After spending the past few seasons bouncing around to different NBA clubs, 33 year-old Tracy McGrady has found a new home in China. According to ESPN.com, the seven-time NBA All-Star has joined the Qingdao DoubleStar Eagles of the Chinese Basketball Association.
After spending last season with the Atlanta Hawks, McGrady failed to land an NBA contract this offseason, which led him to consider playing in China. After making it official on Wednesday, the exact terms of his one-year contract are unknown, but Chinese media outlets are reporting that the deal is worth at least $1 million.
While making the announcement on his blog, McGrady expressed excitement for his new journey and also gratitude for his long career in the NBA.
“The NBA was my University and I learned so much. The gratitude I feel is really immeasurable. I have experienced the best moments a player can experience and have had some dark ones too. Both equally important in helping shape me into the man I am today,” McGrady said on his website.
The transition appears that it won’t be a difficult one for McGrady. As Yao Ming’s teammate for several years in Houston, McGrady established a loyal fan base in Ming’s home country. According to The Wall Street Journal, McGrady had the 4th best-selling jersey in China during his last full season with the Rockets in 2008-2009.
“I have been to China several times in the last few years and I love the people and the country,” McGrady wrote on his blog. “It will be an honor to play for them.”
McGrady isn’t the first former NBA star to make the move to the Far East. Stephon Marbury joined the Beijing Ducks in 2010 and led the franchise to its first-ever CBA title last season. Qingdao has never appeared in the CBA finals, but with the addition of McGrady, the franchise already has high expectations.
“What we value about him is his experience and technique,” Eagles GM Sheng Xishun told The Wall Street Journal. “We hope he can help the team move up to a leading spot in the CBA, the way Marbury did.”
NBA fans will surely be sad to see him go, but it appears a new group of fans are ready to embrace him. McGrady is expected to join Qingdao on Oct.24 or Oct. 25.