Former NBA player threatens to sue Taiwan pro basketball team

Former NBA forward Julian Wright has threatened to take legal action against the Hsinchu JKO Lioneers of Taiwan’s P.LEAGUE+ for allegedly breaching his contract, a stance the club has described as “regrettable.”


The 203-centimeter Wright, who played for the New Orleans Hornets and Toronto Raptors from 2007 to 2011, started the inaugural 2020-2021 season of the pro basketball league as a player for the Lioneers and then was signed as a player development coach in late February.


He remained in that role until the season wrapped up in May, before returning to the United States in early June, and according to Wright, he expected to return because the contract is valid until August 2022.


Currently in the United States, Wright said he has repeatedly contacted the team’s management about his return for the new season, scheduled to tip off on Dec. 4, but has yet to receive a formal response, something he sees as a breach of contract.


“I want to also announce that unfortunately due to a breach in the contract, I won’t be able to return to and do my job as player development coach and also doing things in the community. Sometimes business gets in the way of good feelings and good bonds,” Wright said in a recorded video on social media.


In a text, Wright said that if a mutual termination agreement is not reached by Friday, he will take the matter to court in Taiwan.


“By my actions of suing, I’m showing how unethical business continues if it goes unchecked and hopefully my cases without sports organizations’ assistance, can give other expatriates courage to do the same,” Wright said.


The Lioneers responded with a statement describing his comments related to the contract as “regrettable.”

Though Wright’s contract doesn’t expire until August 2022, it allowed either party to terminate the agreement unconditionally without paying any compensation and stated that Wright would not be paid a salary when he is not with the team during the offseason, the club said.


Those provisions were included in the contract to give Wright flexibility, including taking opportunities to return to the court as a player, the Lioneers said.


The two sides had been in communication since July to discuss a date of return only to find that Wright asked in a letter on Nov. 5 to unilaterally terminate the contract, the Lioneers said.


The dates were never confirmed because Wright was later selected to play in Big 3, a three-on-three pro basketball league in the U.S.


The matter will be taken over by the club’s legal team, the Lioneers said, adding that they hope the situation will be solved amicably as soon as possible.


In the meantime, Wright said he is applying for Taiwan’s Employment Gold Card, a program designed to attract skilled foreign talent to work in Taiwan by giving the holder a resident visa, work permit, Alien Resident Certificate, and re-entry permit.


“I am applying for the Gold Card to receive permanent residency as I want to bring my basketball and fitness training business to Taiwan!” Wright said.


He may perceive an opportunity here because of the expansion of pro basketball in Taiwan this season. It will be home to two professional leagues (the P.LEAGUE+ and T1 LEAGUE) for the first time ever, each with six teams, and a third five-team semi-professional league (SBL).


The three leagues all allow foreign nationals to play, attracting international basketball players and coaches to the country.


Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel

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