Technically it was Earl Clark, not Wilson Chandler, who signed in China first this offseason. The Denver Nuggets' wing was the first to sign in China following the Chinese Basketball Association's decision to not allow any opt-outs, however, so credit from yours truly is going to Chandler for the most recent exodus of players taking their talents to the CBA.
Before we get to that, however, let's catch everyone up on the Chinese basketball landscape. China ruled last month that any player with a current NBA contract isn't eligible to sign in the CBA. Additionally, Asia's top basketball league isn't allowing any sort of opt-outs in its contracts so that players can return stateside once the NBA lockout is over, seemingly further complicating the league's ability to vulture NBA talent this offseason. That hasn't turned out as poorly as I originally thought, however, as Jon Pastuszek explained over the holiday weekend.
Pastuszek noted that along Clark, Chandler, Quincy Douby and Stephon Marbury, a few more players with either NBA on their résumé or the skills to eventually make it in the world's top league have recently signed in China.
Charles Gaines, formerly of the D-League between training camp stops with the San Antonio Spurs and Milwaukee Bucks, is returning to China for a third straight season. Gaines earned leading scorer honors last season by averaging 33.7 points to go along with 13.5 rebounds and will now be handsomely paid -- to the tune of a reported $80,000 per month -- to replicate those statistics with Shanxi.
The Shandong Flaming Bulls are probably going to win both the Team Name Of The Year and the Imports I've Long Been Impressed With Of The Year awards after signing Alan Anderson and Othello Hunter as its American duo for the upcoming season. Anderson was the best scorer in the D-League last season before returning to Europe while Hunter impressed me as a member of the Denver Nuggets' Summer League squad last year.
Last, but not least, NiuBBall is reporting that Josh Powell is officially heading to Asia as a member of Liaoning. If nothing else, I believe he's an upgrade over the team's import from last season when the Panpan Dinosaurs employed Chris Richard.
There are still a fair amount of good jobs in China waiting to be filled, too, so this is probably just the beginning of what should be an interesting season for the CBA.