Interesting times are afoot in the Shanghai Sharks front office as it stares at the possibility of its starting center Zhang Zhaoxu leaving the team now his contract has expired and the two parties haven’t reached agreement on a new deal.
There is real momentum within the Chinese media that both the Beijing Ducks and the Xinjiang Tigers are making overtures towards the mobile 7″3 big man. The Tigers will be needing a replacement for aging cult hero Menke Bateer whilst the side from the capital would like a useful big to throw on the floor when Randolph Morris isn’t in the game.
This puts the Shark in a difficult position give that Biejing and Xinjiang are rumoured to be willing to offer him a salary going into the high six figures. Zhang was largely a disappointment this year despite a solid end to the season; Daniel Pannagio kept him on the bench for the first few weeks of the year and he had several games where he was hesitant and indecisive on both ends of the court. However, current man at the helm, Wang Qun doesn’t appear to have much confidence in Taiwanese big Tseng Wen-ting, who often was Zhang’s back-up (and whom Panaggio played at the five for the first few games of the 2012/13 season). Tseng’s minutes noticeably decreased after Wang took over after the second-year CBA player forced himself onto the All-Star ballot at the start of the year.
The choice for the Sharks front office is now whether to overpay Zhang after an unsatisfactory season or potentially watch a player that was in the Chinese national team for the London Olympics walk away without having a clear replacement. Zhang is not from Shanghai so has no family ties to the city and will definitely view this as a chance to get paid. It may well be the case that Shanghai are looking to bring in an overseas center next year but even then, the loss of a young big who when switched on can be a top ten player at his position would be a sizeable loss in the long term.
Edit: Jon Pastuzek has the exact numbers over at Niubball. Beijing would potentially offer Zhang five-million RMB ($800,000) and Xinjiang would give eight million ($1.3m). Wow.