FORMER Houston Rockets forward Terrence Jones has signed one of the biggest single-season deals in Chinese basketball history after joining Qingdao Eagles on a contract worth US$2 million.
The 25-year-old, who last played in the National Basketball Association as recently as March, was understood to have been attracting interest to stay in the NBA.
But Jones, a first-round draft pick by the Rockets in 2012, has opted instead to head to China.
“I wanted to challenge myself and experience a new culture,” Jones told Uproxx.com. “The CBA is growing and lots of guys go over there and have success.
“I know there is a lot of opportunity in China and I just have to go out there with an open mind and be ready to contribute.”
Jones last season scored a career-high 36 points (with 11 rebounds) while playing for the New Orleans Pelicans against a Cleveland Cavaliers team including LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love.
He spent 2012-2016 with Houston, before moving on to New Orleans. He headed to Milwaukee Bucks but was waived after only one month with the team. He played three times for the Bucks, averaging two minutes per game, compared with his career NBA average of 24 minutes per game.
Qingdao have never made the CBA finals. Last season they finished 12th of the 20 sides in the regular season.
They did, however, make international headlines in 2012 when they signed NBA star Tracy McGrady on a one-year deal.
The challenge for Jones is not only to emulate McGrady, who averaged 25 points, 7.2 rebounds and 5.1 assists per game while with Qingdao in 2012-13.
He will also be looking to eventually find a way back to the NBA, much in the manner of Alan Williams. After going undrafted in the States, Williams spent a season with Qingdao, averaging 20.8 points and a league-leading 15.4 rebounds.
His performances in China alerted Phoenix Suns, where he last week signed a three-year contract extension after impressing at the end of the 2015-16 season and during the 2016-17 season.