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The Boston Celtics are building a CBA All-Star Team

(Photo: Boston Herald via Red's Army)

(Photo: Boston Herald via Red’s Army)

For NBA fans who have always pined to see the Chinese Basketball Association, but have few if any opportunities to watch it outside of China, you’re in luck: The Boston Celtics have signed most of the league’s foreign player population to their NBA roster over the last week.

China-to-Boston speculation was rife in Celtics-land after Doc Rivers was quoted last month saying the team was looking at signing a player out of the CBA when its season ended. Turns out, they were looking at several players. After signing Terrence Williams to a 10-day contract, who played most of the season with the first-place Guangdong Southern Tigers before being replaced by Donald Sloan just before the post-season, the Celtics have followed up by signing D.J. White (Shanghai Sharks) and Shavlik Randolph (Foshan Long Lions) to two other 10-days.

While it’s a little surprising that one team has signed three players with Chinese experience this season, the fact that teams are looking across the Pacific Ocean for late-season help is a continuing trend that started two years ago.

With the economy in Europe continuing to decline, China has turned into a big money destination for globetrotting players. Casual fans know the big names the league has attracted (Tracy McGrady, Gilbert Arenas and Stephon Marbury, as well J.R. Smith, Wilson Chandler and Kenyon Martin among others included in a long list of locked-out players from last season), but there’s been plenty of other NBA-caliber players in the Middle Kingdom in recent years.

Last season alone, Ivan Johnson (Atlanta), Gerald Green (New Jersey), Lester Hudson (Cleveland), Alan Anderson (Toronto), James Singleton (Washington), Cartier Martin (Washington), Smith (New York) and Chandler (Denver) all signed in the NBA after their respective years in China ended. Patty Mills, who was released by his team in China last year, signed with San Antonio. But unlike the others just mentioned, only after he received his FIBA letter of clearance, which per league rules came after his team was eliminated from the CBA playoffs. Through a loophole in the CBA’s “no NBA lockout opt-out clause,” Kenyon Martin was able to sign back mid-season with the Clippers.

Before that, John Lucas III (Chicago) and Garret Siler (Phoenix) both signed in America after their CBA season were over.

What will happen with Randolph and White is anybody’s guess. White, who played alongside Gilbert Arenas (when healthy) for second-to-last place Shanghai this season, had a solid season individually averaging 21.6 points and 9.7 rebounds operating as the team’s lone foreign player for a large portion of the season due to Arenas’ well documented injury problems. Randolph, enjoying one of the few fully healthy seasons of his career, was instrumental in leading Foshan to its best ever record, averaging 32 points and 14.6 rebounds. Both have yet to play since officially signing their contracts within the last three days.

Williams, however, has already earned himself a contract for the rest of the season and non-guaranteed deal for next season. He’s appeared in four games for the green this year, averaging 11.3 minutes per game while giving the team some versatility and play-making on the wing.

With Gary Forbes, Singleton, Ike Diogu and Eddy Curry, all of whom have NBA experience on their resume, playing post-season ball right now, we’ll see if any more players are signed once their respective seasons are over.

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