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Dakari Johnson Signs Deal to Play in China


Dakari Johnson is heading to China. (Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports)

Former Kentucky center Dakari Johnson has signed a deal to play for the Qingdao Eagles in China, according to the Jinan Times.

Johnson has spent the previous three season as a project prospect with the Oklahoma City Thunder. Following the signing of Nerlens Noel made by the Thunder in early July, the team traded Johnson to the Orlando Magic on July 20. Three days later, Johnson would once again be traded, this time to the Memphis Grizzlies. Little over a week after that, the big man’s contract would be stretched and he was subsequently waived by the Grizzlies

Instead of trying to force his way back onto an NBA roster as training camp waits around the corner, Johnson will head overseas to play in China (these overseas contracts are typically more lucrative than the minimum contract he would have likely received if another NBA team did decide to sign him).

The Qingdao Eagles finished the 2017-18 season with a record of 11-27, fifth worst out of 20 possible teams, and they did not make the CBA (Chinese Basketball Association) playoffs.

An interesting note about the Eagles: they happen to be the team that Hall-of-Fame player Tracy McGrady played one season for during the 2012-13 season. McGrady, who averaged 25 points for the Eagles in that lone season, is the only player whose number has been retired by the team.

Johnson spent the majority of his first two seasons in the G League but found his way onto the court 31 times last year for the Thunder, including six starts. He averaged 1.8 points and 1.1 rebounds in 5.2 minutes of action per game. His best performance was a nine-point outing in 23 minutes against the Los Angeles Clippers (which did also include five personal fouls).

Johnson, 22, was the 48th overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft.

Article written by Zack Geoghegan

Covering all things NBA. Follow me on Twitter: @ZackGeoghegan

One response to “Dakari Johnson Signs Deal to Play in China”

  1. FlatTopsAndBlockedShots

    Never should’ve entered the draft in 2015. A year of development at UK is far better than a year in the d-league. Had he stayed another year he would’ve been a mid first round pick. Georgios Papagiannis who was drafted the year after in 2016 was a lesser rated prospect with a lower ceiling, he went 13th overall. Stay in school or make 35k a year (now it’s 44k).

    Additionally the 2015-16 team would’ve been so much better if he stayed, they were really missing interior rebounding which is something he excels at.