The Chinese Basketball Association has hit the one-third mark, which means import players are being replaced at a higher rate. Let’s break down the moves that have gone down within the last week.
Guangsha officially swaps Gary Forbes in for Al Thornton
In a move that was announced yesterday, the Zhejiang Guangsha Lions are formally going forward with Forbes. The switch ends several weeks of uncertainty around Thornton and his status with the team. The former 2007 NBA lottery pick had been carrying an injury since arriving in Hanghzou for the pre-season, one that was apparently serious enough for management to call in for a backup plan, Forbes.
Though Thornton’s injury had an effect on his overall game, the former Florida State standout still found ways to put up numbers, averaging 27.4 points and 9.5 rebounds over eight games. But midway through the Lions’ Wednesday game against Jilin, he was forced to leave the game after his injury worsened. With Forbes already in tow, Guangsha moved quickly to make the switch.
Forbes, who played his college ball at Massachusetts, was with the Toronto Raptors last season and the Denver Nuggets in 2010-11. He is already in China and will play tonight against Liaoning.
With Gilbert Arenas still on the shelf, Sharks bring back Ryan Forehan-Kelly as relief
While Guangsha has been dealing with their own import injury problems, another team in nearby Shanghai have been dealing with similar issues. Gilbert Arenas, who was brought into the Yao Ming-owned Sharks just prior to the start of the season, continues to rehab a pulled groin he suffered midway through the first quarter in the CBA regular season opener against Beijing on November 24.
Initial reports in the media listed Arenas’ recovery time at 7-10 days. The Sharks, faced with the dilemma of waiting for their star American to get healthy while playing games with one foreigner, or immediately bringing in a replacement player for a only few games as a temporary stopgap, chose the former. Over the next five games, the Sharks went 2-3 playing with one foreigner, D.J .White; an overall impressive accomplishment given the circumstances.
Yet with Arenas still on the mend with his groin, the Sharks were forced to make their move. Ryan Forehan-Kelly, who played with the Sharks last year before his season was cut short by an Achilles injury, is now back in Shanghai. For how long though, remains a mystery, as there is no word as to when Agent Zero will be good to go.
Furthermore, bringing in a temporary replacement is a risky move. With rules only allowing teams to switch their imports two times during the regular season, bringing in Forehan-Kelly with the intention of bringing Arenas back later would give the Sharks zero flexibility further down the road if Arenas did in fact eventually return to the lineup. It also means that the Sharks, who don’t have the endless amounts of cash that other teams enjoy, are now paying three import-level salaries.
In his two games back with the Sharks, Forehan-Kelly is averaging eight points and four rebounds. But even more worrisome, the Sharks have dropped the last two games since having two imports in the lineup, and sitting in 16th place at 2-6, time is limited for a team that needs to start winning games quickly if they’re to get back into the post-season this year.
Qingdao: D.J. Mbenga out, Chris Daniels in
In what was a longtime fact of life in China basketball, Tracy McGrady’s 0-8 Eagles have made a move to bolster their inside game. Daniels, who has played four seasons in the South Korean KBL, a career which includes a championship with KCCEgis in 2011-12, comes from the NBDL where he played three games with the Santa Cruz Warriors. It’s unknown whether Daniels will be in the lineup tonight against Tianjin.