This has been a very busy summer for former UNC basketball players. Following the NBA Draft, we saw rookies attempt to earn roster spots in the summer league, G-League players try to move up the ranks, and NBA veterans such as Vince Carter move to new NBA teams. Following some movements in free-agency and contract signings, it looks like there will be at least one former UNC player taking his talents to China.
On Tuesday, CBS Sports reported that Tyler Hansbrough signed a deal to play with the Guangzhou Lions in the China Basketball League. Hansbrough spent the past year in the NBA G-League (formerly known as the D-League) with the Fort Wayne Army Ants where he averaged 17.6 points and 12.2 rebounds per game.
Hansbrough has had a rather quiet NBA career since he was drafted 12th over all by the Indiana Pacers. After a few mediocre years with Indiana, Tyler Hansbrough spent time with the Toronto Raptors before playing a year for the Charlotte Hornets. Hansbrough averaged 6.7 points and 4.7 points in his NBA career, never really being able to truly make a name for himself in the Association. There is some doubt that he will find his way back into the NBA, as he was never able to develop a consistent jump shot which has become a more and more valuable need for NBA big men.
Perhaps the more interesting situation this offseason with UNC alumni is the situation with another player from the 2009 class, Ty Lawson. On Tuesday, a video was released of Lawson announcing that he was waiting for his agent to look over the contract to sign with the Shanxi Dragons (also part of the CBL).
Kings free-agent PG Ty Lawson reached agreement to sign in China with Luis Scola and the Shanxi Dragons. pic.twitter.com/ERpx9mYUvH— David Pick (@IAmDPick) July 18, 2017
While his situation seemed like a done deal, more information later came out from Lawson’s agent Larry Fox:
“Several teams have expressed interest in Ty from China and there have been discussions and Ty has expressed mutual interest.
“In addition, several NBA teams are interested in Ty, Ty is weighing his options and no decision has yet been made.”
Ty Lawson later took to twitter, confirming that no contract has been signed yet with the Dragons.
I haven't signed in China!!!!!— Ty Lawson (@TyLawson3) July 18, 2017
Lawson spent most of his career with the Denver Nuggets, where he spent his first five years as an NBA player. Since then, Lawson has had one-year stints with the Houston Rockets, Indiana Pacers, and most recently, the Sacramento Kings. Coming off of a season where he averaged 9.9 points and 4.8 assists per-game, Sacramento decided to go into rebuild mode and let go of quite a few veteran players after picking up four promising rookies in the NBA Draft, including former Kentucky star D’Aaron Fox and Justin Jackson.
While Lawson hasn’t quite been the player that he was when he arrived in the NBA, he still has enough to offer an NBA roster to where he may be staying in the US. Out of point guards from this past year, Lawson ranked 23rd in offensive efficiency topping notable players like Zach Lavine, Ramon Rondo and Tony Parker. Time will tell if a team is able to offer him the playing time, as well as the money that he is looking for to stick around in the NBA.