Sichuan Blue Whales to have 2 former NBA players on roster

haddadi-flynn-chinaLast month (September 2013), the CBA officially announced the promotion of the Sichuan Jinqiang Blue Whales to the Chinese Basketball Association, and will become the 18th team in the league.

The decision, which was officially announced on September 29th, ends what had been a long-time rumored end-result to the league’s expansion plans.

Dating as far back as summer 2012, the CBA had been evaluation expansion plans with the idea of promoting a team from the second-tier professional league, the National Basketball League.

For various reasons, those plans were put on hold and the once-in-a-few year opportunity for teams to rise up to the top professional level was carried over to 2013. Even then, it wouldn’t be until several months after the conclusion of the NBL season for a final decision to be announced.

So now Southwest China has a basketball team again, with addition of two former NBA players – Iranian Hamid Haddadi and american Johnny Flynn, along with another player Herve Lamizana and a new foreign head coach, J.T. Prada.

Johnny Flynn, the former sixth overall pick in the 2009 NBA Draft will join the team after spending one season in Australia’s National Basketball League with the Melbourne Tigers. The New York native had a very promising NBA career which saw him start out with the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Flynn spent three years in the NBA, having his career best season with Minnesota, playing in 81 games (81 started), averaging 13.5 ppg and 4.4 apg in 28.9 minutes of playing time. Career wise, Flynn played 163 NBA games (90 started), averaging 9.2 ppg and 3.9 apg in 22.9 minutes per game.

Hamid Haddadi, thus far, played in 6 NBA seasons, for Memphis Grizzlies and Phoenix Suns. He holds career averages of 2.2 ppg and 2.5 rpg in 151 NBA games. While he did not play much during his time in the NBA, the 28-year-old has proven how much of an offensive and defensive threat he can be during the FIBA Asia Basketball Championship as he helped his country win titles in 2007, 2009 and 2013.

Herve Lamizana, who played college ball at Rutgers and has represented the Ivory Coast national team on several occasions, is no stranger to the CBA, having played for the Shandong Gold Lions in 2006/07 and the Tianjin Golden Lions in 2010/11.

Similarly, new head coach Prada is not new to the CBA, either. Prada coached Fujian SBS for several seasons last decade, helping the team reach the playoffs three times and helping to lead what was the most successful period in the team’s nine-year history. Afterwards, he worked as a scout for the Minnesota Timberwolves.



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