As we near the one month mark in the CBA regular season, several teams are looking towards America to remedy a host of early season ills.
With today being the final day NBA teams can waive players with partially guaranteed contracts — no extra salary payments required — several teams in China are closely monitoring the League transaction report to find out which players are going to spend the rest of the year in the States, and which players are in need of a job.
John Lucas III, freshly waived by Chicago, is one of those players who are seriously looking to China for work.
According to a source speaking anonymously with NiuBBall.com, both Shanghai and Beijing are highly interested in bringing over Lucas, who was officially let go by the Bulls yesterday.
Lucas is fielding several offers both within America and China, but at the moment it seems that Lucas prefers a return to Shanghai above all others. Lucas played with the Sharks last year under American head coach, Bob Donewald Jr., guiding them to a 25-7 regular season record and an appearance in the semi-finals, and feels comfortable with Donewald, the city and the overall structure of the team. Also playing a factor in his decision is Shanghai owner Yao Ming, who’s massive height may only be trumped by his well-known influence on both sides of the ocean.
In his first and only season with Shanghai last season, Lucas averaged 27.9 points, 4.9 rebounds and 4.7 assists on 48.6% shooting and 45.1% from three-point in 40 games.
Meanwhile in southern China, Guangdong, reportedly unsatisfied with the early season returns on Fred Jones, is also keeping a close watch on the NBA roster situations. Troubled by Jones’ lack of overall explosion and athleticism, Guangdong has major concerns about his ability to handle Xinjiang’s Quincy Douby defensively, who went off on both player and team for 38 points — including 18-19 from the free throw line — in Xinjiang’s Round Five win in Guangzhou. Behind the duo of Douby and former Clippers/Mavericks/Wizards’ forward James Singleton to go along with a solid supporting cast of domestic players, Xinjiang has rolled to a 9-0 start and are considered the present odds on favorite to break Guangdong’s three year championship streak.
According to the source, Guangdong is searching for a combo guard similar in ability and build to Smush Parker, who played two years with the team in 2008-09 and 2009-10 before leaving to sign with Spartak St. Petersberg in Russia.
In nine games, Jones is averaging 14.1 points, 6.4 rebounds, 5.3 assists, 1.1 blocks and 1.1 steals for the 7-2 Southern Tigers.
Also influencing Guangdong’s January movement is the season ending injury to center David Harrison, who sustained a broken fibula on December 15th against Jilin. To replace Harrison, Guangdong was close to signing former 2005 lottery pick, Ike Diogu, to a rest-of-the-season deal. But, the Los Angeles Clippers stepped in at the buzzer and brought in Diogu on a tryout before eventually signing him in an effort to bolster their frontcourt.
Though Guangdong is short one import, unhappy with another and thus clearly behind Xinjiang in the CBA pecking order, the team will not rush into a deal merely for the sake of shaking things up. Though they are keeping tabs on NBA rosters, expect them to bide their time and wait for the right player to become available with a move likely to be made by the end of next week.
Beijing, short an import themselves after the short-lived Steve Francis experiment came and went, is also weighing several options as they search for a replacement. At an advantage over most teams because of their bottom four finish last year, the Ducks have been able to carry a third Asian import on the roster in addition to the league mandated two non-Asian import player limit. With former New York/Atlanta center, Randolph Morris, dominating on offense and Jordan national team forward, Zaid Abbas, taking care of the dirty work on defense, Beijing has exceeded all expectations to start the year at 7-3, despite being virtually sans Francis for the whole year.
All set up front, Beijing is looking to add a scoring guard to take pressure off off of Taiwanese point-guard, Lee Hsueh-Lin, who prefers to distribute rather than shoot.
And no stranger to foreign player turnover, Shanxi Zhongyu is also interested in acquiring a new import, with former New Orleans Hornets draft pick, Cedric Simmons, as their primary target.
Follow Jon Pastuszek on Twitter @NiuBBall