During the 2018 offseason, NBA veterans like Cole Aldrich, Al Jefferson, and Marreese Speights were among those to sign contracts in China. As Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype notes in an excellent, in-depth look at Chinese basketball’s free agent system, teams in the Chinese Basketball Association can offer players more money than clubs in just about any other non-NBA league in the world, which appeals to unsigned vets.
“If you talk to players who aren’t in the NBA, just about every player’s first choice is China,” one agent told Kennedy. “The vast majority of players outside of the NBA want to sign in China. There are a lot of players who make seven figures in China. Even the smaller deals are solid, paying at least $300K after taxes. It’s also a relatively short season compared to other leagues. … When the CBA season ends, players can try to join an NBA team for the remainder of the season. It’s attractive for many reasons.”
While heading to China might be appealing to undrafted players who were unable to catch on with NBA teams, most Chinese clubs are focusing on players who have previous NBA experience, as another agent tells Kennedy.
“They think, ‘If this guy played in the NBA, he must be good,'” the agent said. “They also understand that fans will be more interested in a player if they can use the word ‘NBA’ to market him. It helps them sell tickets and things like that. I always tell players if they want to sign in China, they either need NBA experience or they need to be absolutely dominating wherever they’re currently playing.”
Here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:
- ESPN’s draft experts, led by Jonathan Givony, have updated their big board of 2019’s top 100 prospects and provided in-depth updates on five prospects whose stock has risen recently, including Stanford forward KZ Okpala (Insider-only link).
- The Ringer’s staff recently revealed their picks for the NBA’s top 25 players through 25 (or so) games. The list is littered with players in potential contract years, including Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, Kemba Walker, Marc Gasol, Kyrie Irving, Jimmy Butler, and Tobias Harris, among others, reflecting the strength of 2019’s free agent class.
- On the other end of the spectrum, Frank Urbina of HoopsHype takes a closer look at four 2019 free-agents-to-be who may be hurting their stocks a little with their play so far this season.
- As Carmelo Anthony seeks out his next NBA opportunity, Kirk Goldsberry of ESPN.com takes a deep dive into the numbers to explain why Anthony’s old-school game won’t appeal to analytically-minded NBA franchises.