Even in the event of an extended NBA lockout, don't look for Tracy McGrady to wind up playing in China this season.
There's a fresh report in circulation that a deal is "in the works" to land McGrady with Foshan of the Chinese Basketball Association. Such links come as little surprise given the immense popularity McGrady still commands in China after his years in Houston playing alongside Yao Ming. It'd naturally be a coup for any team in the CBA to sign him.
A source with knowledge of McGrady's thinking insisted Tuesday to ESPN.com that he's "not playing in China this year no matter what people read."
McGrady, 32, is home awaiting the end of the lockout after averaging 8.0 points, 3.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 23.4 minutes in 72 games in a bounce-back season in 2010-11 for the Detroit Pistons. After completing a one-year deal with Detroit, T-Mac will be a free agent if we ever get to an active offseason in the NBA ... at which point we'll find out if he's played his way back onto the radar of contenders.
New rules in China forbid CBA teams from pursuing any players with an existing NBA contract or offering an NBA out in any new contract. That means the four NBA veterans under contract with Chinese teams as of this summer -- Nuggets alumni Wilson Chandler, J.R. Smith and Kenyon Martin and former Hawks forward Josh Powell -- will not be eligible to return to the NBA until the Chinese season ends in March.
The only apparent loophole is the ability of the Chinese teams to willing release a player, as seen recently when Zhejiang Guangsha let former Orlando Magic forward Earl Clark out of his contract for "personal reasons" last week.