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NBA Free Agency 2011: J.R. Smith, Wilson Chandler Stuck In China

According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, several NBA players are having a tough time leaving their contracts with the Chinese Basketball Association. Wojnarowski reports that Denver Nuggets free agents J.R. Smith and Wilson Chandler are both attempting to return to the suddenly resuscitated NBA, but are facing potentially steep costs in doing so:

The players would have to return all the salary they’ve made, plus agent fees and an additional $1 million to satisfy owners – but that still won’t assure them they could play in the NBA.

As a member of FIBA, the government-run Chinese Basketball Association would still control the players’ letters of clearance, and sources in China insist the league has no interest in allowing the NBA players to leave before season’s end.

Smith and Chandler both went to China's top league during a particularly dark time during the collective bargaining agreement negotiations this off-season, so it appeared unlikely they would suffer from the Chinese league's harsh rules on changing teams.

Now, the players appear stuck unless they are willing to hurt themselves financially and damage even their current Chinese teams:

The Chinese teams could still face the forfeiture of games if the players they’ve released re-sign in the NBA before the end of the season.

The Chinese Basketball Association league's season ends in late March of 2012.

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