If Rashad McCants is looking to get out of the D-League, he can cross China off as one his potential escape routes.
Contrary to a report released yesterday by ESPN.com, former NBA lottery pick, Rashad McCants, who is currently under contract with the NBA D-League’s Texas Legends, will not be signing a contract with a Chinese team after Liaoning Panpan — the only team in the league who had not signed its full allotment of import players as of last night — has officially signed swingman Donta Smith to a contract, according to multiple sources with NiuBBall.com.
Sources in both China and the United States confirmed to NiuBBall.com that Liaoning had been negotiating a deal to bring McCants to northeastern China for the upcoming season, but with the season opener only two days away, the club opted instead to play it conservative by going with the more familiar Smith, who has been in the country with the team since earlier this week on a try-out. Though the team had serious interest in McCants, the fact that Smith was physically present with the club was a major reason why the Hunters, nervous about signing another import in time for their first game on Sunday, came to their final decision.
A source also shared that in addition to Smith already being in the country, Liaoning feels comfortable investing in someone who has already played a full season in China. Smith played with Shanxi Zhongyu in 2008-09 and part of 2009-10 before he was waived mid-season to make room for Bonzi Wells.
Besides their familiarity with Smith, economics appears to have also contributed to Liaoning’s decision to go away from McCants and his $45,000 buyout clause, which would have had to be paid in order to release him from his contract with the Legends. When combined with the large salary the team would have had to pay him, the price tag for McCants was simply too high.
Smith was drafted in the second round by the Atlanta Hawks in the 2004 and spent three years in the NBA before playing domestically in the D-League and abroad in Belgium, Australia, China and Venezuela among other countries.
Liaoning’s other import this year is center Chris Richard, who played last year with the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Other late import transactions to report: Tianjin has released Trevor Lawrence and signed Lee Benson, according to Sina Sports. The 37 year-old Benson has played previously with Yunnan, Shaanxi and Shanxi.