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Zhang Zhaoxu… CBA’s highest paid Chinese player?


How many Subway footlongs could 8 million RMB buy? Depends on if you’re eating the Sub of the Day, but the answer is a lot.

Is “Max” Zhang Zhaoxu on his way to becoming Chinese basketball’s first eight million RMB man?

Could be, according to several recent reports. The Shanghai Sharks 7’3 center is reportedly being offered big money from both the Beijing Ducks and the Xinjiang Flying Tigers.

Last Thursday, Sina Sports, citing an unnamed source, reported that the Ducks are poised to offer a multi-year deal worth CNY 5 million anually (US $808,767) plus a Beijing hukou, while the Tigers will go as high as 8 million ($1,294,027) to get Zhang’s signature.

Though CBA salaries aren’t listed publicly anywhere, its widely believed that Tang Zhengdong, who signed with the same Flying Tigers squad two seasons ago, is the league’s highest paid Chinese player with an annual salary between CNY 4 and 5 million. If Zhang ends up signing for the figures that have been reported, he would become the league’s highest paid player.

Zhang has been part of the China National Team setup the last two summers, most recently at the 2012 London Olympics.

Last season for the Sharks, Zhang averaged 8.5 points, 8.0 rebounds and 2.9 blocks per game.

The rhetoric from all sides since Thursday has been predictable: Beijing GM, Yuan Chao, called Xinjiang’s offer “excessive,” while Zhang, who is currently representing Shandong province at the 2013 China National Games preliminary tournament in Chongqing, denied the reports and said that other teams are also pursuing him as well.

Of course for Xinjiang, throwing around bundles of money is nothing new. But for Beijing, this is something of a new phenomenon for a club that has only become increasingly aggressive in the open market within the last two years. Last summer, the Ducks were rumored to be going after Liaoning’s All-Star center, Han Dejun, before they were finally rebuffed. Eventually, they ended up making a splash by signing 2012 CBA All-Star Game MVP and second leading Chinese scorer in the league, Li Gen, to a big money multi-year contract.

For Xinjiang, they’re looking to secure a piece that take the reigns one day from Mengke Bateer and Tang and keep the club in contention for that elusive first championship. For Beijing, who already has a good young core of Chinese with Zhai Xiaochuan, Zhu Yanxi and Ji Zhe, they’re looking to solidify a multi-year title run. And with the omnipresent rumors over adding Sun Yue, it looks like the Ducks are not going to spare any expense to ensure they’re in the championship mix for the next few years.

On the other hand, some will argue whether Zhang is actually worth it. Since leaving Cal-Berkeley one year early to play professionally with the Sharks in 2010, Zhang has made big strides in his game, as evidenced by his 2011-12 NiuBBall Most Improved Player award. But as Andrew Crawford over at Shark Fin Hoops writes, Zhang took a step back this season and had trouble cracking Dan Panaggio’s rotation to start the season. With that in mind, plus the fact that despite being a presence as a rim protecter, he’s never been able to consistently stay on the floor for large chunks of minutes because of conditioning and foul trouble, should teams really be falling head-over-heels to make him the league’s highest paid player?

Then there’s the issue of how he’d fit in with the two teams as currently constructed. The Ducks, who are still very much Stephon Marbury’s team, thrive on spreading the floor so Marbury can get into the paint and make things happen. With Zhang on the floor, whose range is limited to six feet, that strategy might have to be compromised. With the Flying Tigers, they already have two high paid centers, Tang and Bateer. Although they’re aging and past their respective primes, its unclear how three players who play the same position would be able to share minutes.

Whatever the case, this saga probably has a lot that has yet to be played out. But if these reported numbers are in fact accurate, the biggest issue at hand might not be Zhang itself, but the longer-term problem of skyrocketing salaries.


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4 Responses to “Zhang Zhaoxu… CBA’s highest paid Chinese player?”

  1. Chris.zhen Says:

    As a hard core fans of Shandong, I wish he could sign with Lions. He went quite well with Shandong in National Games. (Shandong Sports Center paid him ¥2,000,000 for playing).



  1. Three Team Bidding War Breaking Out Over Zhang Zhaoxu? | Shark Fin Hoops - April 23, 2013

    […] Jon Pastuzek has the exact numbers over at Niubball. Beijing would potentially offer Zhang five-million RMB ($800,000) and Xinjiang […]

  2. Dispatches From Xinjiang: Who Are The Guang Hui Flying Tigers Of Xinjiang? | That's Beijing - Beijing and China News - March 22, 2014

    […] by Sun’s billions the Flying Tigers can throw a lot of money at players; this alone might be what puts them in competition with franchises in Beijing, Shanghai […]

  3. Who are the Guang Hui Flying Tigers? | the art of life in chinese central asia - March 24, 2014

    […] by Sun’s billions the Flying Tigers can throw a lot of money at players; this alone might be what puts them in competition with franchises in Beijing, Shanghai […]

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