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J.R. Smith Almost Out Of China, NBA Return Is Imminent

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.

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