Seven-time NBA all-star Tracy McGrady, seen here, will be heading east soon as the latest foreign import to try his luck in China’s increasingly popular domestic basketball league near the sunset of his career.
“There are times in life that a new road presents itself and it appears this time has come for me now,” McGrady, 33, said on his official website.
“As I enter this next chapter, I am excited to play for Qingdao Eagles in China,” said the entry posted on Tuesday.
Chinese media reports have put McGrady’s one-year contract at between $1-2 million.
A Qingdao DoubleStar Eagles official on Wednesday denied those reports but declined to give financial details.
The team plans to make an announcement soon but was waiting because the contract was still to be confirmed, general manager Sheng Xishun told AFP from China’s eastern city of Qingdao.
“There’s a minor part of the contract that needs to be confirmed… so we cannot make an official announcement,” he said.
Qingdao finished ninth last season in standings for the 17-team Chinese Basketball Association. The season is due to start in November.
McGrady is familiar to Chinese fans through his years playing alongside the now-retired Yao Ming — one of China’s most popular athletes — with the Houston Rockets.
“I have been to China several times in the last few years and I love the people and the country. It will be an honour to play for them,” he said in the post.
McGrady said he was proud of his accomplishments in his 15-year NBA career alongside the “best players in the world”. He played for several teams after entering the league at 18, including six seasons with the Rockets.
“I have experienced the best moments a player can experience and have had some dark ones too,” he said.
The 2.03-metre (6-foot, 8-inch) forward signed with the Atlanta Hawks as a free agent last year but apparently failed to reach a deal with a NBA team for the upcoming season.
McGrady’s confirmation of the pending move came as the reigning NBA champion Miami Heat are in China to play the Los Angeles Clippers in Beijing Thursday and in Shanghai on Sunday.
“It’s good for Tracy. It will be a good adventure for him at this point of his life,” Miami Heat forward Shane Battier, who played with both Yao and McGrady in Houston, told reporters while preparing for Thursday’s match.
“Obviously he wants to play and feels that he can still play at a high level, so it will be good. I know the Chinese fans appreciate Tracy because of his years with Yao and so I’m happy for him.”
McGrady is the latest of several NBA players who have sought to revive their flagging careers in China.
Former NBA superstar Stephon Marbury led the Beijing Ducks to their first-ever Chinese championship last season.
Marbury, a two-time NBA All-Star, has reinvented himself since arriving in China in 2009 following a tumultuous 13-year NBA career that saw talent on the court but often boorish behaviour off it.