Quincy Douby will once again play in China, but he won’t be playing in the same uniform. (Photo: Osports)
Quincy Douby is returning to play basketball in a country that will be quite familiar. To the surprise of many, however, the team he’ll be playing for will be quite different.
Douby will be back in the Chinese Basketball Association next season after having officially signed with the Zhejiang Chouzhou Golden Bulls. The news was announced by Zhejiang’s official Weibo feed yesterday and was quickly followed up by several reports by major outlets in China.
Douby, who re-signed with the Xinjiang Guanghui Flying Tigers last season after enjoying one of the most dominant single seasons in CBA history in 2010-11, missed the entire 2011-12 season due to a broken wrist suffered in a pre-season game in October. He recently played in Spain with UCAM Murcia, where he helped the team stave off relegation from the ACB’s top division.
Though Douby’s late season stint in Spain cast some doubt over his chances at returning in China, his decision to play again in the CBA generally considered a foregone conclusion. Considered as one of the top foreign players in league history after nearly leading the Flying Tigers to their first ever championship two years ago, Chinese demand for the former Rutgers standout was high throughout the league.
The move to Zhejiang, however, is surprising given Xinjiang’s public confidence that he would return to the team for a third time. Team management was quoted several times over the course of the last three months as saying talks between the two sides were going well and that they expected another reunion for a shot at a title. Similar to Stephon Marbury’s iconic status in China’s capital, Beijing, Douby is viewed as a local hero in Xinjiang’s provincial capital, Urumqi, and is viewed as one of the biggest reasons why Xinjiang was nearly able to get their first title in 2011. Prior to yesterday’s announcement, there had been no mention of interest from Zhejiang and it was considered almost a lock in China that he’d sign again in Urumqi.
But while Xinjiang is reeling from the news, Zhejiang is celebrating. The move is a major coup for the Golden Bulls and their newly installed head coach, Yang Xuezeng, all of whom are committed to leading the team back to post-season after going through a disappointing campaign last year. Coming off of a playoff appearance in 2010-11, the Golden Bulls took advantage of a work stoppage in the NBA by signing J.R. Smith to a record multi-million dollar contract. Though Smith finished the year as the league’s scoring champ, his play and behavior was erratic and the Golden Bulls ended up missing the post-season.
If their goal was to replace Smith’s offensive production while subtracting all of the behavioral issues, Douby is the ideal choice. Already familiar with China and all of its unique characteristics, is as safe of a signing as he is electric. In his first and only season in the CBA in 2010-11, Douby averaged 31.9 points, 4.3 rebounds, 4.6 assists and 3.5 steals on 53.7% shooting over 45 total regular and post-season games. In Game 1 of the 2011 CBA Finals against the Guangdong Hongyuan Southern Tigers, he set a Finals single-game scoring record, hitting for 53 points in a win. Weeks earlier, he also broke the CBA All-Star Game all-time single game scoring record, going for 45 points en route to winning the game’s most Most Valuable Player award.
Douby is just one of many new faces set to be in Yiwu this season. Yang, who resigned from Shanxi Zhongyu in early May, was hired on May 23rd after Zhejiang management elected not to bring back Ding Wei. In looking at Yang’s recent tendencies in the foreign player market, Zhejiang’s unanticipated swoop is less surprising: He relied upon two CBA foreign veterans last year, Marcus Williams and Charles Gaines, to achieve the team’s first ever post-season appearance. Judging by Douby, he is obviously taking the same strategy of going with more proven players over those who have higher profiles, but zero experience playing in China.
And as it stands, Yang will have a chance to replicate the success he had last year in Taiyuan this year in Yiwu. With a decent roster of Chinese, lead by Chinese National Team power forward, Ding Jinhui, the Golden Bulls will be in a solid position to make some noise in 2012-13.
Where Xinjiang goes next is unclear. One summer removed from spending nearly US $10 million in off-season signings to finally get over the championship hump, an unprecedented amount of money in the CBA, Xinjiang is still without its title and now are in a state of flux. The team fired Chinese National Team head coach, Bob Donewald Jr., a mere 11 games into a four-year contract after the team started the season 7-4. High profile NBA star, Kenyon Martin, left the team soon after and Patty Mills, Douby’s replacement, left under controversial circumstances after management accused him of faking an injury in order to be released back to the NBA. Mills vehemently denied those accusations.
The instability that plagued them during the season has followed them into the offseason. After failing to even get back to the CBA Finals, longtime team president, Hou Wei, resigned shortly after this season and Jiang Xingquan stepped down for the second season in a row to make way for a new coach.
But with their stop-at-nothing championship ambitions and their endless pockets, its safe to assume they’ll be looking to attract a talented and expensive guard to ease the pain of losing their provincial hero. Where they go at this point is anybody’s guess, but it will certainly be one of the main stories to follow this summer in the CBA rumor mill.