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Chinese team still wants to sign Iverson

Marc J. Spears
Yahoo Sports
Chinese team still wants to sign Iverson
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Allen Iverson was offered $4 million to play in China this season

At least one team in China's pro basketball league hasn't given up hope of luring Allen Iverson(notes) to play this season.

Iverson recently turned down a one-year contract paying about $4 million from the Foshan Dragons of the Chinese Basketball Association because he wanted a higher salary. New Foshan coach and former NBA player Jay Humphries told Yahoo! Sports in a phone interview the franchise is holding a roster spot open for Iverson in case he changes his mind. While Humphries doesn't expect the team's financial offer to change much, he thinks Iverson could make more money off the court in China like Stephon Marbury(notes) did last season.

''He has to want to do it to make it work,'' said Humphries, who coached the NBA Development League's Reno franchise last season. ''There is some positive energy here for him to carry on his basketball career and other business interests. As a coach or a player, you have to go where you're wanted, where they are excited about having you, where there are no skeptics.

''Being an NBA player of his caliber, it can be hard to make the adjustment. But with his popularity in China and his ability to make money off the court in a country of this size, it can present an opportunity not available in the States.''

Iverson starred in the NBA for 14 seasons, but he's now 35 and spent time on four different teams that past two years. With training camps opening next week, no NBA team seems interested in signing him.

Humphries said Foshan management has continued to speak with Iverson's agent, Leon Rose, and Humphries hopes to eventually speak with Iverson.

''I would like to let him know about my experiences,'' Humphries said. ''I don't know if he's spent time here.''

Iverson remains among the most popular NBA players in China. His jersey ranked eighth among the top sellers in China two seasons ago, and he would command more attention than Marbury, who filled CBA arenas and was named the MVP of the league's all-star game. Humphries also thinks Iverson's transition would be eased because he'd have an American coach. Humphries signed a three-year contract and plans to hire an American assistant coach, trainer and strength-and-conditioning coach.

The Foshan Dragons are a new team in the Chinese Basketball Association. More than one million people live in the city proper, located in southern China. Humphries says the Dragons plan on putting two Americans with NBA experience on its roster.

The contract offer made by Foshan is expected to be much more lucrative than any potential NBA deal Iverson might receive. CBA teams play two or three games a week, which could be beneficial to Iverson at his age.

''Allen comes behind only Kobe Bryant(notes) and Yao Ming(notes) in popularity here,'' Humphries said. ''He's wanted in this country.''

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