Free agent forward Tracy McGrady signed a contract to play basketball this year, but it won’t be in the NBA.
The seven-time All-Star has agreed to a one-year contract to play with the Qingdao DoubleStar Eagles this season.
After 15 seasons in the NBA, McGrady was not offered a contract in the offseason by an NBA franchise and has decided to play in China. The decision to play in China could signal the end of McGrady’s NBA career.
At least it sounded that way after a blog post by McGrady.
“I consider myself a student of the game as I have watched, studied and played with and against the best players in the world,” McGrady stated in the post. “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 has posted a 15-year career with six teams including the Toronto Raptors, Orlando Magic, Houston Rockets, New York Knicks, Detroit Pistons and Atlanta Hawks. The 6-foot-8 forward has a career average of 19.6 points, 5.6 rebounds and 4.4 assists a game.
McGrady was part of the era that saw many high school players make the jump straight to the NBA. He was drafted ninth overall in the 1997 NBA Draft by the Raptors, but saw little time on the court as a rookie.
He saw more playing time off the bench in the next two seasons and parlayed his opportunity into a big contract with the Magic. The homecoming for the Auburndale product wasn’t as successful as Orlando had hoped.
Instead of being paired with forward Grant Hill to lead the Magic back to the NBA Finals, McGrady had to carry the team himself after a chronic ankle injury all but sidelined Hill for his tenure in Orlando.
With little help, McGrady struggled in the playoffs and failed to get Orlando out of the first round.
McGrady was traded to Houston after the 2003-04 season to be paired with star center Yao Ming. The duo struggled to stay on the court together as well and also couldn’t make it out of the first round in the playoffs.
After five tumultuous seasons in Houston, McGrady was traded to the Knicks and the decline of his NBA career was evident. He played one season apiece for the Pistons and the Hawks, but was only a shell of the player that displayed nightly highlight reel performances.
McGrady’s career will most likely be remembered for his playoff failures, but there is no doubt that he was a scoring machine and one of the most exciting players to ever hit the NBA hardwood.