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A.I. off to Turkey; Charles Gaines to Qingdao, Alston to follow?

Much to my disappointment, the Allen Iverson to China rickshaw appears to have lost its wheels: According to Yahoo! Sports, Allen Iverson is in serious talks with Turkish outfit, Besiktas, and is hoping to get a deal done by the end of the week. The proposed one-year deal is estimated to be worth around $1.5 million, but with an interesting twist: There’s a limit as to how much the team can fine A.I.

From the article:

One stumbling block to an agreement over the weekend was Iverson’s reluctance to let Besiktas fine him beyond 1 percent of his $1.5 million base salary, a European source told Yahoo! Sports.

Now we officially know that with Iverson, it’s not just about the money; it’s about making the most money possible from playing basketball and finding an owner that can live with the fact that A.I. doesn’t want to do anything outside of playing games. Even in Europe, Iverson doesn’t wanna be talkin’ practice, I guess. To tell a team this much before he’s even signed his contract is a brutally honest self-assessment from a guy who has always been brutally honest about himself, yet somehow I doubt he’ll be getting props for keeping it real this time.

Iverson’s insistence on the clause sheds some more light on perhaps why China didn’t go down. Given that Foshan had an offer on the table worth a reported $4 million — $2.5 million more than Bestikas — it’s certainly possible that Iverson’s demands for some type of restriction on how much a team could take from him in case he went AWOL caused the two sides to walk away from each other. It’s quite understandable for both sides, actually. For Iverson, having  99% of $1.5 million guaranteed is a safer bet than having $4 million non-guaranteed. And for Foshan, investing that type of money on somebody who is unable to guarantee his availability for practices/games/being in Foshan/being in China would be too dangerous for a new team preparing to play in its inaugural season.

Disappointed that I won’t get to see Iverson play in China, but even more disappointed that one of my favorite players of all-time is choosing to end his career in Europe by protecting a contract not against his team, but against his his own will to play basketball. A sad, sad way for the gutsiest basketball player ever to go out.

Other news from the CBA: Charles Gaines, the CBA’s second leading scorer last year for Xinjiang, is signing up with Qingdao Double Star.  It’s a considerable addition for the city of beer: Gaines averaged 30 and 11 last year, leading Xinjiang all the way to the CBA finals.  You might know him as the guy who slapped Du Feng’s lights out in Game 2 of those very finals:

In case you’re wondering, neither were suspended by the league.  Gaines’  open hand strike was ruled to be in self defense, since Du instigated everything with a forehead to forehead knock, while Du’s Gaines-inflicted TKO was judged to be nothing more than an exaggerated flop.  I’m sure opposing scouting reports on Gaines this year are sure to include a line or two about headbutting.

Gaines will join up with Jordan national team captain, Zaid Al-Khas, who signed with the team over a week ago.

And, finally, your Rafer Alston China rumor of the week.

If you’ve been staying up with the blog, you’ve done known that Skip is coming to China to train with the Zhejiang Guangshua Lions, one of the many teams vying to acquire the 11-year NBA point-guard.  According to the Qingdao Evening Newspaper, he’s all set for Chinese lay-up lines in southern China on the 18th.

Alston in Zhejiang would presumably give them the inside track, but he that may not be the case after all.  The same article is reporting that Alston, despite agreeing to come to Zhejiang, personally reached out to Qingdao Double Star two weeks ago and the two sides have mutual interest in each other. If a deal is reached, Skip will sign an agreement with Double Star similar to Stephon Marbury’s with Shanxi Zhongyu that would include opportunities on the business side of the basketball in addition to an annual salary.

At this point, after reading all of the stuff that’s been published about Skip to China and the fact that he’s physically coming to the mainland in a few days, I’d be shocked if he’s not playing in the CBA later this year.  For all of you who are undoubtedly wondering how to say “Skip to my Lou” in Chinese, you should know that they don’t call him by that here. In China, he’s simply known as Jie Qiu Wang, or “Street Ball King.”

More as it develops.


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