Report: China Doesn’t Want Kenyon Martin to Leave Yet

by February 03, 2012

Kenyon Martin’s basketball liberation from China and his return to the NBA was expected to happen within a week or so, but according to Yahoo! Sports, things are a little more complicated than that: “China has forwarded an affidavit to FIBA and the NBA – signed by Martin upon his departure in late December – that stipulates he wouldn’t play in the NBA until his Xinjiang Guanghui Flying Tigers’ season had ended. China is demanding the contract be honored and Martin have to wait until the Flying Tigers finish their season. The Flying Tigers have six games left and need a winning streak to catapult them into the playoffs. Their final regular-season game is Feb. 16. Chinese Basketball Association officials are insisting the clearance letter request was deliberately sent to their office over the New Year when they wouldn’t be available to respond. After seven days without a response, FIBA’s guidelines allow it to issue the letter of clearance that all international leagues – including the NBA – need to validate that a player has fulfilled contractual obligations elsewhere. In truth, Martin is expected to work out for a week with any NBA team he joins before becoming activated. So even if the NBA reverses its ruling, Martin could likely still be back on the floor in two weeks. China carries significant importance for the NBA commissioner David Stern, who has worked relentlessly to cultivate a business partnership with his league and the world’s largest country. What’s more, there’s been a strong belief within the global basketball community that the NBA discouraged China from signing its players under contract during the lockout. Several teams were close to negotiating deals with such stars as Kobe Bryant, Blake Griffin and Tony Parker before the CBA declared its teams would only sign free agents. Other American players in China and their agents are irate over Martin’s early clearance to return to the NBA. J.R. Smith and Wilson Chandler were pleading cases on Thursday about getting themselves out of China and back to the NBA sooner than later. ‘Right now, it’s a huge distraction for teams,’ one international official said. ‘Players are angry, want out now, and this is a huge investment that’s blowing up in the face of [Chinese] teams and owners.'”