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NBA Stars Consider the CBA as an Option, but Teams May Not Take the Risk

July 27th, 2011 · 5 Comments · Basketball, Business

Could this man be wearing the uniform of a CBA team during the lockout?

With all of the hoopla around former Houston Rockets’ center Yao Ming’s retirement, some may have forgotten that the NBA is still in lockout mode. As players and owners still haggle over an agreement, many of the top NBA stars have had a lot of free time on their hands this summer and it looks like they will still have a lot of down time come September when teams should be heading into training camp getting ready for the new season.

So what does an NBA player do while he is banned from team facilities or contacting anyone remotely affiliated with his team?

Perhaps Kevin Durant will bring his game to China for a brief period?

The Oklahoma Thunder’s star forward, Kevin Durant and Los Angeles Lakers’ guard, Kobe Bryant recently made appearances in China hosting basketball clinics. Bryant’s teammate, Pau Gasol and newly crowned NBA champion, Dirk Nowitzki, are back in Europe with their respective national squads preparing the 2011 European Basketball Championships. Meanwhile, KFC is trying to entice one of their former employees, the Miami Heat’s Dwyane Wade, to comeback and work for them.

Despite all of the tours or international basketball ongoing at the moment, the big question is what will these players do come September if there is still no end to the lockout? Some players are already considering playing basketball elsewhere in the world.

Things started off with New Jersey Nets’ point guard Deron Williams signing with Turkish league team Besiktas. Slovenian national team guard Sasha Vujacic otherwise known as the future Mr. Maria Sharapova, followed in the steps of his Nets teammate by also signing with a Turkish team, Anadolu Efes.

This is only the beginning as more players maybe looking to what options they have overseas in order to stay fit while negotiators try to hammer out a new agreement.

Some serious thinking is needed by CBA teams

One of the options that some players may look at is playing in the Chinese Basketball Association. The Orlando Magic’s Dwight Howard and Durant have been on record as to saying that they are considering the possibility of playing in the Chinese basketball league should the lockout persist.

While many basketball fans in China maybe drooling over the idea of having a few top NBA stars in China’s top league, one needs to take a step back and be totally realistic about this prospect.

First, a CBA team signing a player the likes of Howard, Durant or anyone else would be a huge coup and most likely fill arenas in every CBA city. However, teams are probably considering whether it would be worth the gamble offering a lot of money to a player when the lockout could possibly end at any point. It would definitely be a poor investment on the part of a CBA team to part with so much money. Certainly, many of these teams are also wary of the whole Steve Francis fiasco during the previous season.

If anything, the CBA teams would most likely pursue offering a contract to a host of NBA free agents that are on the market. The likes of Russian Andrei Kirilenko, Tyson Chandler and, yes, Yao Ming’s former teammates in Houston, Tracy McGrady and Shane Battier are in the pool of players possibly looking for new teams. Perhaps a stint over in the ‘Middle Kingdom’ would be useful for them.

Second, if any of the top NBA players are strongly considering to play in China during the lockout, they have to realize that there are only a few big market cities in the country. Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou can certainly provide these players with a rather comfortable life off the court, but would any of them be willing to sign for teams in Liaoning, Jilin or Shanxi?

In addition, how will the players adapt to the lack of luxuries they receive while playing in the American ‘Association’? They have to face the reality of playing in cold gyms, changing in makeshift locker rooms and possibly sharing a room with a teammate while on the road. These are certainly things they haven’t experienced since high school. There is going to be a lot they will have to sacrifice and adapt to if they choose to play in China.

Wukesong Basketball Arena: NBA players won't be seeing the inside of this place

Third, there is no guarantee that fans will see any of the top NBA stars in the league due to the strict rules that are imposed on teams by the CBA. With the number of foreign players allowed on each team limited, the amount of minutes they can play limited and a strict salary cap imposed, this could lead to most players looking to the European leagues or other places to play.

While it may seem like a smashing idea to have the rare opportunity of a star NBA player on a CBA roster during the lockout, fans should not hold their breath on this. It going to be a long time until there is confirmation that the 2011-2012 NBA season will be canceled and a few of the well-known ballers signing contracts with teams here.


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5 Comments so far ↓

  • Andrew Weaver

    This lockout has little to do with the players and more to do with the owners sentimental reaction of losing revenue. This has been attributed by the NBA’s decision to mirror big businesses harmful profit schemes championed by Commissioner Stern and his associates. Otherwise the NBA wouldn’t be in the financial disposition that it’s in. As such you have a commissioner ignoring players concerns by giving full control to corrupt referees who openly admit to betting on games, making wrong calls, and saying they don’t care. This behavior is a way to control the players and the outcome of games without any oversight. That’s why commissioner Sterns actions have violated the leagues rules and guidelines. This type of behavior is disgraceful and unethical. It’s a spit in the face to players, fans and the leagues image. That’s why I’m asking NBA fans to stand behind the calling for Commissioner Sterns resignation. Because it’s fans who built the NBA’s empire and it’s fans who can change it.


    Kenya Reply:

    I’m 100 percent behind you on calling for Stern’s resignation. No doubt, he had some impact with how he NBA is as a business. However, he is now out of touch with the league and the fans.

    I personally think it is time for a former player to take over as commissioner and make the league fun again. I’m thinking Ervin “Magic” Johnson would be the best man for the job. Either him or Charles Barkely. Flagrant fouls would no doubt be allowed if Sir Charles was running things.


  • bcheng

    You’re right on, which is why I think if these guys come to China, they aren’t coming to the CBA. Even if they go to a team in Beijing, Guangzhou, or Shanghai, they’ll still have to make trips to Taiyuan and Urumuqi, I just can’t see that happening. Instead, I think it’s more likely that players will come together and put together an exhibition tour, where they play multiple games in each city.

    That does bring up an interesting question, if they did that and came to Beijing, would they be able to play at Wukesong since its owned by the NBA (well NBA China) and thus the league owners?!


    Kenya Reply:


    If this were to go down I think some of the players may only sign for teams that have foreign coaches. However, as I mentioned before since the CBA has a strict limit on the number of import players that are allowed on each team, this will make the entire prospect of having an NBA player on a CBA squad totally unattractive to teams. These teams could sign two imports for far less money than signing a top NBA star.

    I would not be surprised if many of these players just opt for arranging exhibition games in China. This was mentioned on another site. There’s a lot of red tape they would have to go through to do this, but I think the CBA and the government would be alright with it.

    As for Wukesong, I’m sure someone would find some kind of loophole so that the NBA guys could play in there.


  • Maggie

    Good to see someone who knows what they are talking about pumping the brakes on all this “Kobe’s coming to China” talk. While a few players could end up here, there is lots working against that. In addition to what you’ve pointed out, it’s also important to note that CBA teams like to wait until the last minute to sign their foreign players. They may be dangling salary figures now, but there are unlikely to be real offers until late September at the earliest. If players want to use international contracts as leverage, they are better off signing now — something they can do more easily in Europe than in China.

    I also disagree with the suggestion I’ve seen elsewhere that players like Dwayne Wade or Dwight Howard can do huge things for their marketability in China by playing here for a bit. Ultimately, Chinese basketball fans want to see them compete against the best players in the world in the best league in the world. The only players who have much to gain by coming here, in terms of becoming Big in China, are lesser-known players.


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