(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.
Apparently not impressed enough with the best record in the league, the Guangdong Southern Tigers have made a big roster change on the eve of the post-season.
Former Texas A&M standout, Donald Sloan, has officially replaced Terrence Williams and has already joined up with his new team in DongGuan. Sloan, who started the season with the Cleveland Cavaliers, was waived in late December where he went to the D-League with the Sioux Falls Skyforce. After a brief stint there, he was signed to a 10-day contract with the New Orleans Hornets, which was not extended upon completion.
Sloan, whose registration is reportedly not yet completed, is questionable for tonight’s home game against Shandong.
Though this season has been full of surprises in Guangdong, the move to replace Williams was not one of them. According to sources, head coach Jonas Kazlauskas has been keen to make a switch since arriving as he has been preferable towards having a foreign guard as opposed to wing player. The 25-year old Sloan, who excels at getting to the basket and dishing out to teammates, should fit Kazlauskas’ bill nicely. With Yi Jianlian and Ike Diogu up front, as well as the sharp-shooting combo of Wang Shipeng and Zhu Fangyu on the perimeter, the Southern Tigers are likely to cause even more problems for opponents if they go to the Euro-styled spread sets that their Lithuanian coach favors.
In 29 games, Williams averaged 17.9 points and 4.1 assists.
Guangdong has two more games on its regular season schedule, Shandong at home tonight and Foshan again at home on Sunday.
Stephon Marbury and the Beijing Ducks won the title last year… But will they have enough to repeat in 2012-13? (Photo: Osports)
Moreso than ever, the Chinese Basketball Association has become quite difficult to predict pre-season.
It’s hard to predict first of all because we generally stink at predictions, but more importantly that the league is as deep as its ever been top-to-bottom. There’s a more than a few reasons for that — more off-season player movement, more players going abroad to train in the summer, better coaching in-country, a commitment to strength and conditioning programs and better foreign players all round out the top of our list. But the end result of all that should be a very watchable and exciting league this season. Which is a good thing for us fans, of course.
Bad thing for NiuBBall’s annual predictions, however.
By our count, there’s 11 and possibly 12 teams (depending on how well you think Tracy McGrady is going to do in Qingdao) who have a shot at the playoffs. That’s well over half the league. If you think DongGuan is ready to make a jump (we do), then there are now four teams who could sport legitimate Finals cases. Building on Beijing’s buck-the-trend run to a championship last year, there appears to be a level of parody in the league. Pencilling in the top two, top four and top eight is no longer easy.
So as always, take what is about to come with a grain of salt and know that most likely this will all be very wrong.
According to a source, Ike Diogu may be on his way back to China, this time with Guangdong.
The clock is nearing zero on the countdown to the start of the CBA regular season, which means among other things, all of the loose ends regarding foreign player spots are being tied up. To help you lace up your shoes and get ready for some Chinese hoops, we’re getting you on your feet quicker with some nice tidy updates (in bullet form, of course).