More giants join Wang’s NBA club


DALLAS, AP

The Dallas Mavericks have signed two centers, ensuring they will have size in the front court even if mainland China’s Wang Zhizhi does not return to the National Basketball Association club.

The Dallas Morning News reported Wednesday that 7-foot-6 Shawn Bradley and 6-foot-11 Evan Eschmeyer have inked deals with the Mavericks, who lost free agent center Calvin Booth to Seattle last week.

“That was quite a shock when we lost Calvin,” Mavericks coach Don Nelson said. “It got us scrambling around. We had to change our priorities in what we were going to do and who we were going to sign.”

Bradley, 29, was reportedly given a seven-year deal worth more than US$30 million and Eschmeyer signed a six-year deal. The New Jersey Nets have 15 days to match the Eschmeyer offer but likely will not after signing Canadian center Todd MacCullouch away from NBA finalist Philadelphia.

There is some concern about the return of Wang, who will miss the early part of next season with commitments to the Chinese national team and whose NBA status depends on continued approval from the Chinese government.

Wang became the first Chinese player in NBA history last April when he joined the Mavericks. The move could pave the way for another talented Chinese center, Yao Ming, to enter the league at a later time.

Bradley was third in the NBA last season with 2.8 blocks a game, but averaged a career low 7.1 points and 7.4 rebounds last season, his fourth full campaign with Dallas after coming over in a trade from New Jersey.

Eschmeyer averaged 3.4 points and 5.0 rebounds in his second season with New Jersey.