Fujian Sturgeons, meet your thirty-four year stretch-forward. Fujian fans, say hello to another year of mediocrity. Very rarely does a signing of an overseas player omit such a feeling of ‘meh’ but this acquisition truly screams a front office with nothing more than the ambition to lose a lot of games.
So yes, poor Al Harrington is basically headed off to one of the laziest franchises in the CBA. He’ll spend a lot of time playing power forward, stretching the floor and giving young superstar Wang Zhelin the space to get busy in the paint. He’ll get 18/8/4 without too much hassle and maybe land a minimum deal to run with an NBA team once his deal runs out in 2015. Er, and that’s it, basically.
Now this might be somewhat negative but to recap, this is the Fujian Sturgeons. Continuity is not a strong point of the team. In 2011, they rode their three foreign players to a first round play off exit. The next year, with the team only able to have two foreigners, they were awful. They did though realize they had lucked into Wang, arguably one of Chinese basketball’s best young centers, and kept the turnstiles rolling by continually feeding the teenage big man the ball as their season crumbled around them. When 2013 rolled along, the Sturgeons, who had finished in the bottom five the previous year and were again allowed a third foreigner, tried to ride their overseas guys to a play-off spot only for things to implode. This season, as a result of not finishing in the bottom five, the Sturgeons seem destined to suck and ensure next year, they once again finish in the bottom five.
So back to Harrington, who finds himself in a bad position. The Fujian bench is still dire and beyond Wang, there is little in the way of offensive weaponry that also has a Chinese passport. Zhou Tailong regressed somewhat last season but might return as a better shooter in his fourth year in the league whilst Zhou Qixin is a streaky swingman that can’t hit the three. Other than that, it’s very bleak. For onlookers into the CBA, it underlines the boom and bust cycles of local teams; be bad, load up on foreign players and make a run into the play-offs. Be very bad the following year with two foreigners and perhaps even give the extra playing time to a young Chinese player who might be able to contribute the season after once the team has been reinforced by a third foreign player. Rinse, repeat.
So basically its Wang (who has maybe two years left of being Fujian’s cash cow before he makes a run at the NBA), Harrington playing second fiddle and getting his numbers, an as-of yet unnamed point guard and then praying that one of the Zhou’s gets hot. Understandably, fans are sounding annoyed on Sina and Sohu, rightly pointing out that although the frontcourt looks nice, couldn’t they have got younger and healthier at that position? But of course, that would mean the Sturgeons would have had to show ambition- which they don’t. Listen Al, Fujian’s supposedly a really nice place to get dinner; I guess there’s all that great fish and soup to look forward too over the next six months…