Originally written on recycl3r.com  |  Last updated 3/9/13

The Chinese Basketball Association has become a fallback option for many professional basketball players who want to continue their career. The CBA has developed into a very competitive league and many former NBA players have taken their talents to East Asia to star on one of its 17 teams.

This season, Tracy McGrady, Gilbert Arenas and Eddy Curry were among the players that signed with a CBA team. Now, with the CBA regular season concluded, these players are looking to return to the NBA and sign contracts for the remainder of the season. These players are unrestricted free agents and have until April 17, the final day of the NBA regular season, to sign with a team and be playoff eligible.

Several players have already returned from China and signed with an NBA team. The Boston Celtics signed Terrence Williams (Guangdong Southern Tigers), Shavlik Randolph (Foshan Long Lions) and D.J. White (Shanghai Sharks) to 10-day contracts. Williams was eventually signed to a multi-year deal.

McGrady is the biggest name returning from China, where he averaged 25 points, 7.2 rebounds and 5.1 assists in 29 games. McGrady was treated like a rock star in the CBA. He quickly became a fan favorite and his team, the Qingdao Eagles, sold out every away arena. Even though McGrady had individual success, Qingdao finished with the worst record in the CBA at 8-24. Now, McGrady is back in the United States and hoping to join an NBA team for the remainder of the season. He recently attended a Houston Rockets game and sat courtside with team officials, but Houston has a full roster after signing Aaron Brooks. McGrady’s last stint in the NBA was with the Atlanta Hawks, where he averaged 5.3 points, 3.0 rebounds and 2.1 assists in 52 games off of Atlanta’s bench. The 33-year-old may have to sign a 10-day contract and prove his value to a team, which is something he hasn’t been willing to do in the past.

Arenas’ stint in China didn’t go so well. While he was successful when he took the court for the Shanghai Sharks – averaging 20.7 points, 7.3 rebounds and 3.0 assists – he only appeared in 14 games. The 30-year-old wasn’t even the most productive player on his team; that designation goes to D.J. White, which is why he landed a contract with the Celtics as soon as he returned to the United States. The 30-year-old Arenas has been a shell of himself in recent seasons. During his stint with the Memphis Grizzlies during the 2011-12 season, Arenas averaged just 4.2 points, 1.1 assists and 1.1 rebounds in 17 games off of Memphis’ bench. Arenas spent last offseason working out in Los Angeles and vowing to make an NBA comeback, but he didn’t receive any interest from NBA teams prior to the start of the season. Now, he’s hoping that a team with a depleted backcourt will take a shot on him, just as Memphis did last March.

Curry may be the most intriguing player returning to the United States. While in China, Curry averaged 23 points and 10.1 boards in 29.6 minutes for Zhejiang Chouzhou Bank. The 30-year-old Curry led the team to the postseason. Now, Curry is back in the United States and has already received inquiries from a number of NBA teams. Prior to signing in China, Curry had successful stints with the San Antonio Spurs and Dallas Mavericks this season. The odds of Curry landing on an NBA roster are higher than McGrady or Arenas, mainly because teams are already showing interest and he had offers earlier in the season unlike the two veteran guards. Teams are always looking to add a big man to their roster and bolster their frontcourt for the postseason, so don’t be surprised if Curry gets a contract before April 17.

Other former NBA players who can return to the United State are Al Thornton (27.4 points and 9.5 rebounds for the Zhejiang Guangsha Lions), Quincy Douby (31.6 points, 4.4 assists and 3.7 rebounds for the Zhejiang Chouzhou Bank), Gary Forbes (28.4 points, 7.8 rebounds and 4.6 assists for the Zhejiang Guangsha Lions), Lester Hudson (27.5 points, 6.6 rebounds and 4.5 assists for the Dongguan Leopards) and Sundiata Gaines (19.1 points, 6.8 rebounds and 4.7 assists for the Fujian Quanzhou Bank) among others. Players such as Stephon Marbury (Beijing Ducks), Yi Jianlian (Guangdong Tigers) and Pooh Jeter (Shandong Bulls) are still competing in the CBA playoffs. 

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