Will Brooks, Chandler Return to NBA?
But most of the players who signed in China during the lockout are still there. The Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) allowed its teams to sign NBA players, but did not permit escape clauses letting those players return to the NBA when the lockout ended. As a result, Chinese teams could only sign NBA free agents during the lockout, and not players who were under NBA contracts. Any players who signed in China had to play the full season there, and could not return home early.
As such, several NBA free agents – most notably Aaron Brooks, Wilson Chandler, and J.R. Smith – are awaiting the expiration of their Chinese contracts before they can return to the NBA. Each is bound to his team until its final game, either regular season or playoffs. The CBA regular season ends on February 15, with the playoffs scheduled to start on February 22. Postseason play could last as long as March 30.
This poses an additional problem for Brooks and Chandler, who are restricted free agents. Under normal circumstances a restricted free agent can sign an offer sheet with the team of his choice, and the player’s prior team is given the opportunity to retain the player by matching the principal terms of the offer. If the team fails to match the offer (the time limit is three days), the offer sheet becomes a contract with the new team.