Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Go west, young men?

Chen Hsin-an's intention to play in China has become the hottest issue in Taiwanese basketball this past week as it stirred up heated discussion among fans on the current Taiwanese basketball environment. And the CTBA's response, a sanction on 24 local players prohibiting them to play for overseas clubs, didn't help either.

To maintain the competition level of the domestic league, the statement said, twenty four players will be listed on a "protection list" which will be released on an annual basis. The players on the list are not allowed to play overseas.

Individual players, however, will be screened by a CTBA committee after submitting their application to play for foreign clubs. The permission, once granted, allows a maximum one year's time and will have to be renewed every year.

The decision infuriated Chen and many fans. And it's easy to know why. Chen stressed that the CTBA is not entitled to block his right to play for anyone while most fans would like to see Chen play in a more competitive league.

Playing in China, where most NBA teams sent their scouts year round to observe talents, will provide an opportunity, regardless of how slim it is, for him to be seen. Which might lead to a chance to play in the NBA, said Chen.

Anyway, I think a lot of people missed the point here. Last I checked, Chen is still under contract with Yulon. Word is that he has two and a half years left on his contract. If Chen leaves Yulon, it will be the second time he leaves the team in the middle of his contract.

About two years ago, Chen also intended to leave Yulon and sign with ETSN for a much higher salary. Surprisingly, Yulon didn't say a word. However Chen failed to reach an agreement with ETSN and rejoined Yulon.

I don't really understand what is happening here. Fans and some newspapers said all the good thing about a player who has breached his contract not once but twice?

True, the CTBA has no right to keep players from signing with foreign clubs as long as these players are free agents. But it is also true that no basketball federation would love to see an exodus of the local players. It has gone too far with the 24-player sanction list, but it's not difficult to understand its concern that players of Chen's caliber opt to play in China either.

The reported offer of Chen's annual salary of 1.5M RMB (220,000 USD) looks overestimated because that's more than Wang Zhizhi's salary. And I doubt that Chen is willing to buy out his contract with 8M NT (260,000 USD) as no one wants to buy out his contrct for 10 dollars and go make eight dollars in China. It's a simple math. And it doesn't make sense to me at all.

What's interesting was that Chen said in a China Times interview which was published today that his objective is not playing in China but to point out the stagnant environment of Taiwanese basketball.

An Apple Daily story reported yesterday that Chen is still on NBA scouts' watch list. The story, which I thikn is very questionable, said that Chen is on the watch list of scouts from Milwaukee Bucks and Charlotte Bobcats but did not cite any source in the story.

Anyway, when all is said and done, Chen is staying with Yulon for now.