There’s always China. That seems to be the new refrain from players – both young and not-so-young – who are struggling to secure their place in the league. Plenty of former and would-be NBA stars have resuscitated or jump-started their careers there, most notably Stephon Marbury, who’s become something of a folk hero after leading his Beijing Ducks to several Chinese Basketball Association championships over the past few years.
Tracy McGrady, likewise, found new life in the twilight of his career with the Qingdao Eagles, who are set to retire his jersey there. Now, it’s looking more and more like three-time dunk champion Nate Robinson is seriously considering the CBA as his best last option after he failed to secure an invitation to an NBA training camp next month. Via David Pick of Basketball Insiders:
Despite his small stature, Robinson has been one of the most explosive point guards in the league for the past decade or so. The Seattle native was a member of the Boston Celtics 2008 championship team and was an absolute spark-plug for the Chicago Bulls during the 2013 playoffs when he stepped up for an injured Derrick Rose. In Game 4 of the Bulls’ opening round series against the Brooklyn Nets that year, Robinson single-handedly saved the game for Chicago, scoring 34 points in a triple-overtime win, including 12 straight points in the fourth quarter to lead a huge comeback.
His play for the Bulls that season earned him a multi-year contract offer from the Denver Nuggets in the summer of 2013, but Robinson tore his ACL the following January and has never been the same since. The Nuggets traded him to the Celtics at the beginning of this year, but he was immediately waived. Clippers coach and G.M. Doc Rivers ended up signing Robinson to a 10-day contract late in the season but ultimately let him go prior to the postseason.
It remains to be seen whether Robinson has anything left in the tank to eventually work his way back to the NBA. At the Seattle Pro-Am this summer, he showed a few brief flashes of his former self but mostly looked listless and out of shape. A stint in the CBA might be just what the doctor ordered to get him back in game shape and potentially attract the attention of a few NBA teams that could use some scoring punch off the bench.
(via David Pick)