The Chinese Basketball Association will not allow NBA players, trying to escape the lockout, to play in its league.

The move would bar ballers who are under contract with NBA teams (such as Kobe Bryant – who’s expressed an interest in playing in China) from joining the league.

Only free agents – who wouldn’t have to return to the States immediately if or when the lockout ends – will be allowed to sign with CBA clubs.

“We welcome free-agent players of the NBA to play at least a full season in the CBA,” said Bai Xilin, director of the CBA league office.

The Chinese state media organisation, Xinhua, says more restrictions will be announced before the start of the Chinese season on November 20. It reports that contracts will be designed to discourage players from ducking out for dubious reasons, such as suspect injuries or unverified family problems at home.

As the lockout enters its 50th day, neither party seems to be willing to budge – and a loss of some of the season is looking increasingly likely.

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