During the lockout, when some of the NBA players went to make some money overseas, most of them were able to get clauses in their contracts that allowed them to return to their teams when the lockout was over. That wasn’t the case for the ones that played in China.
Players such as Aaron Brooks, Wilson Chandler and J.R. Smith aren’t allowed to leave their Chinese teams until their season is over. The CBA regular season ends on February 15th but the playoffs could go all the way through March 30th, which is going to make things difficult for two of the big-name players.
“This poses an additional problem for Brooks and Chandler, who are restricted free agents. Under normal circumstances a restricted free agent can sign an offer sheet with the team of his choice, and the player’s prior team is given the opportunity to retain the player by matching the principal terms of the offer. If the team fails to match the offer (the time limit is three days), the offer sheet becomes a contract with the new team.
But restricted free agents can’t sign offer sheets after March 1 of any season, and this season is no exception. So Brooks and Chandler likely won’t be eligible to return to the NBA until after their eligibility to sign an offer sheet expires.”
Since both Brooks’ and Chandler’s Chinese teams are doing well, what this means is they are hoping for some generosity from their NBA teams. Most likely they won’t make it back before the March 1st deadline, so both the Denver Nuggets for Chandler and the Phoenix Suns for Brooks will have the ability to sign them with no competition, meaning they can lowball the offer.
Chandler has already said he wants to sign with the Nuggets, but Brooks may not be needed in Phoenix. If the Suns don’t mind Brooks going to another team, they can release him and he’ll become an unrestricted free agent, but if they want to keep him they just have to sign him to a qualifying contract. Chandler sounds like he wants something long-term in Denver, so if the Nuggets want him, they’ll probably put up the cash for a bigger deal.
I’m sure the NBA players weren’t thinking about this when they agreed to go over and play in China but now it’s time to deal with the consequences. No NBA team wants to come off like the bad guy, but it’ll be interesting to see how they handle this unique situation.