According to an AOL Sporting News report published yesterday, Memphis Grizzlies center, Hamed Haddadi, is engaged in talks with teams in China.
“We’re in talks now for him to play in China,” Haddadi’s agent, Marc Cornstein, told Sporting News. “There are some good opportunities there and, the more he plays, the more he will develop.”
Judging from the team he’s talking to, it looks like he’ll have all the time he wants to develop.
According to a source speaking anonymously to NiuBBall.com, the Foshan Dralions have had made an offer of up to $200,000 a month to the Iranian-born center that includes an opt-out clause if the NBA lockout ends during the season. Though talks have clearly progressed beyond the initial stages, it is unclear as to when Haddadi will make a decision.
Haddadi would be a dangerous weapon in the CBA if he were on the right team. CBA rules allow for one Asian import player to be signed by each of the four teams who finished with the worst record the previous season. Adding one is a considerable advantage over the rest of the league. Unlike every team’s two American imports, who are not allowed to play on the court together for more than two quarters per game, Asian imports are not subjected to on-court restrictions. If the 7-3 Haddadi, who is an Iranian citizen, were to sign as an Asian import, he could play unlimited minutes alongside two talented American imports, which would make whatever team he signed onto very formidable next season.
Foshan, who was led by Stephon Marbury last season, finished with the fourth worst record in the league last year at 11-21 and are thus eligible to sign an Asian import. The other three teams are Fujian, Tianjin and Qingdao.
Last season, Haddadi played in 31 games for the Grizzlies, averaging 2.4 points and 2.2 rebounds in 5.4 minutes per game. Memphis extended a qualifying offer to him at the end of June, making Haddadi a restricted free agent. He would be scheduled to make $2 million next year if he accepted.
Followers of NiuBBall should know we’ve gone on record as saying Haddadi should be playing in China. If we were the GM of an Asian import-eligible team, our first call would be to get Haddadi’s agent on the line. With his size and skill set, he’d be a nightmare on both ends of the court for opposing match-ups and would essentially guarantee his team a playoff spot if he stayed the entire season. If Zaid Abbas, hands down the CBA’s best Asian import the last two seasons, can lead Shanghai and Beijing to the playoffs, you’d better believe Haddadi could and maybe then some. Having an NBA caliber player on your team is one thing — having one who can play the whole game is another. This would be an excellent move on Foshan’s part if this went down.