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Rodney Stuckey pursued by China's Guangdong

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Rodney Stuckey is being pursued by the Guangdong Southern Tigers, reports Marc Stein of ESPN. What's the big deal, right? If he wants to spend the lockout earning a few bucks with an international team, more power to him ... right? Well, there's a catch. Stein explains:

The biggest hurdle for Guangdong to clear, though, is the same hurdle all Chinese teams face when trying to land NBA players: Stuckey, if he signs, would be unable to come back to the NBA until Guangdong's season ends in March, even if the lockout ends before that, thanks to rules instituted this season by the Chinese Basketball Association.

In other words, the Chinese Basketball Association isn't interested in hired guns -- player are either in it for the long haul or not at all, regardless of how long the NBA's lockout continues. Players such as Wilson Chandler, Kenyon Martin and J.R. Smith have already made that full-year commitment to play in the CBA. For what it's worth, this doesn't apply to Yi Jianlian, who recently signed with Guangdong, because the CBA has a different rules for Chinese citizens vs. foreign imports.

Thanks to DBB reader G.D. for getting the ball rolling on this discussion in a FanPost, where Ben Gulker made an interesting point in the comments:

Obviously, we have no idea how a new [collective bargaining agreement] will impact our options with Stuckey. Presumably, we'd still have some under the new [collective bargaining agreement], and presumably, there will be some sort of clause to handle situations like this one that protect the owners and teams (i.e., we'll still have rights to Stuckey when he returns).

Assuming that the Pistons would still have rights if Stuckey plays overseas for a year, I am all for this. It will give Knight and Bynum playing time at the 1 (both young(ish), both cheap), it will alleviate the logjam at the 2 (and hopefully, make at least one of BG/Rip attractive due to uptick in productivity with an uptick in minutes), and it gives us a completely commitment-free year to analyze Stuckey's long-term value (!!!!!!).

The more I think on this, the more I hope it happens. It's like, the best-case scenario for the franchise, and it's good for Stuck, too. Win all around.



Guangdong's sweet logo, courtesy of Wikipedia

He makes a good point. As I understand it, if Stuckey signs with China as a restricted NBA free agent, it'll be just like when Josh Childress signed in Greece: the Pistons would still own his NBA rights whenever he wants to return. When Childress returned to the NBA, the Atlanta Hawks still owned his rights, which they traded to the Phoenix Suns.

But if the lockout lasts the entire season and Stuckey doesn't sign overseas, it's at least possible the Pistons would lose his rights completely and he'd be an unrestricted free agent (i.e., just because the NBA owners can lock out the players doesn't mean that NBA players lose a year of service time). I'm not 100 percent sure if that's correct -- in fact, I'm not sure anyone does. The exact consequences of the lockout as it relates to service time will likely have to be negotiated between the owners and players, if/when the lockout wipes out the season.

In any case, is the undisputed leader for putting Chinese basketball news in context. Jon Pastuszek of explained last month why playing in China may not be as appealing in reality as it is in theory for locked out Americans:

The evidence speaks for itself. The CBA has arguably the highest turnover rate of any professional league in the world. It is rare for a team to finish the year with the same two imports they started with, nor is it out of the question for teams to end the year with two completely different players altogether. Last year alone, only four teams, Xinjiang Guanghui (Quincy Douby and James Singleton); Guangdong Foshan (Stephon Marbury and Olumide Oyedeji); Qingdao Double Star (Dee Brown and Charles Gaines); and Shandong Kingston (Rodney White and Myron Allen) managed to hang onto their two imports the entire season.

There are a variety of reasons why so many players don't finish out the full-season in China. First, Chinese teams are notoriously fickle with their foreign players and are quick to pull the plug if either the team's record or the player's individual statistics are not line with expectations. And as the CBA regular season is only 32 games long, owners won't wait more than a few games to make a switch if they feel that's what the team needs to turn itself around.

Granted, that's as true in Europe as it in China. But, Chinese teams add to the situation by being blatantly corrupt about they way they do it, withholding letter-of-clearances (a FIBA document needed by a player from his former team stating that he is no longer under contract and is thus able to sign for another team), lying about the terms of deals, and sometimes not paying players altogether.

I suggest you read the whole article -- there's plenty more to digest, such as tales of nine-hour bus rides, unheated hotel rooms and fast food dinners that a pampered NBA athlete may have a hard time adjusting to. Money talks, but if you're worried the team is so corrupt that you actually get paid, well, that changes things.