(Reuters) - Two-times NBA scoring champion Tracy McGrady has denied money was a factor in his decision to join the Qingdao Eagles in the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA).
“I played 15 years in the NBA,” the CBA’s highest-profile import told the China Daily newspaper. “I made a lot of money. No, money has nothing to do with it.”
McGrady, who played alongside Yao Ming for the Houston Rockets for six years from 2004-10, will reportedly become the biggest earner in the CBA on an estimated $800,000 per year.
The seven-times All-Star has already impressed his new employers with his work ethic and professionalism in practice and maintained he was fully committed to the Eagles.
“I am not going back to the NBA,” said the 33-year-old McGrady, coming off a career-low season averaging 5.3 points in just 16 minutes with the Atlanta Hawks.
”I retired from the NBA. CBA is it. It’s a process you have to go through before you make a decision like this.
”Your family has to be comfortable with your decision, because it’s going to be a long season and I will not be able to be there with them.
”We have Christmas coming up and they will only stay for Christmas, which is kind of between the season, so it’s great.
“It’s a great opportunity for me and for my family as well. They haven’t been over here, so it gives them a chance to see another part of the world. It has a very different culture.”
The CBA has seen several former NBA players join in recent seasons, with former New York Knicks guard Stephon Marbury its greatest success story.
The 35-year-old Marbury, who also had spells in Boston and Phoenix, led the Beijing Ducks to the CBA title earlier this year.
Reporting by Alastair Himmer in Tokyo; Editing by John O'Brien