The Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) has passed new rules prohibiting teams from signing players under contract with NBA teams, as well as from including out-clauses in contracts allowing players to return to the U.S. once the lockout is over, according to reports out of China.
The CBA has put together a list of 108 free agents who are eligible to be signed by Chinese teams, Pro Basketball Talk notes. Still, those players cannot have out-clauses in their deals with CBA teams.
“We welcome free-agent players of the NBA to play at least a full season in the CBA,” Bai Xilin, director of the CBA League Office, said on Friday, according to the Xinhua News Agency.
Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade and Dirk Nowitzki are among the NBA stars who have said they’d consider move to China, but all three are under contract with their current teams. The new policy essentially bans them from signing deals with Chinese teams.
While Shanxi Zhongyu announced Thursday that Byrant would sign a contract with the team if he was allowed to play in the CBA without restrictions, Bai stressed that the new policy prevents him from playing for the team, according to Xinhua.
There has been some buzz, however, that there’s a sentiment among Chinese teams that the league will not be able to enforce the rule and that teams will move forward in their efforts to sign NBA stars despite the new rule.
The reason for the rule change: The government-run CBA believes that bringing NBA stars aboard on a temporary basis will detract from the league’s growth. Teams, however, see revenue-generating opportunities in signing these players and believe that doing so would add to the stature of Chinese basketball.