Posted on: February 17, 2012 11:12 am
Edited on: February 17, 2012 2:13 pm

Report: Wilson Chandler to return next week

Wilson Chandler is reportedly headed back to the United States next week from China. (Getty Images)
By Matt Moore 

With Kenyon Martin and J.R. Smith back in the states and signed with new teams, Wilson Chandler and Aaron Brooks remain the last two NBA players to head to China during the lockout still yet to return to the league. But that could be changing quickly as ESPN reports that Chandler could return as soon as next week thanks to an agreement with his Chinese team to leave before his team's playoff run is over in the Chinese Basketball Association:  
Denver Nuggets restricted free agent Wilson Chandler is scheduled to return to the United States from China sooner than expected, according to sources close to the situation, with next week as his target.

It remains unclear, though, how quickly Chandler will be allowed to follow through on his stated intention to re-sign with the Nuggets even if he does leave China in the next few days.

Chandler's Zhejiang Lions team starts a five-game playoff series next Thursday, but sources told ESPN.com that Chandler received the blessing of Lions management to come back to the NBA as soon as he helped the team clinch a playoff spot.
via Sources -- Wilson Chandler set to return from China sooner than expected - ESPN.

Chandler is widely expected to return to the Nuggets as a restricted free agent, whether on a long-term deal or just to finish the remainder of this season and enter unrestricted free agncy.

The Nuggets desperately need Chandler on roster as soon as possible, with a banged up club missing Danilo Gallinari with an ankle chip fracture and Nene among others missing time with injury. The wear and tear on Chandler from playing in the CBA is yet to be seen as is how he'll respond under this compacted schedule.

Denver is struggling right now, but with Chandler back and eventually Gallo, they should be able to gain some momentum headed into the playoffs as one of the deepest teams in the league.

Chandler still has to get FIBA clearance in order to play in the NBA, and that will only come once Chandler's CBA team notfies FIBA to do so. That could complicate when Chandler is eligibile to play, even if he's back in the states.
Posted on: February 9, 2012 8:52 am

Wilson Chandler wants to re-sign with Denver

Wilson Chandler's agent says he wants to re-sign with Denver when he returns from China. (Getty Images)
By Matt Moore 

Wilson Chandler has been in China, after choosing to bail during the lockout assuming the season would wind up more protracted than it is. As a result of a Chinese Basketball Association rule enacted this summer, he is unable to get out of his deal until his team's season is over. Which will be shortly. Chandler is a restricted free agent for the Nuggets, and there was talk Denver might not re-sign him or that he would prefer a return to New York. But Yahoo Sports reports that Chandler's preference is to re-join the Nuggets for their playoff push: 
Chandler is drawing “significant interest” from other NBA teams, Chandler’s agent, Chris Luchey said, but he wants to re-sign with the Nuggets for either the rest or the season or a longer-term deal.

Nuggets general manager Masai Ujiri acknowledged the team’s interest in re-signing Chandler. The Nuggets have the right to match any offer Chandler receives from another NBA team.

“Wilson likes their direction and the stabilization of their roster in Denver with the young talent,” Luchey said in a phone interview from China. “He wants to see how they develop as a team. It’s a unique situation. The ball is in their court. If Wilson is comfortable, he will be a part of their core group.”
via Wilson Chandler intends to sign with Nuggets - NBA - Yahoo! Sports.

Chandler joining the Nuggets would just be adding more depth to arguably the deepest team in the league, when healthy. He's a versatile scorer that would join a 2-3 rotation of Arron Afflalo, Danilo Gallinari, Rudy Fernandez, and Corey Brewer, providing a five-man rotation entirely made of athletic wings that can get out in transition and hit from the perimeter. Chandler has the ability to fill up the scoreboard in any game, and is an underrated defender.

It'll be key to see what kind of condition Chandler has been playing in in China (his numbers suggest pretty great), and if there's a struggle to adapt to NBA speed. But as the Nuggets gear up for a late-season playoff run, getting Chandler will only make a good depth situation better for Denver.

With all their injuries, they just have to survive until then.
Posted on: October 31, 2011 1:35 pm

China is not taking the lockout well

By Matt Moore

There's a reason that David Stern has invested so much in China, why players are constantly doing visits and exhibitions there, why it's the great untapped market for basketball. Lots of people, lots of money because of the resources, and a love of basketball. But with the NBA having killed the first month of its season and maybe more, squandering all of its momentum at the worst time for the Chinese market which is coming off of the retirement of Yao Ming, how is China reacting? The answer? Not well. 

From Bloomberg:
On Oct. 24, Guan Weijia, vice-director of the basketball department at Titan Sports, China’s leading sports newspaper, wrote a column about the player lockout in the Beijing News titled, “Everybody is a demon.” In it, he said that NBA Commissioner David Stern was “the demon of all demons and he is Satan who is the King of demons in this labor dispute.” Guan was not much kinder to Billy Hunter, the executive director of the NBA Player’s Union, and his role in the fruitless negotiations:

"He is the spokesman of the employees, but he can't work out a shrewd strategy … [he] has already prepared for surrender and the purpose of his of existence is to be played and 'slaughtered' by Stern."

The Beijing News, a newspaper once known for its independence and bold reporting, was recently placed under the control of Beijing’s propaganda authorities. Arguably this editorial met with their approval.
via Basketball-Crazy China Sees Opportunity in NBA Lockout: Adam Minter - Bloomberg.

"Everybody is a demon." 

I kind of want to stop this post right there, because it will not get better or more clear than that.

The piece goes on to intimate that the rest of the country could very well lose interest in the sport since it doesn't translate well culturally or through economic systems. In short, China doesn't understand why the NBA isn't playing basketball. 

You're not alone, China.  
Category: NBA
Posted on: September 6, 2011 11:18 am
Edited on: September 6, 2011 11:22 am

Video: Melo, Wade, CP3 'dance-off' badly

By Matt Moore

NBA players are making as many stops in China each summer as they can. It's a still-untapped market for sponsorships, branding, business opportunities, and Nike has pumped a world of money into the country. So you see a lot of weird things, like pandas and the like. You also see a lot of silly things, like this "dance-off" with Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade, and Carmelo Anthony against a group of kids in Beiijing. 


Not much of a dance-off, right? At least Chris Paul got on the floor at the end there. But turning your backs on the dudes? That's just cold. I mean, not "forcing a trade from the franchise who drafted you and built their dreams around you" cold, but pretty chilly.

Posted on: August 31, 2011 11:43 am

Thaddeus Young in talks with China

By Matt Moore

First Wilson Chandler headed for the East. Now Thaddeus Young's agent has also said he's in talks with a Chinese CBA team.From HoopsHype.com:
“I have been contacted by multiple teams in China expressing very serious interest in having Thaddeus Young play in their league this season,” Tanner said. “I have discussed this with Thad and he is intrigued by the possibility of playing in China if the lockout continues and has asked me to further explore these opportunities. At this point, our conversations with the teams have been preliminary but we are continuing to talk and to do our due diligence on each option.”
via HoopsHype.com NBA Blogs - Jorge Sierra » Young receiving interest from China.

The same concerns exist with Young signing with the CBA as with Chandler. The CBA adopted a rule earlier this month to bar teams from signing NBA players under contract with an opt-out clause, not wanting to become a temp job for locked-out players (which makes no sense for them, but whatever). 

There's still the possibility that Chandler and Young, if he signs, could return if the lockout is resolved simply by the Chinese team releasing them in an under-the-table agreement. But if Young signs and stays, it means another major free agent off the board. Young really came into his own last season as he started to play bigger inside and became more versatile for Philadelphia. But with Philly still having Elton Brand on roster, and with the logjam at the 2/3 with Iguodala and Evan Turner, this wouldn't harm them considerably. 

The bigger question is if the NBA meeting Wednesday goes badly, if enough free agents will be compelled to sign with China, abandoning hope for the 2011-2012 season to be played.  
Posted on: August 18, 2011 11:39 am
Edited on: August 18, 2011 11:44 am

Report: Chinese league bans locked out players

By Matt Moore

On Thursday morning, Eastern time, Chinese outlets started reporting that Kobe Bryant had signed a deal with the Shanxi Zhongyu of the CBA. The move would send ripples throughout the basketball world as the most iconic NBA player would be playing overseas in a lucrative market. Finally, a big star beyond Deron Williams has agreed to play overseas. 

Or... not.

Sports 163 along with multiple outlets are now reporting that at the CBA meetings, the league approved a rule to block outright any NBA player currently under contract with the NBA from playing in the CBA. That gets around previously discussed loopholes to proposed rules to block opt-outs. If you say outright you can't sign any player, no under-the-tables deals can be adopted. 

It also closes off one of the most attractive options for players. Not only are they revered in China like no other country on Earth, but the marketing potential is through the roof due to the companies and population. Bryant, for example, has made huge strides in his global brand by expanding to China. With Yao Ming out of the picture, China represents a wide-open market. This hurts the players' efforts to provide leverage by signing overseas. Bryant was just the biggest name. More players were likely looking for the opportunity. 

For China, this is at once a terrible business decision and typically Chinese. It's a different culture, and with the CBA managed by the government, the protection of their culture is foremost. There's a matter of pride over not wanting to rent players for a few months only to have the lockout end and them abandon the CBA. At the same time, it would have done so much to encourage interest in the league and raise money which could be devoted to development there. It's a reasonable position, even if it is disappointing for basketball in China overall. 

The NBA will have no comment, naturally, but is likely nodding with a slight grin. 

(HT: HoopsHype via IAmAGM.com)
Posted on: August 5, 2011 10:35 am

There are ways around China rule to block players

By Matt Moore

In the ever-escalating battle between those who do and do not think that players heading to China to play is a viable option, we have some new developments. 

First there was a report last weekendthat the Chinese government and CBA (that's Chinese Basketball, not Collective Bargaining) officials were working on a rule change to prohibit opt-out clauses from being included in any contract for an NBA player during the lockout.  Many skeptics of the "China plan" ho-ho-ho'd the development, laughing off the absurdity squashed beneath the ruling of such a powerful entity. On Wednesday, noted Chinese basketball site NIUBBall.com reported that teams are examining ways to circumvent the ruling, essentially because they don't really care what that powerful entity says. The quick answer? Why not just make an agreement with the player to release them instead of instituting a formal contract provision? From NIUBBall.com:
The answer is unclear, which is why teams are growing more and more convinced that they can negotiate an under-the-table agreement with players that would guarantee a return to America after a set period of time or after the lockout ends. To remain in line with CBA policy, the team would then sign an official one-year deal consistent with the CBA’s rules prohibiting an out-clause, which would be turned in to and approved by the league office. After the player left, the team could point to the official contract and state a variety of reasons for why the player left — breach of contract, injury, inability to adapt to China, etc. — and claim no responsibility for the player’s departure. With a league approved contract on file in league headquarters, there wouldn’t be any way for the league to prove foul-play.

“Since word of the new rule got out, the common thinking to get around this has been to write up two contracts, the real one [that has been negotiated with the player] and the one that is officially filed with the CBA,” said another general manager speaking anonymously. “We feel we can absolutely get a deal done with a player privately. Once the lockout ends, we’ll just release him. Then, after he’s gone, we’ll pull up the one-year contract that is on file with the league.”
via NiuBBall.com » Teams searching for ways to get NBA superstars to China

So now the question becomes whether players can trust their Chinese teams to uphold terms of the under-the-table agreement, and what response the CBA would have to breach of contract if the team did not wish to pursue any action against the player. Oddly enough, the CBA should learn something the NBA is already very familiar with: the teams make the rules. It doesn't really matter what the organizing body says if the teams that comprise the league choose to ignore it. 

People are still very doubtful that there's enough money in China to make the trip worth it to players, but again I'll ask about the sponsorship money. Salary money to NBA stars is often the lowest total they get in a year, at least in a per-hour manner. And the financial ramifications of building a base in China go far beyond this season. Developing that by playing there for a year will cement income for years to come. It's tapping a wide-open market that they can only barely scratch in the offseasons, and yet they try to anyway, like Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony, and Chris Paul's Chinese tour a few weeks ago. Imagine that potential augmented by actually playing for a local team.

One thing that has been confirmed by NIUBBall.com is that the contract offer for Dwyane Wade from one of the clubs, reported by a local newspaper earlier this week, was denied by the team's general manager. Wade's the kind of player you can't believe will go overseas, based solely on his injury history. Kobe Bryant is older, and has had knee, finger, and ankle injuries in the past two years and is still in better shape than Wade physically. Bryant's also much more likely to ignore sound medical advice and go off of what he "feels."

But still, no one's signed in China. The cupboard is full (or bare, depending on how you look at it). So clearly the rush is not on. There will continue to be questions about how this whole thing will work out, and the only thing that's truly certain is that no one really knows. We're in uncharted territory, feeling our way through just like the players, the NBA, the CBA, and its teams.  
Posted on: August 4, 2011 9:11 am
Edited on: August 4, 2011 9:14 am

Vaccaro predicts Kobe Bryant to China

By Matt Moore

Sonny Vaccaro is a big name in the basketball business. So when he pipes up and says something like, "Kobe Bryant will go to play in China and Nike will pay him for it," people's ears are going to perk up. That's exactly what Vacarro, the man who signed Jordan to Nike and the former head of the ABCD camp, said Wednesday on Memphis radio host Chris Vernon's show (via Twitter)

Even as respected as Vaccaro is among industry executives, this should be taken with a grain of salt. SBNation Los Angeles lays out where Vaccaro has been off in the past, including saying Chicago was the best best for LeBron last summer, that Tracy McGrady had the most talent he'd ever seen, and that Bryant would leave the Lakers after 2009 to play in Europe. Now, the first two are not so crazy upon further inspection.

Chicago really was the best fit for James last summer. The core of Rose, Luol Deng, and Joakim Noah would have given him a stronger overall supporting cast than what he has in Miami, and Tom Thibodeau's defensive acumen would have done wonders with that kind of talent.  McGrady really was one of the most talented players people had ever seen, and that's what led to nearly MVP seasons in Orlando (had they won any games). As for the last charge, Vaccaro really only said it would be a "great possibility" that Bryant would head overseas in 2009, not that he was sure to go. There's a big difference there. A "great possibility" is entirely different from an outright prediction.

But what Vaccaro said on the radio Wednesday is a different matter. If Vaccaro, who has extensive ties to the shoe industry, is predicting a Nike investment in Bryant playing overseas, that could be a game changer. Having an entity like Nike willing to push Bryant financially in order to expand their Asian market would make things wholly different for whatever team was looking to sign him.

But would Nike be willing to risk damaging a relationship with the NBA by sending one of their biggest stars to make money in the lockout? What about the proposed rule change which would restrict players from having NBA opt-outs to return if the lockout ends? What about the fact that the idea of Bryant playing anywhere else during the lockout seems completely insane to most people? 

Vaccaro is a big voice, but not a surefire predictor, and there are too many factors in play here to think this will actually happen. So we'll stay skeptical of something unlikely occurring, much as we were about the idea of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh teaming up on the same team. How crazy was that? 

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com