NBA Rumors: Will Any Big-Name Players Stay Overseas?
The 2011-12 NBA season is set to tip off on Christmas Day, but several free agents have decided to make China, Lithuania and a variety of other locations abroad their stomping grounds for the season.
With the uncertainty surrounding the lockout and some doubt that there would even be a campaign this year, some guys simply couldn't afford to wait around and risk a chance at a payday while the work stoppage dragged forward.
Any athlete under contract in the league prior to the lockout will be forced to return stateside, but there were some free agents who signed overseas without an opt-out clause and won't be coming back.
Here are the most notable names.
8. Nenad Krstic, CSKA Moscow
Krstic jumped on a two-year offer from CSKA Moscow in Russia worth over $8 million following the conclusion of the 2010-11 season, so it's tough to scoff at his decision to head abroad.
Although he does have have a buyout clause in his current deal, any team interested in signing him would be on the hook for an additional $500,000 as the buyout is $1 million.
The big man is unlikely to collect an annual salary in that range stateside, making the likelihood of his return rather slim.
7. Von Wafer, Cremona
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Wafer's time in Boston didn't do much to buck the reputation he has around the league as somewhat of a hothead, and that's been the knock on this talented scorer ever since he came out of Florida State.
He signed a one-year contract in Italy with Cremona, and he's certainly hoping that his tenure there ends better than it did when he previously went overseas and played in Greece.
A year abroad could do wonders for Wafer's development as consistent playing time could help him turn the corner which would enable him to become a real contributor in the NBA.
Note: If Wafer has an offer stateside prior to December 9, he will be allowed to return.
6. Chris Douglas-Roberts, Virtus Bologna
Douglas-Roberts is one player who sorely needs to re-invent his image and stock around the league, so his decision to sign with Virtus Bologna on a one-year deal was the right one.
He'll be an unrestricted free agent when he returns to the league next season, and he'll get a bigger role with his Italian club than he ever would've garnered stateside.
Douglas-Roberts' team is the same that reportedly targeted Kobe Bryant for several weeks to no avail.
5. Kenyon Martin, Xinjiang Flying Tigers
Martin made waves when he decided to bolt for China, but it was probably in his best interest considering he wasn't going to get the contract he was looking to secure stateside.
"K-Mart" signed a contract for one season with the Xinjiang Flying Tigers, and at the time of the agreement his deal was the richest in CBA (Chinese Basketball Association) history.
He'll return to the NBA as an unrestricted free agent once China's season concludes, but the days of him netting a lucrative multi-year pact are firmly behind him.
4. Aaron Brooks, Guangdong Southern Tigers
Brooks' decision to sign a deal in China looks like an awfully curious one considering the timing of the agreement.
The speedy point guard signed a one-year contract with the Guangdong Southern Tigers, and although he was able to do so as a restricted free agent, it means that he won't be allowed to return to the NBA until the close of China's campaign.
The deal between the two sides came just before Thanksgiving, and with the lockout being over just two days after the holiday, Brooks' decision is making some around the league wonder about his future.
3. Sonny Weems, Zalgiris Kaunas
Weems agreed to sign in Lithuania with Zalgiris Kaunas in early July, and as a role player in the early stages of his NBA career, he likely couldn't afford to wait to see what happened with the lockout.
He's got an intriguing skill set and is actually playing pretty well for his team overseas. At just 25 years old, he'll have plenty of time to earn his money in the league.
The swingman flashed some promising potential for the Toronto Raptors last season, and a full season abroad with a sizable role could be exactly what he needs to take his career to the next level.
2. J.R. Smith, Zhejiang Lions
It was fairly surprising when Smith agreed to sign with the Zhejiang Lions back in September because he was one of the premier shooting guards available on the free agent market.
At just 26 years old, Smith was in line for a major payday as an unrestricted free agent in a watered-down crop of talent, but that will be on hold for at least one year.
He's already been in some hot water with his Chinese team, but as long as he remains healthy, Smith shouldn't have trouble finding a deal to his liking upon his return.
1. Wilson Chandler, Zhejiang Guangsha
Chandler knew he was taking a gamble when he decided to sign in China back in August, but he clearly felt that it was a risk worth taking.
The swingman has been playing well for his new club, and although he has temporarily put his NBA career on hold, he should have no trouble finding a new contract in the league when he does come back.
He's going to have several teams bidding for his services, but Denver will have the opportunity to match any offer he receives as a restricted free agent.
That's especially important for the team considering both Smith and Martin are unrestricted.