The Los Angeles Clippers may not be done raiding the Chinese Basketball Association for the NBA talent that played there during the lockout.
After Kenyon Martin was cleared by FIBA to go back to the NBA, the Clippers pounced and signed the free agent to a one year deal on Friday. They might not be finished according to a source, saying that they have an interest in swingman J.R. Smith.
From Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times
: The Clippers, still not done dealing after signing Kenyon Martin on Friday, will pursue guard J.R. Smith after the team he plays on in the Chinese Basketball Assn. finishes its season and he becomes eligible to play in the NBA, said a person not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.
He would be an unrestricted free agent that the Clippers could sign to the mini-mid-level exception of $2.5 million, or for the veteran minimum of about $1 million.
Under the CBA rules, Smith still can't return to the NBA until his Zhejiang Golden Bulls team's season is over. If the Golden Bulls miss the playoffs, it could open the door for Smith to return to the NBA by the All-Star weekend, Feb. 25-26.
If the Clippers do sign Smith, it would provide a boost to their bench scoring at the wing position behind Caron Butler. Smith can shoot the lights out and would be a solid addition if he can keep his head on straight. The Clippers may actually have the locker room presence to keep him in line since he was a teammate of Martin and Chauncey Billups in Denver and Chris Paul in New Orleans.
The Los Angeles Lakers and New York Knicks are also looking hard at Smith, but the Clippers might be the favorites to sign him due to the aforementioned connections.