It turns out that the three free agent Nuggets in China may have bit off more than they could chew. According to Yahoo!'s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Chinese Basketball Association has no intention of letting J.R. Smith, Kenyon Martin and Wilson Chandler out of their contracts now that the NBA and the players' union have reached an agreement to restart the season on Christmas Day.
Unlike some leagues in Europe and other countries that allowed NBA players to negotiate out-clauses into their deals, the CBA steadfastly refused to allow such clauses to be built into the contracts that the three Nuggets signed. There was speculation that the CBA teams of the respective players would waive the Americans if the NBA restarted, thus allowing them to come back to the U.S. freely, but at the moment it appears as if that loophole is off the table.
So, one final question: Why can't the three Nuggets just up and leave China and come back to the NBA? According to Wojnarowski, the NBA is a member of the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) and as such they recognize international contracts signed by players in other countries, which most often comes into play when international players are drafted by an NBA team.
As for the future of the Nuggets in China, their contracts expire in March. The three may attempt to hardball their Chinese teams by refusing to play, but Wojnarowski's source believes that the teams would stand firm, meaning that the players would both not be getting paid and be banned from signing an NBA contract. Worst comes to worst, the three can rejoin the NBA in March, but this is a story that's surely got many plot twists left in it.