The Cairns Taipans will have a new import in their squad tonight after the NBL club released Fuquan Edwin from his contract in a surprise move yesterday, announcing former Milwaukee Buck’s NBA player Tony Mitchell as his replacement.
Last minute import replacements have been a hot topic in the NBL as of late and Mitchell’s arrival will happen just in time to qualify him for the playoffs.
NBL rulings state that players are required to suit up in at least 25 percent of regular season games prior to the playoffs and with the Taipans having only 8 games remaining, today is the last day that Cairns could add another player and have them qualify.
Cairns have described Edwin’s released as a move done to allow Fuquan time to take care of “private” and “personal” things. The timing of the move, however, has raised eyebrows that this was simply a move to improve Snakes roster as they sit perilously close to the being eliminated from playoff contention.
“People will draw a line between performance and what has happened, but if we were making a decision based on performance with Fu, this would have happened earlier.” Taipans boss Mark Beecroft said last night.
It is interesting to note that when Cairns announced Edwin’s signing in August coach Aaron Fearne highlighted a number of areas they needed Edwin to deliver.
“Obviously with Nate (Jawai) being the focal point for us in the paint we need guys around him who can make plays from the perimeter,” Fearne said.
“Fuquan will definitely have his foot on the pedal from an offensive point of view. He’s aggressive as a scorer, which we will need.
Edwin’s inability to deliver more than 8 points per game this season certainly doesn’t sound like having “his foot on the pedal”, especially since that would see him currently scoring less than 18 other imports who have played in the NBL this season.
No matter whether personal matters or production led to Edwin leaving the team, it seems any concerns about Mitchell delivering on the offensive end are not required.
NBL fans all over social media were commenting on the 42.9 points per game Mitchell averaged whilst playing for Chinese NBL team Hebei Xianglan, a season which included a 76-point game over Beijing.
Fans should note that the Chinese NBL is the second-tier league in China, sitting below the CBA which features Tianjiin Ronggang Gold Lions and the Zhejian Golden Bulls, both teams who participated in Australian Basketball Challenge during the NBL pre-season and were sounded beaten by more than 60 points by NBL teams.
But still I say scoring 76 points in any league is a heck of a feat, and NBL teams would be silly to sleep on 27-year-old Mitchell either.
In addition to the NBA and the D-League he has played in the Spanish ACB league, Russia’s VTB league and the Eurocup for various teams over the past 12 months and these leagues would be three of the toughest basketball leagues outside of the NBA, so he has the credentials to do well in Cairns.
The 198-centimetre small forward played for the University of Alabama (2009-2012) before playing three games for the Milwaukee Bucks on a 10-day contract shortly after.
At the very least Mitchell is sure to at least provided a couple of “oohs and ahhs” for the fans in Far North Queensland while he is here, the Georgia native was also the NBA D-League Slam Dunk Champion in 2013 and 2014.
With the Cairns Taipans heading to Perth with a record of 9-11 tonight, Mitchell will need to deliver quickly to ensure the Taipans keep their playoff hopes alive.
Tip-Off time is 9.30pm tonight,