Sep 8, 2011, 12:34 PM EDT
This has reality show written all over it.
J.R. Smith — one of the best off-the-bench scorers in the NBA who brings with him some attitude and a distaste for authority — is close to signing a deal to play a full season in China, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo.
Under terms of the deal, Smith would make more than $3 million to play the 2011-12 season with Shanxi, but lose his chance at unrestricted free agency prior to the start of the NBA season.
China’s league has blocked opt-out clauses to return when the NBA lockout is solved — if you go to China, you go for the full season. Smith is a free agent so he can certainly sign overseas, but at age 26 he would have multiple NBA suitors offering multi-year contracts. Those will be there next season, too, providing he doesn’t get injured (which is the big risk).
This would be a blow to the Nuggets, who would have now lost Wilson Chandler and Smith to Chinese teams.
Smith is… unique. On the court he would become the best player in the Chinese Basketball Association, an athletic swingman who can shoot the three and put the ball on the floor and get to the rim. He also does not shy away from big moments and big shots. Really, he doesn’t shy away from any shot.
But he also is a strong personality that tends to clash with authority figures, which would be interesting (to say the least) in China. The culture clash should make a show as good as anything on the court.
If it happens. He still has to walk away from NBA free agency and sign on the line that is dotted.
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