It looks as unlikely as ever that we’ll be having an NBA season this year, which means it’s time for other basketball leagues to take advantage. Teams all over the world are no doubt keeping a close eye on this situation, waiting to capitalize on the NBA ineptitude. There have already been a handful of teams that have signed NBA players, including the Xinjiang Flying Tigers who added Kenyon Martin to their team earlier this year. Now they’re hoping to get more.
ESPN’s Marc Stein reports that the Flying Tigers want to sign Atlanta Hawks guard Jamal Crawford. From what I’ve read, Xinjiang is kind of like the New York Yankees of Chinese basketball. They have the biggest budget and are willing to spend it.
This will be an interesting situation to follow though because the rules are a little different in China. Chinese basketball teams are only allowed to sign NBA free agents, but with the lockout extended, some teams are hoping that will create a loophole around that rule.
Also, one of the big appeals to playing in another country is that most of the teams were offering an “out clause,” allowing players to return to the NBA if the lockout ended. Chinese teams don’t do that, and they insist that their players finish out the season, which ends in March. It might be hard to entice players over that have loyalty to their teams and the NBA.
I imagine now that the NBA players are missing paychecks, the desperation to earn money will inspire even more to play in other countries. The NBA season is starting to look like roadkill on the side of a highway, and now all these international teams are like vultures picking up the scraps.