While Mitt Romney and Barack Obama sparred on Monday over Sino-American trade policy, there’s one highly lucrative U.S. export market that is gaining momentum by the day: Former NBA All-Stars to the Chinese Basketball Association.
In a report first published by Yahoo! Sports, three-time NBA All-Star Gilbert Arenas is on the verge of signing a deal with the Guangdong Southern Tigers. He becomes the second high-profile NBA name to sign in the Middle Kingdom this season, joining the Qingdao Eagles-bound Tracy McGrady.
Today, Guangdong general manger, Liu Hongjiang, moved to cool down American reports, saying that a deal hasn’t been formally reached and that there are still several particulars which still need to be worked out with Arenas and his representatives He said that a final decision likely won’t be reached until the league’s pre-season.
For people following the story, Arenas’ move to China shouldn’t come as a huge shock. According an ESPN.com report in September, Arenas had been seriously considering China after it became apparent that he was not going to be targeted by an NBA team this off-season. A NiuBBall.com source confirmed a separate ESPN.com report written yesterday that Arenas was in negotiations with the Yao Ming-owned Shanghai Sharks earlier in the off-season, but the deal ultimately was unable to get done due to differences over salary.
Last season for the Memphis Grizzlies, Arenas averaged 4.2 points in 17 appearances.
Arenas will join a revamped Guangdong roster that includes the return of Yi Jianlian, who played with the team both as a youth player and as a professional before eventually being drafted into the NBA in 2007. The sight of one another this season in China will be a familiar one: Arenas and Yi played together in 2010-11 season with the Washington Wizards.
The addition of Arenas — and his former teammate Yi — clearly illustrates the goal of the Guangdong club this year: Win a championship at all costs. Last year’s Finals loss to Beijing was viewed as a serious step back and a black mark on the team’s image and ownership has made it clear that they are committed to re-investing large amounts of money to make sure there is no repeat of that failure this season. With the addition of Arenas, a big and strong scorer in the backccourt who can match-up with Marbury, and Yi, an NBA-caliber seven footer who will be under no playing time restrictions due to his registration as a Chinese player, the logic is easy to follow from an on-paper roster perspective.
The CBA season is slated to open up in late November, although the official schedule has yet to be released.