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 poor 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 and structure to match the NBA’s – 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 $25-40 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 35 ppg 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 often-selfish stat-stuffing play of many of the imports, and of their team’s pampering to their import’s every statistical need. But for us NBA fans mildly obsessed with the players on the fringes of our league, it’s 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 Cory 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.)
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)
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 have imports.
15. TianJin – Herve Lamizana, Brandon Crump, Rony Fahed
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.