No Escape Clauses for NBA Players in China?

by November 29, 2011

The Chinese Basketball Association warned NBA players that they wouldn’t be able to get out of their deals should the lockout suddenly come to an end, and they seem to have meant it. From Yahoo! Sports: “Wilson Chandler, Kenyon Martin, J.R. Smith and Aaron Brooks are the four top NBA players under contract in China, and several sources involved in those contract entanglements said escape clauses won’t be allowed with the impending end of the NBA lockout. The Chinese Basketball Association passed a rule that its teams could sign only NBA free agents during the lockout, and it was made clear to those players they would have to play the full season to be given FIBA clearance letters to sign contracts with NBA teams. Smith has had multiple clashes with his team, and some Chinese officials fear players becoming obstinate and purposely missing practices and games once they realize they’ll be held to their contracts. Team officials have prepared for the possibility some players could try to force their way out of deals, but their contracts give teams the latitude to fine and suspend players without pay. Chinese teams invested heavily when they signed NBA players, also providing hotel suites, personal drivers and chefs to make the players more comfortable. ‘They can play, get paid [in China] and return to the NBA in March,’ one Chinese team official said. ‘Or they can not get paid, and return to the NBA in March.’ As a member of FIBA, the NBA needs a letter of clearance from Chinese teams to allow players to sign NBA deals. Chinese teams could face forfeiture of any games that NBA players participated in, if the players somehow end up back in the NBA before the Chinese season ends. ‘If they think that they’re going to make things difficult, not play, create problems, what’s going to happen is that the teams will not release their letters of clearance they’ll need to sign in the NBA,’ a Chinese Basketball Association official [said]. ‘There’s no way out.'”