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Tag Archives: Hamed Haddadi

Sichuan Blue Whales win promotion to CBA, round out new foreign lineup

October 7, 2013


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The CBA’s newest expansion team, the Sichuan Whales, will enter their inagural season with three foreign players, Hamed Haddadi, Herve Lamizana and Johnny Flynn, as well as a foreign head coach, J.T. Prada.

Southwestern China has been starving for some top level basketball for a long time. They won’t have to wait any longer.

Last month, the CBA officially announced the promotion of the Sichuan Jinqiang Blue Whales to the Chinese Basketball Association, and will become the 18th team in the league.

The decision, which was officially announced on September 29th, ends what had been a long-time rumored end-result to the league’s expansion plans. Dating as far back as summer 2012, the CBA had been evaluation expansion plans with the idea of promoting a team from the second-tier professional league, the National Basketball League. For various reasons, those plans were put on hold and the once-in-a-few year opportunity for teams to rise up to the top professional level was carried over to 2013. Even then, it wouldn’t be until several months after the conclusion of the NBL season for a final decision to be announced.


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Monday Morning Jianbing

August 1, 2011


Starting your day right with China’s favorite street breakfast and a bunch of links… even if it’s almost 1pm. If you woke up late, enjoy your first meal of the day. If you’ve been up for a while, enjoy it as a snack. We promise it’s still really good in the afternoon.

  • Alexander Johnson, who played last season in China for Shanxi, has been charged with marijuana possession. Like Rodney White, who also played last year in China before being arrested for (much bigger) marijuana-related charge, Johnson signed on with a Korean team for next year. We don’t know what this means for both of them in terms of their futures in Korea next year, but if this Korean article is any indication (and if my Google translate is somewhat accurate, not a given), it looks like they may have to find other jobs. (H/T to Andrew Lowman over at Asia Basketball Update for passing that along.)
  • Kobe Bryant’s chances of playing in Turkey this season are “zero,” according to a Yahoo! report. That of course leads to China, where Kobe has reportedly exchanged offers with CBA teams about playing on a month-to-month basis. According to the report, he’d be allowed to go back to the Lakers at the end of the lockout, but as we learned yesterday, the Chinese Basketball Association might not be OK with the idea of their league becoming a temporary haven for locked-out NBA players.
  • How does Carmelo Anthony’s Panda-posing match-up against Kevin Durant’s? Hardwood Paroxysm breaks it down. A must read for fans of pandas and basketball. ‘Melo, along with Chris Paul and Dwyane Wade, is on the Jordan Brand Flight Tour, a four-city China tour that promotes the sport and the brand through various appearances and events. SLAMonline has pictures.
  • And speaking of Stephon Marbury… he’s being sued by a bank for $16 million for not paying back a loan his Starbury shoe company took out back in 2006.
  • In response to our report two days ago, Foshan management has publicly denied that they’ve made a $200,000 a month offer to current Memphis Grizzlies center, Hamed Haddadi. They admit, however, that there has been contact between the team and Haddadi’s agent.
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Hamed Haddadi heading to Foshan?

July 31, 2011


According to an AOL Sporting News report published yesterday, Memphis Grizzlies center, Hamed Haddadi, is engaged in talks with teams in China.

“We’re in talks now for him to play in China,” Haddadi’s agent, Marc Cornstein, told Sporting News. “There are some good opportunities there and, the more he plays, the more he will develop.”

Judging from the team he’s talking to, it looks like he’ll have all the time he wants to develop.

According to a source speaking anonymously to, the Foshan Dralions have had made an offer of up to $200,000 a month to the Iranian-born center that includes an opt-out clause if the NBA lockout ends during the season. Though talks have clearly progressed beyond the initial stages, it is unclear as to when Haddadi will make a decision.

Haddadi would be a dangerous weapon in the CBA if he were on the right team. CBA rules allow for one Asian import player to be signed by each of the four teams who finished with the worst record the previous season. Adding one is a considerable advantage over the rest of the league. Unlike every team’s two American imports, who are not allowed to play on the court together for more than two quarters per game, Asian imports are not subjected to on-court restrictions. If the 7-3 Haddadi, who is an Iranian citizen, were to sign as an Asian import, he could play unlimited minutes alongside two talented American imports, which would make whatever team he signed onto very formidable next season.

Foshan, who was led by Stephon Marbury last season, finished with the fourth worst record in the league last year at 11-21 and are thus eligible to sign an Asian import. The other three teams are Fujian, Tianjin and Qingdao.

Last season, Haddadi played in 31 games for the Grizzlies, averaging 2.4 points and 2.2 rebounds in 5.4 minutes per game. Memphis extended a qualifying offer to him at the end of June, making Haddadi a restricted free agent. He would be scheduled to make $2 million next year if he accepted.

Followers of NiuBBall should know we’ve gone on record as saying Haddadi should be playing in China. If we were the GM of an Asian import-eligible team, our first call would be to get Haddadi’s agent on the line. With his size and skill set, he’d be a nightmare on both ends of the court for opposing match-ups and would essentially guarantee his team a playoff spot if he stayed the entire season. If Zaid Abbas, hands down the CBA’s best Asian import the last two seasons, can lead Shanghai and Beijing to the playoffs, you’d better believe Haddadi could and maybe then some. Having an NBA caliber player on your team is one thing — having one who can play the whole game is another. This would be an excellent move on Foshan’s part if this went down.

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Yao Ming’s big summer of uncertainty

April 23, 2011


The CBA surprised everyone a little bit a couple of weeks ago when they accounced the inclusion of Yao Ming, who is still not completely recovered after missing the majority of the lat two years with foot injuries, on the Chinese national team training camp roster.

As we wrote after the announcement, it’s more symbolic than anything.  As the face of Chinese basketball, it’s Yao’s duty (according to the CBA) to fulfill his commitment to the country that raised him into the NBA All-Star he is today. Even if he’s on the list, he’s unlikely to play.

Or is he?

In a story written on April 15th, the Yangtse Evening Post reported that the CBA is privately hoping that Yao will be ready to play for the National team this September for the 2011 FIBA Asia Championship, which will be held in Wuhan.  It’s an important tournament for China: The winner automatically qualifies for the 2012 London Olympics and averts from playing in a high stakes Olympic Qualifying Tournament in July 2012.

China’ debacle in 2009, when they lost in the same tournament to Iran in the finals, is also a huge reason why the CBA would like to see Yao in a Team China jersey again. Without Yao, who was out of the lineup with a broken left foot, China struggled to contain Iranian 7-3 big man, Hamed Haddadi, who went off in the finals for 19 points and 17 in the championship match.

Without Haddadi in November, who was in the States playing for the Memphis Grizzlies, Iran nearly beat China in the semi-finals of the Asian Games in Guangzhou.  With Haddadi and possibly Arsalan Kazemi, the first Iranian player ever to play NCAA D-1 basketball, suiting up for Iran, China will have its hands full trying to prevent their rivals from snatching their third straight Asia Championship.

Obviously, the CBA is feeling a ton of pressure to win gold, otherwise they wouldn’t even consider resorting to the drastic measure of risking Yao’s long-term health.  In Chinese sports. gold medals are considered as necessities, not luxuries.  Anything short of a gold would be a failure in the eyes China National Sports Administration, which means more pressure on the CBA.

Uncertainty around Yao’s National team future is just one of many things contributing to what is likely going to be a stressful summer.  Heading into a potential lockout with bum feet, Yao for the first time in his career is a free-agent with an uncertain future.  Though Houston has indicated they’d like to bring back Yao if he’s healthy enough, longtime Rockets head coach, Rick Adelman, was let go by the team earlier this week.

No NBA contract, no NBA head coach and no way of knowing whether he’s going to be healthy enough to play for China in September… yeah, we think Yao will have even more on his mind than usual when the weather heats up.

The media attention to Yao’s possible return has been huge, so big in fact that Yao himself responded two days ago to set the record straight about the CBA’s intentions:

The CBA truly hasn’t put any pressure on me, it’s not like they’re trying to torture me like everyone is saying. They’re attitude are completely in accordance with the interests of my health.  They just hope that if my body is up to it, I can represent the National team. I’m hoping the same thing, too.

Call us crazy, but after reading this little snippet from Yao, we think more basketball is the last thing this guy needs right now:

“I’m still in very limited workouts,” Yao said. “I still cannot walk on my full weight. I have to try on the court running up and down and then see how it is going.

“In 10 weeks I can start running up and down the court a little bit. At that time the foot will tell me how much I can get back.”

(H/T Off the Dribble)

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These guys should be playing in China

March 2, 2011


Often when talking about the Chinese Basketball Association, we discuss players who would do better if they played elsewhere, whether professionally in Europe or other places of the world, or collegiately in America.

But, Andrew Lowman over at Asia Basketball Update is wondering who should be playing in the CBA:

With all of the action of well-known NBA players bouncing in and out of China this season I got to thinking about which players which players should be playing there. Part of the issue I see is that the CBA teams have felt that an NBA stint on the resume was enough to fill their arenas and take their teams to the top of the standings. This is not the case anymore. So then who should be coming over to play?

That got us thinking.  Here’s what we came up with:

Sun Yue: Sun is Chinese, starts for the Chinese National Team and has played for the Los Angeles Lakers.  He’s a 6-9 guard who causes a lot of match-up problems against vertically challenged opposing perimeter lineups, not by doing the things most tall guards do on offense (posting up, backing guys down), but by recently figuring out how to drive and dish, and also — somewhat shockingly if we may add — how to shoot the crap out of the ball from three.

So why isn’t he playing in the CBA?  Because he plays for Winston Lee and Beijing Aoshen, one of the weirdest professional teams in the entire world.  Instead of playing in China’s national professional league, Sun has been relegated to playing in an international invitational basketball tournament in his home province of Hebei, where he racks up 44 points against the San Francisco Rumble.

Yeah, we think Sun should be playing in the CBA, too.

Hamed Haddadi: Really tall and relatively skilled, the 7-3 Iranian center, despite being under contract with the Memphis Grizzlies, has made his name mostly on the international scene in recent years.  Since most of those international matches have come in and/or against Team China, Chinese fans are quite familiar with him.  In 2007, Haddadi led Iran to their first ever FIBA Asia Championship in Japan, though with Team China’s place in the 2008 Beijing Olympics already having been booked as the host nation, the the 14-time champs sent out their “B Team” and finished in 7th.

At the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Haddadi followed up his success in Japan by becoming the only player to average a double-double (16.6 points, 11.2 rebounds, 2.6 blocks) in the competition.  His excellent individual play on the world stage led the Grizzlies to sign him to a three-year deal.

After only playing 120 minutes in his NBA rookie season, Haddadi rejoined Team Iran for their FIBA Asian Championship title defense in Tianjin, China.  Against a Yao Ming-less China that was otherwise at full-strength, Haddadi went for 19 points and 17 rebounds in a 70-52 drubbing of the host nation in the finals, securing Iran’s first back-to-back Asian Championship and capturing tournament MVP.

With Haddadi’s contract with Memphis due to expire this summer, its unclear what the 25 year-old has in his plans for next year.  Now in his third year with the team, he’s still been unable to secure a spot in Lionel Hollins’ regular rotation. If he were to bolt from his usual spot on the bench to a league where he could play and develop more, China would be a place to consider.  The money’s good, the season is short and the playing time would be ample.  And if he was signed as an Asian import next year by one of the teams who finished in the bottom four this year,  he could play unlimited minutes alongside two other imports.

If he were to play professionally in Asia outside of his native Iran, he’d likely have to receive a pretty big salary, but if the league and teams are serious about attracting the best talent in Asia to the CBA, Haddadi should be at the top of their list this offseason.  The problem is however, Haddadi would also probably be at the top of several big name European clubs’ wish list this summer — Partizan Belgrade and Barcelona reportedly both made unsuccessful attempts to sign him in years past, and if he were to hit the open market, its likely that teams with similar reputations would also try to attract his services.

Sebastian Telfair: You know who his cousin is, right?

And now we ask you, our beloved readers: Have we missed anyone?  Who else should be playing in China?

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