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Nuggets guard Smith joins Golden Bulls

BEIJING (Reuters) - Denver Nuggets free agent J.R. Smith has signed a deal with Zhejiang Chouzhou Golden Bulls to play in China's professional basketball league, according to a newspaper report on Thursday.

The 26-year-old guard has landed a $3 million deal, a Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) record, for at least one season with no opt-out clause which means he cannot return to NBA even when the labor dispute there ends, the China Daily reported.

Smith joined former Nuggets team mate Wilson Chandler, who signed for city rival Zhejiang Guangsha a fortnight ago.

Other NBA stars in China's professional basketball league include former Orlando Magic forward Earl Clark (Zhejiang Guangsha) and former Los Angeles Lakers power forward Josh Powell (Liaoning Panpan).

According to the newspaper, Smith was initially linked to Shanxi Zhongyu, which wanted to launch an audacious bid for Kobe Bryant but were barred as the CBA would not allow players with active NBA contracts in their league.

(Editing by Alastair Himmer)