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Wednesday, December 02, 2009

As far as I can tell, this is China

Last year, we focused at length on the joy that is the Chinese Basketball Association. It's a quirky beast; the standard of China's own domestic players is pretty damn bad in the grand scheme of things, with the exception of the occasional halfway decent (or truly fantastic) big man. Knowing this, the CBA have decided to try and replicate a more American style of play in order to improve their national team product. They've changed some rules to match the NBA - for example, playing 48 minutes a game, and playing far more games than most leagues - and they've tried to increase the physical nature of the play. And a large part of doing that is attracting top tier American imports.

They're able to do this for the simple reason that they can compete financially. With salaries ranging from about $25-to-40 thousand a month - and sometimes more - CBA teams are able to sign fringe, former and future NBA talent where other leagues are unable to do so. If you were a fringe NBA player, would you rather earn $32,200 for an entire D-League season, or earn that for one month in China? It's clearly the latter, and that's how China is able to land such (relatively) premium talent consistently.

The exposure isn't bad, either, as Leon Rodgers demonstrated by getting a training camp contract with the Grizzlies based on his work in China last year. American players playing in the CBA are essentially guaranteed mahoosive statistics - as Rodgers demonstrated with his 35ppg scoring average last season - and mahoosive statistics tend to talk, no matter what the competition. So it befits them to go there. Having all these imports is not met with universal applause from the Chinese fans, many of who object to the largely selfish stat-stuffing play of many of the imports, and of their team's pamnpering to their imports statistics every need. But for us NBA fans mildly obsessed with the players on the fringes of our league, it's bloody awesome.

Last year's Chinese holiday makers include players such Olumide Oyedeji, Bonzi Wells, David Harrison and Smush Parker. Hundreds of games of NBA experience were on show, and to a man, they all put up staggeringly huge numbers. (That is, except for Corey Underwood. But, as I've since learnt, he had a torn up knee, which would explain it all.) However, Chinese Basketball Association transactions are amazingly hard to verify. There's no English version of the CBA's website, nor is there an English language fan site worth a damn. What news we can get of the transactions comes from either asia-basket.com, player agents, crude translations, forum posters, Tweets, and the like. It's not an exact science, and therefore, it's really hard to know who's going where for next season.

However, after a few hours with Google translate, there follows the most accurate depiction of next year's CBA imports that I can compile. Nothing is guaranteed to be accurate, but this is the best I can do. Hope it works.

(Note: each franchise is allowed a maximum of two imports, so if more than two are listed, there's clearly a battle going on. Teams listed based on their finishing position last year.)


1. Guangdong - Smush Parker (confirmed), David Harrison

2. Xinjiang - Myron Allen, Juan Mendez, Sam Hoskin

3. Jiangsu - DerMarr Johnson (tryout), Jameel Watkins, Ansu Sesay (rumoured), Donell Harvey (originally signed, but reportedly had a pay dispute, and will not returb), Gerald Green (rumoured, then club refused), Loren Woods (same)

4. Shaanxi - Corsley Edwards, Tim Pickett

5. DongGuan - Will Conroy (confirmed), Dajuan Tate (confirmed), Alexander Johnson (rumoured, but the other two seem confirmed)

6. Fujian - Peter John Ramos (tried out but failed to make the team), Chris Porter, Jelani McCoy, DerMarr Johnson (worked out but did not sign), Jamal Sampson (worked out but did not sign)

7. Zhejiang Lions - Rodney White, Peter John Ramos (another tryout)

8. Shandong - Andre Emmett, Stromile Swift

9. Beijing - James Mays, Cedric Bozeman, DerMarr Johnson (rumoured), Jamal Sampson (tried out but did not sign)

10. Shanxi - Lee Benson (negotiations reportedly broken off), Donta Smith, Ansu Sesay, Maurice Taylor (currently injured, which won't help), Lorenzen Wright (worked out, has been reported to have signed for both Shanxi and Liaoning), Olumide Oyedeji. Also offered contracts to both Allen Iverson and Stephon Marbury in the summer. The other four appear to be battling for two spots.

11. Bayi - This team does not want to have imports. Not sure why.

12. Liaoning - Virginijus Praškevičius, Lorenzen Wright, Courtney Sims (tried out but did not impress), DerMarr Johnson (same)

13. Jilin - Leon Rodgers (confirmed), Soumaila Samake (confirmed), Tim Pickett (negotiated before signing with Shaanxi)

14. Zhejiang Cyclones - Soumaila Samake (eventually signed with Jilin), Andre Brown, Marcus E. Williams, Kamran Jamshidvand

15. TianJin - Herve Lamizana, Brandon Crump, Rony Fahed

16. Qingdao - Sabah Khoury, Frans Steyn, Chris Williams

18. Shanghai - John Lucas III (confirmed), Garret Siler (confirmed), Tim Pickett (worked out but did not sign), Zaid Abbaas, Paul Davis (rumoured, but seemingly only a rumour)


(The 17th placed team from last year, Yunnan, have folded. Also, Frank Robinson and Mario West tried out for multiple Chinese teams, but I can't tell for whom.)


As mention earlier, the above is not guaranteed to be accurate. Far from it, in fact. Try-outs are often reported as signings, some reports are false, and many moves just aren't reported at all. Piecing it together is a tough ask, and only once the players take the court will we really know who's there and who isn't.

But at the very least, those are your names in contention.

1 comment:

  1. It wasn't just imports. I remember seeing a box score where Mengke Bateer almost put up a 5x5 and a triple double in the same game. He also neared a quadruple double another time. I hope somebody is saving game tapes over there so we can see them here some day. Put them on ESPN Classic or something.

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