At least two teams in the Chinese league CBA have targeted Taiwan forward Tien Lei and reportedly offer a minimum monthly wage of US$20,000 (approximately NT$660,000), Liberty Times reported Friday.
It is the second time in this past month that Chinese team are targeting Taiwanese players following a recruiting offer for Taiwan Beer forward Lin Chih-chieh, who was offered to play in China for US$10,000 per month.
Tien Lei's father confirmed the offer, which Tien Lei said is too tempting to turn down. "I don't think anyone who's been approached (to play in China) would say no, " Tien was quoted by the Liberty Times as saying.
According to Liberty Times, a number of team representatives contacted Tien Lei during the Asian Championship in Tianjin, where Tien averaged 10.8 points and 5.8 rebounds and helped Taiwan to a 5th place finish.
In addition to the monthly salary offer, Chinese representatives also promised to deal with Tien Lei's buyout clause with Dacin Tigers, one of seven teams in the Taiwanese league SBL.
However, Tien, Lin or anyone else will not be able to play overseas before the CTBA (Chinese Taipei Basketball Association) makes clear its policy.
Fearing that the potential exodus of top Taiwanese players will hollow out the domestic league, CTBA announced a "24-man protection list" last June after a circulating rumor saying that Chen Hsin-an would leave Taiwan and play in the CBA for a one-year contract that worth NT$6 million.
The list included 24 national team players and top Taiwanese players, including Tien, Lin, Chen Hsin-an, Tseng Wen-ting and Wu Tai-hao. Protected players were prohibited to play overseas within 12 months.
CTBA deputy secretary-general Wang Jen-sheng told the media the protection period has expired, which means it's possible for Taiwanese players to sign with Chinese teams in the second half of year 2009.
Dacin manager Wang Tsai-hsiang, son of Dacin owner and CTBA president Wang Jen-da, said that Xinjiang Flying Tigers expressed interests in signing the 6-7 lanky forward two years ago. Dacin and Tien eventually turned down the offer because Tien was rehabbing at the time.
"In fact Tien's salaries in China and Taiwan are about the same because Dacin players received a guaranteed 14-month annual salary plus the bonuses , while Chinese teams only pay their players during the 4-month season, " Wang explained, saying that Tien Lei is expected to earn around NT$ 2.58 million in Taiwan and NT$ 2.64 million in China.
Wang Jen-da has called a CTBA meeting on September 17 to make a final decision about the matter, LT reported. The LT reporter wrote that the exodus looks like imminent if CTBA fails to establish a plan which focuses on SBL's long-term development.