Despite his short stay in Memphis Grizzlies training camp, Josh Akognon is still regarded in worldwide basketball circles as one of the most accomplished long-range shooters out there.
So it comes as little surprise that Akognon, whose great success as a high-scoring guard in China put him on the NBA's radar in the first place, is now heading back to China after the Grizzlies quickly decided in October that he didn't have a spot in their backcourt rotation.
Sources told ESPN.com on Friday that Akognon has struck a deal to join the Qingdao Eagles, who employed Tracy McGrady in what turned out to be his swan-song season before T-Mac joined the Spurs in April for their playoff push. The Grizzlies acquired Akognon in July, claiming him off waivers from Dallas when the Mavericks were forced to release him in a salary-cap scramble to create enough room to sign Monta Ellis.
Returning to China, as opposed to another country with more of an NBA-length schedule, also means Akognon will be back in the States in the spring with fellow Cal State Fullerton backcourt alumnus Bobby Brown in search of a new NBA employer via the 10-day route. Brown, last season's Euroleague scoring champion with Montepaschi Siena in Italy, is coming off a 40-point game for the DongGuan Leopards, having opted to sign in China for good guaranteed money after summer negotiations with the Knicks.
NBA teams can start signing players to 10-day contracts on Jan. 6. One of the strongest lures for Americans to go to China, on top of the generally good compensation, is the ability to come home after the season ends in March to pursue late-season NBA jobs -- something that isn't possible if you go to Spain or Turkey or pretty much any other country.