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J.R. Smith is playing with former teammate Carmelo Anthony and the New York Knicks after a stint in China that had its issues. The competition for Smith involved ambushes at airports, but were the Denver Nuggets ever interested in bringing back the shooter? No, they weren't, according to an article written by Chris Tomasson for Denver Stiffs:
"I kind of expected it just from the way everything was,’’ Smith said before the Knicks’ game Thursday at Miami about never hearing anything from the Nuggets, who are well stocked with perimeter players. "It was kind like a no-brainer at the end of the day.’’
The Nuggets have Arron Afflalo and Danilo Gallinari (injured) who start at shooting guard and at small forward while Corey Brewer and Rudy Fernandez also play those positions. The latter two were acquired right before the season began at the end of December, which really should have been a sign that the team didn't want Smith back.
J.R. Smith has decided to sign with the New York Knicks, but it isn't a done deal yet, according to Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski. The contract has not yet received Smith's signature, but Wojnarowski also reports that a second year will be on the books as a player option. The total worth of the contract would be worth $4.3 million if that report holds true.
Smith was one of three former Denver Nuggets who went over to China during the NBA lockout. Kenyon Martin was the first to return and he joined up with the Los Angeles Clippers, also a suitor for Smith. Wilson Chandler was the third player and he is currently still in China since his Chinese Basketball Association team is in the playoffs. He is set to join the Nuggets once again. He is a restricted free agent.
Free agent shooting guard J.R. Smith announced on Friday morning via his Twitter page that he will sign with the New York Knicks, saying "New York Knicks It Is!" Smith will likely receive the full $2.5 million exception available to the team, and Tommy Dee of TKB is reporting that the Knicks will release Renaldo Balkman to make room for J.R. after failing to free up a roster spot via trade.
Smith had been deciding between the L.A. Clippers and New York Knicks, and things got pretty aggressive in the final push for his services. John Canzano of The Oregonian reports that after Clippers head coach Vinny Del Negro offered the starting SG job to Smith via text message, the Knicks made sure the free agent sharpshooter never got on the plane to L.A.
Things got so interesting Thursday that Smith hopped a plane from China to LAX, arriving at the airport in the late afternoon, where he was intercepted, his camp said, by a representative for the Knicks.
Now the mercurial guard will join up with Jeremy Lin, Carmelo Anthony, Amar'e Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler as the Knicks try to sustain their red-hot charge into the heart of the Eastern Conference playoff race, and joins an offense that will encourage him to launch three-point shots early and often.
Earlier Thursday afternoon, rumors suggested that former Denver Nuggets guard J.R. Smith was nearing a deal with the New York Knicks. According to Alex Kennedy, who spoke with Smith, that is indeed true.
I just spoke to J.R. Smith. He confirmed that he's nearing a deal with the New York Knicks.— Alex Kennedy (@AlexKennedyNBA) February 16, 2012
Smith, who has been playing overseas in China, has spent the last five seasons with the Denver Nuggets. Last season he averaged 12.3 points per game primarily as a bench player and hit 39% of his three-point attempts. It appears as though Denver was never an option for his services this season.
The Denver Nuggets may lose out their homecoming free agent guard J.R. Smith to the league's latest sensation: Jeremy Lin and the New York Knicks. According to Frank Isola of the New York Daily News, the former Nugget may become a Knickerbocker before long:
Knicks closing in on a deal for JR Smith, Daily News has learned. Need to cut a player. Two weeks earlier and it could have been Jeremy Lin— Frank Isola (@FisolaNYDN) February 16, 2012
The Knicks have launched themselves into the public spotlight after a seven-game win streak has put them at .500 in the 2011-12 NBA season. The team has owed much of its recent success to surprise breakout point guard Jeremy Lin, the 23-year-old Harvard grad who is averaging 23 points and 9.2 assists per 36 minutes.
Smith played in Denver from 2006 through 2011, but went to play in China during the NBA lockout. At the conclusion of the lockout, he found himself stuck in his Chinese contract and only recently has been able to become an NBA free agent. The Nuggets are not believed to be seeking his services.
Denver Nuggets free agent J.R. Smith has been making the rounds trying to find his next landing spot in the NBA, and has already tweeted out a list of preferred destinations on his Twitter page: "NYK? LAL? LAC? CHI? ORL? iNDI?" He has spoken with Mike Brown of the L.A. Lakers and Vinny Del Negro of the L.A. Clippers already, but it appears that the Orlando Magic can be crossed off the list. The Orlando Sentinel reports that GM Otis Smith has indicated that the team is not interested in adding the mercurial guard to the mix.
With Orlando seemingly off the table, it appears that the Clippers, Lakers and Knicks are emerging as the favorites to obtain Smith's services. The 26 year old shooting guard has a career average of 12.5 points per game and shoots 37.1 percent from beyond the arc.
J.R. Smith's return to the NBA is close at hand with his season in the Chinese Basketball Association ending on Wednesday. On Tuesday, Smith tweeted that he spoke with Los Angeles Lakers' head coach Mike Brown, which was later confirmed by the coach himself.
Just had a great talk with Coach Brown!— JR Smith (@TheRealJRSmith) February 14, 2012
The Lakers are one of several teams that are vying to pick up the former Denver Nuggets guard. Smith does have his finalists appear on the top of his Twitter page: "NYK? LAL? LAC? CHI? ORL? iNDI?" The two Los Angeles teams appear to be front-runners. Clippers guard Chris Paul has been lobbying for Smith, and the conversation between Brown and Smith could make this tough fight between the two teams.
Denver Nuggets free agent J.R. Smith is just days away from returning to the NBA, but, unlike former teammate Kenyon Martin, he has yet to make a decision on his future team. It's not going to be with the Nuggets, as we've long known. But Martin might not be alone when he joins the Los Angeles Clippers. Smith is a target of the Clippers, and superstar Chris Paul wants to have Smith with him, as reported by ESPN Marc Stein.
If Smith signs with the Clippers, Los Angeles would have three former Nuggets this season with Chauncey Billups being the third player. However, he injured his Achilles and is out for the remainder of the season.
Former Denver Nuggets guard and current unrestricted free agent J.R. Smith has been playing out his contract in the Chinese Basketball Association with the Zhejiang Golden Bulls, and while he has certainly experienced some clashes along the way, he has also continued to play the explosive style of basketball that will make him attractive on the open market when he rejoins the NBA in the near future. On Thursday, Smith's move to the NBA may have accelerated, as the Golden Bulls were mathematically eliminated from playoff contention after their loss to Guangsha.
As an unrestricted free agent during the NBA lockout, Smith chose to sign a non-opt-out contract in the Chinese Basketball Association, but now that his team has been eliminated from the playoff picture he should be able to return to the NBA soon. The CBA regular season officially ends on Feb. 15, and the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) recently provided clearance for Kenyon Martin to be released from his CBA deal to rejoin the NBA.
Smith is still a dynamite back-court scorer, and has been linked to the New York Knicks as a possible destination when he hits the open market. The Denver Nuggets have been dealing with a rash of injuries and have struggled recently, but they have not been added to the speculation quite yet.
The Denver Nuggets moved on from J.R. Smith some time ago and especially with the acquisitions of Rudy Fernandez and Corey Brewer before the start of the season. Plus, Smith was over in China and expected play out the season there. However, it appears that the New York Knicks are making an effort to coax Smith out of the CBA and back to the NBA early. The Knicks Blog cites a Wall Street Journal report that mentions "provisions" for Smith to remunerate his CBA team if he did not play out his contract. Then TBK continues:
Multiple sources (waiting on confirmation) have told TKB that the Knicks would love to and are actively looking to add the former Nuggets’ sharpshooter to help their backcourt woes.
The Knicks are also expecting point guard Baron Davis to come back in late January or early February to help out with those issues that Smith is able to do as well. However, at this point there doesn't seem to be a concerted effort for this to happen.
The NBA season has already started, but players that signed on to play in China during the lockout are still there due to a Chinese league policy preventing players from leaving upon the lockout's conclusion. The lockout is obviously been over for a while, but players like former Denver Nuggets guard J.R. Smith are being forced to wait until the Chinese season is over to return to the NBA.
According to Smith's Twitter feed, he expects his season in China to end in March, but he notes that it could happen earlier if the team struggles. Smith, currently playing for the Zhejiang Golden Bulls, was named the Chinese league's international player of the week during his second week with the team.
Zhejiang is currently 9-6 on the year, one of the better teams in the league. Smith's current teammates include former Connecticut star Josh Boone, who left the NBA after the 2009-2010 season.
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.
It sounds like the plot to a bad action movie: Two Americans, held captive in China. Will they ever be released? Well, this time it's not a bad action movie, especially because J.R. Smith in China probably qualifies more as a comedy. ESPN's Mark Stein reported on Monday that despite a "no opt-out" clause that was reportedly locked in to any contract signed by an American player with a team in the Chinese Basketball Association, it is expected that Smith and Wilson Chandler, two of the three Nuggets currently hooping in the Far East, will be released by their respective teams if and when the NBA lockout ends.
So, how would Smith and Chandler be able to return home even though their contracts supposedly prevent that from happening? Well, the two players can't just walk away from their duties with their Chinese teams, but the Chinese teams can wave the two players, and at that point the players would be free to do whatever they pleased, which presumably wouldn't involve signing with the CBA version of the Cleveland Cavaliers. So yes, contract loopholes. Is there anything more American?
As for that third Nugget... well, Kenyon Martin might not be so lucky. It's believed that Xinjiang, the Chinese team that Martin is currently playing for, would want him to stay, and at that point, Martin would have no recourse. Unless, of course, he can get Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker on the phone.
Initial reports of J.R. Smith signing with a Chinese Basketball Association team have now been confirmed, reports Benjamin Hochman of the Denver Post. Smith's agent, Leon Rose, wrote in an e-mail that
"His decision to accept the deal was based on the uncertainty of the NBA labor negotiations, a significant offer from the club and the unique opportunity to play the game he loves in another country that loves its basketball."
Should the NBA and the players reach an agreement to end the lockout, Smith would not be able to play in the NBA until his CBA contract expires. The CBA passed a rule that forbids teams from allowing opt-out clauses in contracts. He could play the final weeks of the NBA season since China's play ends in mid-March (depending on playoffs).
As Hochman points out, Smith was an unrestricted free agent and was not a lock to re-sign with the Nuggets. With Smith and Wilson Chandler for the season (if there is one), the Nuggets now have Arron Afflalo, Danilo Gallinari and rookie Jordan Hamilton to play shooting guard or small forward.
Denver Nuggets free agent J.R. Smith won't be back in the NBA any time soon if a new collective bargaining agreement is reached, ending the current lockout. Smith has signed a contract with Zhejiang Wanma of the Chinese Basketball Association, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports. Financial terms of the one-year deal have not yet been learned, but when rumors first broke of this, he was supposedly going to receive $3 million for the year, a record contract in the CBA.
Wojnarowski further reports that Smith was close to a deal with Shanxi, but they backed out at the last moment. Smith now joins teammate Wilson Chandler as another big-name NBA player to sign with a Chinese team. Kenyon Martin is reportedly also in discussions to play in China this upcoming season.
Should the NBA start back up before Wilson's and Smith's contracts end in March, neither of the two is able to return until their deals end. The CBA only accepts NBA players not under a current contract and does not provide opt-out clauses.
For more on the Nuggets, visit Denver Stiffs.
J.R. Smith is reportedly joining Denver Nuggets teammate Wilson Chandler in China. Smith might sign the richest contract in CBA history.
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