|
|Wesley Matthews||Desmond Farmer||Kenyon Martin|
|Shelvin Mack||Corey Stokes||Josh Harrelson|
|Stephen Jackson||Larry Owens||Dominque Jones|
|Iman Shumpert||Hakim Warrick||Martell Webster|
|Derek Caracter||Courtney Lee||Jared Bayless|
|Shawne Williams||Morris Peterson||Tony Allen|
|Jimmy Butler||Channing Frye||Kawhi Leonard|
|Mo Williams||Damon Jones||Jeremy Evans|
|Roger Mason||Terrico White|
|Travis Leslie||Steph Curry|
The games are expected to be streamed online for free. 500 tickets for each day will be sold on-site at the IMPACT ticket office. If you are looking to attend swing by http://www.impactbball.com/ for details.
HOOPSWORLD’s Eric Pincus and myself will be in attendance, so look for exclusive interviews, video and updates throughout the tournament.
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NBA Chats: There are two NBA chats today starting with Yannis Koutroupis who will drop his weekly chat at 11am EST. Yannis serves as a Senior NBA Writer and the College Basketball Editor for HOOPSWORLD so get your questions in early as Yannis’ chats fill up fast. HOOPSWORLD’s Alex Kennedy will host his weekly NBA chat at 6pm EST. The chats do fill up fast, so getting in early always helps. If you are looking for the next NBA Chat, you can find them here: Upcoming NBA Chats.