Zhejiang Guangsha made headlines this offseason for signing Denver Nuggets forward, Wilson Chandler, as one of the first NBA-to-CBA player this season. And if it were up to them, they’d make more headlines for signing another NBA player to play along with him.
Too bad it’s not.
According to a source speaking anonymously with NiuBBall, Guangsha has been very active in trying to find a a high profile replacement for Earl Clark, who left the team in late September for personal reasons after becoming the first NBA player to sign in China in early August.
But instead of merely replacing Clark, Guangsha has been looking to upgrade at the position. According to the source, the team had entered negotiations with several NBA free-agent big men over the past two weeks, including Los Angeles Clippers center, DeAndre Jordan, and Boston Celtics forward, Glen Davis. Though there was enough interest on the player side to have back-and-forth talks, the two ultimately walked away from Guangsha due increased optimism back in the United States that there will be an NBA season this year.
With all other NBA big man options exhausted, Guangsha has officially turned to someone with Chinese experience, Dwyane Jones. Jones played last season for Fujian SBS, leading the league in rebounding at 15.8 per game while averaging a solid 18 points per game on 60% shooting.
The hesitation on Jordan and Davis’ end is understandable. As dedicated NiuBBallers know, choosing China as a lockout refuge comes with serious commitment. Per CBA rules, only players who are not under contact with an NBA team are eligible to play in China this season. In addition, any player who signs in China is barred from signing an out-clause that would allow him to return to the NBA whenever the lockout is over. The lone exception is Yi Jianlian, who can be registered as a local player. He is allowed to go back to the NBA whenever the season starts.
If there is any consolation for Guangsha in missing out on another NBA caliber player, they haven’t been the only team to have their offers to high profile free-agents rebuked in recent days. In fact, the market for higher profile free-agents may have already dried up altogether.
After seriously considering an offer from Jiangsu Nangang, Minnesota Timberwolves guard Sebastian Telfair has also decided ride out the lockout, according to an anonymous source with knowledge of the situation. The news ends what was a long period of on-again, off-again talks that peaked with an official announcement from Jiangsu general manger, Wang Min, stating that the two sides had agreed to a deal. Telfair’s agent, however, denied that there had been any agreement shortly after the news broke.
Wang was quoted in Basketball Pioneers two days ago saying that the team has given up on their pursuit of the former 2004 lottery pick and have begun to explore other options.
Meanwhile, Rodney Stuckey remains in a holding pattern with four-time defending champion, Guangdong Hongyuan. As ESPN’s Marc Stein tweeted on Monday, Guangdong is still waiting to hear back from the Detroit Pistons guard. According to Stein, Stuckey held off on accepting their offer last week when lockout negotiations were looking optimistic. And although negotitions broke down yet again, there is enough positive sentiment to warrant the belief that NBA basketball will resume this season. As of now, there appears to be no timetable on Stuckey’s decision.
With the NBA market now closed, Guangsha has settled on Jones and Jiangsu will quickly move onto to other players as well. But if Stuckey continues to take his time to decide, Guangdong is very likely to remain patient in signing their second import. Even if Stuckey’s final decision is to stay back West.
Unlike other CBA teams with thin and/or untalented Chinese rosters, Guangdong can afford to take their time in selecting their imports. Winners of seven out of the last eight CBA championships, including the last four, the Southern Tigers currently hold a monopoly on China’s National Team roster, which gives them a major edge over their competition. Four of Guangdong’s core players, guard Wang Shipeng, forwards Zhu Fangyu and Zhou Peng, and center Su Wei are all major pieces of the post-Yao Team China setup. Other teams rely almost solely on their high scoring imports to carry the load on offense. Guangdong on the other hand leans on its superior domestic talent to win games, opting to use their imports as added weapons on offense who can also keep opposing foreigners from going off on the other end.
Last season provided an excellent example of how Guangdong can their time to find the right mix of foreign players. In the league’s first week, center David Harrison sustained a season ending broken fibula on December 15th. For most teams, losing an established American center at a time where every other league in the world is in full swing would have been devastating. But, instead of rushing to sign any old American, the Southern Tigers remained patient, even as they started to lose a few more games than they were accustomed to in years past, before ultimately coming to a sound decision. Down one import ant Unsatisfied with the performance of another, Fred Jones, Guangdong waited more than a month later — January 20th — to cut Jones altogether and sign Lester Hudson and Marcus Haislip for the rest of the year. Guangdong ended up prospering from it all to win their fourth consecutive CBA championship later in April, despite finishing with their worst regular season record in eight years.
And with Yi Jianlian returning to his hometown team for at least the start of the season, Guangdong can take even more time in selecting their second import. So while Stuckey may be keeping them waiting, the team is hardly sweating it out — no matter how hot and humid the weather gets in DongGuan.
They’ll also feel better knowing they have an excellent import already in place. This season, Guangdong is all set up up front after having signed four-year NBA pro, James Singleton. Singleton played last season for the team that Guangdong beat in the finals, the Xinjiang Flying Tigers. In 43 games, he averaged 21.1 points, 9.5 rebounds, 1.4 blocks and 1.5 steals per game on 71.1% FG% and was a NiuBBall.com All-CBA First Team selection.