Import business thriving

Updated: 2011-09-15 07:51

By Sun Xiaochen (China Daily)

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Import business thriving

Free agent Smith signs with Golden Bulls; he'll face ex-teammate Chandler in Zhejiang

BEIJING - The Denver Nuggets are invading Zhejiang.

The Zhejiang Chouzhou Golden Bulls of the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) announced on Wednesday they've signed Nuggets free agent guard JR Smith for at least one season.

Smith follows former teammate Wilson Chandler, who joined cross-town rival Zhejiang Guangsha two weeks ago.

In accordance with the CBA's new rules, Smith's contract with the Golden Bulls doesn't include an opt-out clause that would allow him to return to the NBA when the league lockout ends.

His deal was estimated to be worth around $3 million, the highest in league history, according to web portal Sina.com.

Smith joined Chandler, former Orlando Magic forward Earl Clark and Josh Powell - who won an NBA title with the Los Angeles Lakers - on the list of most-wanted free agents after the CBA announced last month it wouldn't allow the signing of players with active NBA contracts.

Chandler became the first major import when he signed a one-year contract with Guangsha, which also brought in Clark.

The 24-year-old swingman had a career season, averaging 15.2 points and 5.6 rebounds a game for the Nuggets.

The 25-year-old Smith averaged 12.3 points and 4.1 rebounds for the Nuggets last season.

Smith was first linked to the Shanxi Zhongyu before deciding on Zhejiang.

Owned by one of the most ambitious and richest men in the CBA, Shanxi aimed to bring in Smith as a consolation prize after superstar Kobe Bryant of the Lakers was prevented by the new rules from coming.

However, the two sides failed to reach an agreement on contract details and Smith opened negotiation with the Golden Bulls.

Joining the New Orleans Hornets as a first-round pick in the 2004 NBA draft, Smith has played 503 NBA games for the Hornets and Nuggets, averaging 12.5 points, 2.0 assistants and 2.8 rebounds.

Boasting explosive penetration and smooth finger-rolls, Smith was hailed as the most dangerous weapon on Denver's bench.

Teaming on the Golden Bulls with another former NBA player, Josh Boone, Smith is expected to spearhead the squad's outside scoring - and wow local fans.

The Golden Bulls finished fifth in the regular season before being swept by Jiangsu Nangang in the first round of playoffs.

China Daily

(China Daily 09/15/2011 page22)