FIBA allowed Kenyon Martin to become an unrestricted free agent yesterday, at least two weeks before his obligation to China was set to end, and the Chinese Basketball Association isn't happy about it. Adrian Wojnarowksi of Yahoo Sports reports that CBA officials are fighting FIBA's decision, demanding the contract Martin signed during the NBA lockout is upheld.
Martin signed a $2.6MM deal to play for the Xinjiang Flying Tigers, but reached an agreement on a buyout after just 12 games. While the 34-year-old hasn't played in China in weeks, his contract stipulated that he couldn't sign with an NBA club until the end of the Flying Tigers' season. FIBA granted Martin a letter of clearance after China failed to reply to a request for such a letter. According to Wojnarowski, CBA officials are insisting the request was intentionally sent during the Chinese New Year — FIBA's guidelines allow it to issue a letter of clearance if a request goes unanswered for a week.
It's unclear whether Martin's clearance could be reversed, but FIBA's decision has reportedly angered other NBA players who are still contractually obligated to Chinese teams.
Right now, it’s a huge distraction for teams," an international official said. "Players are angry, want out now, and this is a huge investment that's blowing up in the face of [Chinese] teams and owners."
Whenever Martin is allowed to sign, it looks like he'll be deciding from a handful of teams that includes the Clippers, Heat, Hawks, Lakers, Spurs, and Knicks.