The merry-go-round of rumors revolving around high profile former NBA players coming to play in China continues to spin at full speed with Steve Francis’ name the latest to be mentioned in the Chinese media.
HoopChina is reporting that Francis and the Beijing Ducks are discussing a contract that would bring the three time NBA All-Star to China’s capital city this season.
The article sites Francis’ increased willingness to take a pay cut in order to keep Beijing flexible with their salary structure as a major indication that he’s serious about coming to China. Francis originally demanded $1.5 million per year; then $1 million, both of which were deemed too pricey by a Beijing management team who is wary about over-investing in one player.
Francis has lowered his asking prince to $700,000 with the knowledge that Beijing is prepared to offer him a deal that also promises business cooperation and other branding considerations in addition to an annual salary. Like Stephon Marbury in Shanxi, Francis would step into China not only as a big-time basketball player, but as a savvy salesman poised to tap into potentially the largest market in the world.
A Beijing team spokesperson denied the report.
My take: Allen Iverson, Larry Hughes and Rafer Alston all had “serious talks” with various CBA teams, too. I’ll believe it when I see it. But, make no mistake — the “come to China, play some hoops, sell a lot of shoes” sales pitch is the biggest thing the CBA has going for itself right now. And as long as former volume scoring Houston Rockets are without NBA jobs, teams are going to continue to offer it as an incentive. The problem is, as we just saw with Alston, is that investing in another country requires a commitment instead of a one-year grab and run. People are bound to get cold feet over moving across an ocean to live in a completely different country with a completely different culture. And that’s why I’m not holding my breath over all of this.