NBA PM: Dwyane Wade and China
There are two schools of thought for NBA players when it comes to playing overseas during the lockout.
For the league’s lunch-pail crowd, getting a better contract in Europe as opposed to playing in China is probably the best use of time while the NBA is on hiatus. But for the biggest stars, who want to increase their brand’s visibility in the world’s most-populous market, China is the only way to go.
However, Dwyane Wade may not have to make a decision along those lines since he reportedly got an offer of $2 million per month from Zhejiang Guangsha (that report, which came from The Chengdu Daily, was later denied by a team official). Whether or not he can make seven figures every thirty days in China is still debatable. What is certain is that Wade could get paid well in China—or at least better than 99% of NBA players and 100% of Chinese Basketball Association players—while drastically increasing his popularity. Americans already love Dwyane Wade, and that’s made him very wealthy, but who knows how much he’d be worth if China’s population was in his corner.
That’s why Wade’s agent, Henry Thomas, told ESPN.com’s Chris Sheridan that his client is open to offers from the CBA, even though he claims he has yet to receive one.
“If offers are made down the road, will they be looked at?” Thomas asked. “Absolutely.
“Dwyane said something along the lines of that being ‘premature’ and ‘we’re not there yet,’ and that is accurate,” Thomas continued.
However Wade, who was in China last month doing an endorsement tour, might not get an opportunity to play in the CBA. ESPN.com’s Marc Stein previously reported that the league is considering banning NBA players from signing in the CBA during a work stoppage.
Of course, that makes little sense for the CBA. Nobody wants to lose a star player like Wade during the middle of the season—a possibility if the NBA and players’ union put together a new collective bargaining agreement—but don’t the benefits of having NBA All-Stars, albeit briefly, outweigh the negatives of losing your best player in the middle of a title run?
Frankly, the 16-year-old league needs as much talent as it can get when it can get it. Remember when the MLS was courting David Beckham? The Los Angeles Galaxy and Adidas were eager to bring the English star stateside, but salary cap restrictions made that impossible. Not wanting to turn away the biggest name in league history, the MLS created exemptions while Adidas subsidized some of Beckham’s income, and suddenly America had its first soccer superstar since Pele.
Is China willing to make the same effort? And, more importantly, is Wade ready to make that effort for his endorsement deals? If the answer is ‘Yes,’ expect to see another of the NBA’s brightest stars hit the road during the lockout.
Searching for Shabazz
Shabazz Muhammad is supposedly a big talent. We all read stories about the Las Vegas native, but who really knows how good he is until he plays an actual NCAA game?
Sure, the measurables are nice. He’s 6-6, 215 pounds and ESPN has him ranked as the third-best prospect in the Class of 2012. Even more intriguing, Muhammad is a lefty who can get to the hoop and has a reliable jumper within 15 feet. He’s not a 3-point shooter yet and it’s rare when any 17-year-old is actually a good defender, but those are things that can certainly change if he lands with the right program.
And what is the “right program” for Muhammad?
Dave Telep of ESPN.com writes that we won’t know that answer anytime soon. So far the list includes UCLA, Duke, Kentucky, UNLV, Memphis, Texas A&M and Kansas—which Telep says is a “slight newbie” for Muhammad.
However Telep doesn’t hesitate to say that UCLA, Duke and UNLV are at the top of his list.
“I’ll definitely take five visits,” Muhammad told Telep, “but I don’t know about signing in the early period. If I’m unsure between two schools, I’d probably wait it out and see what school really wants me and which one to go to. If I really knew what college I was going to, I could make the decision right now.”
Perhaps Ben Howland and UCLA would be the best for Muhammad, as that choice would probably give him the best defensive fundamentals heading into the NBA. Duke obviously is a top program, but even Mike Krzyzewski doesn’t have a laundry list of defensive stoppers like Howland does: Arron Afflalo, Russell Westbrook, Luc Mbah a Moute and Jrue Holiday.
Of course, that’s not always what players base these decisions on. Muhammad is from the area, so UNLV will remain a serious possibility, even if it can’t offer the same level of competition that UCLA and Duke can.
Check Out: Steve Aschburner and the ABA
Back in 1976 the ABA was in its final death throes. The San Diego Sails and the Utah Stars bit the dust within the first 16 games of the season, and after the Nuggets, Nets, Pacers and Spurs were chosen to merge with the NBA, a dispersal draft was held to divvy up the remaining players among the NBA teams.
As Steve Aschburner wrote for NBA.com, that didn’t sit well with Kentucky Colonels star center Artis Gilmore.
“I was upset,” he said. “I loved playing in Louisville.”
The players were each given a price tag (Gilmore’s was $1.1 million while Marvin Barnes, Moses Malone and Maurice Lucas were given price tags of $500,000; $350,000 and $300,000 respectively) and one of the all-time greatest talent grabs was underway.
After the Bulls drafted Gilmore again (they also took him in 1971, but failed to sign him), the Blazers landed Lucas and Malone—who was later traded to Buffalo for a draft pick that became Mychal Thompson, Klay’s father—while the Pistons drafted Barnes.
Author Terry Pluto wrote that of the 84 active ABA players at the time of the merger, 63 made their way onto an NBA floor in the 1976-1977 season. The NBA would still struggle to regain its popularity from the 60s for another few seasons, but when it did, it would be more popular than ever before. For anyone who wants to know a unique piece of basketball history, please give this story a read.