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Trapped In China?
December 2, 2011 12:04 PM   Subscribe

Anticipating a season long lockout, several NBA players signed contracts with teams in the Chinese Basketball Association. Now that a labor deal has been reached, leaving for the NBA won't be easy.
posted by reenum (25 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
OK, yes good article but also WOOOOHOOO THANK YOU LORD THE NBA IS BACK!

I can finally stop pretending I like football.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 12:08 PM on December 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


Some players are even trying to faking injuries to try and get outta China. Not gonna work Smitty!
posted by Potomac Avenue at 12:17 PM on December 2, 2011


Salary cap of $60,000/month in the CBA. How will they possibly survive?
posted by jimmythefish at 12:19 PM on December 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's not just that, jimmythefish--they are having a hard time finding a person chef who cooks what they like AND they often have to ride a bus. Dammit, I'm about to cry.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 12:36 PM on December 2, 2011


While the Flying Tigers provided Martin with a driver and a personal chef, Miller said there have been some "growing pains" when it comes to cuisine. Martin went through three or four chefs until he found one who could prepare Western-style food to his satisfaction.

Oh my, he had to go through 3 or 4 chefs??? The horror!
posted by Big_B at 12:36 PM on December 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


Human trafficking stories like this tug at the heartstrings.
posted by cjorgensen at 12:36 PM on December 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


personal* chef. I assume the chefs are persons. BUT WHAT IF THEY AREN'T?
posted by Pater Aletheias at 12:36 PM on December 2, 2011


They should have stayed local and married fame whores instead! (Am I allowed to say that?) PS As a HS teacher in NYC, I have been loving the lockout. No post-game screaming analyses in class the next day. /sorry for lowering tone of discourse. (Speaking of lockouts, I was locked out of the article by WSJ btw)
posted by bquarters at 12:42 PM on December 2, 2011


Salary cap of $60,000/month in the CBA. How will they possibly survive?

They're trapped in one job when they'd rather be working a different one; I feel bad for them no matter how much money they make.

Also, talk like this just reinforces the "overpaid players" nonsense that turns fans on the unions and causes them to back the even richer owners.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 12:46 PM on December 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


They trapped themselves in that job. I'm not exactly a fan of the owners of sports teams, but since some people signed contracts that had opt-out provisions (not in China but elsewhere) it seems to have been possible to do it. And of course they can leave if they pay a fine -- they just cannot then play in the NBA.
posted by jeather at 12:48 PM on December 2, 2011


I'm interested in how rigidly the NBA would view its obligation to "honor" international contracts. If an NBA team signs one of these players, would it necessarily be failing to "honor" the player's Chinese contract if the player leaves his Chinese team but pays them appropriate damages? Or was there actually something like a non-compete provision in these deals that explicitly prevents them from playing in the NBA?

Bottom line, I'm surprised if any one of these players isn't back in the NBA by January.
posted by dixiecupdrinking at 1:00 PM on December 2, 2011


They trapped themselves in that job. I'm not exactly a fan of the owners of sports teams, but since some people signed contracts that had opt-out provisions (not in China but elsewhere) it seems to have been possible to do it. And of course they can leave if they pay a fine -- they just cannot then play in the NBA.

Honestly, I'd be curious to see what happened if one of these players left, paid the fine, and then an NBA team tried to sign him, because this sounds like an incredibly broad non-compete agreement that an American court would probably balk at enforcing.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 1:01 PM on December 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm interested in how rigidly the NBA would view its obligation to "honor" international contracts

Me too actually; I could be wrong but I get the impression that in pro hockey the NHL in North America and the KHL in Russia haven't exactly been on good terms with respect to players' contracts.
posted by Hoopo at 1:14 PM on December 2, 2011


Me too actually; I could be wrong but I get the impression that in pro hockey the NHL in North America and the KHL in Russia haven't exactly been on good terms with respect to players' contracts.

That seems like a fair enough comparison to me, and I don't believe the KHL paid any repercussions whatsoever for ignoring Alexander Radulov's contract with the Predators, and per the Wikipedia, at least, "the IIHF suspended Radulov from international play on July 18 as investigations continued, a suspension that was lifted soon enough as it appeared there was no legal ground to suspend Radulov," so I'm not sure if there's anything preventing the NBA from just signing these guys and letting the Chinese stew over it.
posted by Copronymus at 1:33 PM on December 2, 2011


What's funny is that all of these players mentioned are near-starting-caliber NBA players, with the exception of Patty Mills. I'm not going to be surprised when the Chinese league ends around March and these guys are hot commodities - between injuries, poor chemistry, and random underperforming NBA players, I think they're all in a position to get paid better than they would have otherwise simply by signing midway through the season.

What's also kinda bizarre (and not frequently mentioned) is that three of these five guys (Martin, Chandler, Smith) were major contributors for the Denver Nuggets last year, who are also set to lose their star center, Nene, to free agency. Not even sure who is left on the Nuggets anymore, aside from the Birdman.
posted by antonymous at 1:36 PM on December 2, 2011


Well it looks like this FIBA has an international arbitration arm, so I suppose that's where these international, interleague contract issues would have to be hashed out.
posted by dixiecupdrinking at 1:41 PM on December 2, 2011


Why not a base "league" salary paid to every player funded by progressive taxation on teams?

Then clubs are then free to use the remainder to attract varying amounts of talent. Players get flow on effects from successful teams while struggling teams have some financial heat taken off them?

Or am I just a dreamer?
posted by Talez at 1:58 PM on December 2, 2011


Pater Alethias: It's not just that, jimmythefish--they are having a hard time finding a person chef who cooks what they like

Mmmm, long pork.
posted by Malor at 2:02 PM on December 2, 2011


I like the closing quote, that one of the players "has matured and is experiencing a lot." That was my thought as I read through the story. Maybe long bus rides will dull prima-donna tendencies. Maybe a salary of (only) $60,000 per month will strengthen some fiscal discipline. Maybe these guys won't enjoy another four whole months of being marooned (personal chefs and all), but most experiences have benefits to them and maybe these guys will come back better for it.
posted by red clover at 3:06 PM on December 2, 2011


Why not a base "league" salary paid to every player funded by progressive taxation on teams?

Is this different from a minimum salary? Because the NBA does have one of those based on years in the league. As of the last CBA it looked like this.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 3:23 PM on December 2, 2011


At the time that they signed the contracts there was a lot of speculation that the teams would honor a handshake deal to release the players in time for the NBA. This could still happen; NBA free-agency doesn't start for another week and the season doesn't start until Christmas day.

They teams might keep the players, anyway, but you never know.
posted by oddman at 3:31 PM on December 2, 2011


I'm a little baffled. The article's making out like they're in this dreadful situation, trapped in China, but two of the three American players discussed in the article (or perhaps more precisely their agents) are acting like perfectly reasonable people and saying they understood that they were contractually obligated to play the entire Chinese season. I don't know, it seems like the WSJ wants them to be outraged and they're not.

Actually, now that I think about it, I see some similarities with David Beckham's situation. I believe the Galaxy could have taken a stand and been less receptive to Beckham's ventures to Italy to retain an international career.
posted by hoyland at 4:29 PM on December 2, 2011


This thread could do without a lot of the dog whistle crap about how not sorry folks are to hear about young black players making too much money having work difficulties. I fully expect that crap from fox and the WSJ (noted for tending to back owners over labor), not MeFi.

As for one of the good questions raised, it's highly unlikely the NBA would do anything to help a player break their contract in the CBA. Aside from how vindictive Stern has become, he's worked very, very hard to open up the Chinese market. Bringing Yao Ming (and Wang Zhi Zhi) to the NBA took a lot of concessions, and managed to open up a huge market for the league. If China isn't the second largest market for the NBA, it won't be long before it is. It's also a massive talent pool fully controlled by a government that isn't afraid to tell the NBA to go away. Chinese players in the NBA bring viewers and consumers in a way that other countries don't. The NBA isn't about to do anything to jeopardize that for Kenyon Martin (image to most non-fans: aging thug) or J. R. Smith (head case).

Bottom line: these players got some lousy advice. There was never a huge demand for NBA players overseas, and the players that went to Europe are on their way home because they and their agents found other teams but left the door open in case the season started.
posted by Ghidorah at 12:12 AM on December 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


For anyone curious like me, there are no less than three Lions teams and three Tigers teams in the CBA:

Zhejiang Chouzhou Golden Bulls
Liaoning Dinosaurs
Shanxi Zhongyu Brave Dragons
Jiangsu Nangang Dragons
Guangdong Foshan Dralions
Beijing Shougang Ducks
Qingdao Double Star Eagles
DongGuan New Century Leopards
Tianjin Ronggang Gold Lions
Zhejiang Guangsha Lions
Shandong Kingston Lions
Bayi Fubang Rockets
Shanghai Dongfang Sharks
Fujian SBS Sturgeons
Xinjiang Guanghui Flying Tigers
Jilin GBT Northeast Tigers
Guangdong Hongyuan Southern Tigers

posted by Rhomboid at 1:17 AM on December 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Dralions

Well, this guy has a new favorite CBA team.
posted by auto-correct at 11:03 PM on December 8, 2011


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