J.R. Smith signs to play in Chinese league



DENVER (AP) — J.R. Smith is the second Denver Nuggets free agent to sign a contract to play in China this season.

By doing so, Smith won’t be able to return to play in the NBA if there is a 2011-12 season. Owners have locked out the players in a labor dispute and the Chinese Basketball Association has told players they won’t be able to opt out of their deals to return to the NBA.

Smith’s agent, Leon Rose, confirmed to The Associated Press on Wednesday that the 26-year-old shooting guard signed a one-year contract with Zhejiang because “J.R. really wants to play basketball this season.”

Last month, Smith’s teammate, Wilson Chandler, signed with the Chinese league.

Smith averaged 12.3 points and 2.2 assists as the Nuggets’ sixth man last season.