10:16am: Cole drew some NBA interest from the Cavs, Nuggets, and Suns, but no team was willing to offer him more than the minimum, according to Sam Amico of AmicoHoops.net, who adds that Cole’s deal in China is believed to be worth about $5MM.
8:56am: Norris Cole is headed overseas for the coming season, according to Emiliano Carchia of Sportando, who passes along a report from Zhang Duo (Twitter link). International basketball reporter David Pick confirms (via Twitter) that Cole has signed with the Shandong Golden Stars of the Chinese Basketball Association, per the guard’s agent.
Cole, who turns 28 this month, appeared in 45 games for the Pelicans last season, starting 23 of them. He set new career highs with 10.6 PPG, 3.7 APG, and 3.4 RPG, though his FG% (.405) and 3PT% (.324) were a little below his career marks. Before joining the Pelicans, the former first-round pick had spent three and a half seasons in Miami with the Heat.
A recent report suggested that Cole was drawing interest from Cleveland as the team considered adding point guard depth, but the Cavs ultimately decided to add Toney Douglas, perhaps prompting Cole to accept an offer elsewhere.
By signing with Shandong, Cole will be joining the team that signed NBA free agent Jason Thompson earlier in the offseason. According to Sam Amico of AmicoHoops.net (via Twitter), Cole’s deal is believed to have an NBA out. The Chinese regular season typically ends in February, with the playoffs wrapping up in March, so assuming Cole didn’t sign a multiyear pact – which seems like a safe bet – he should have the opportunity to return to the NBA before the end of the 2016/17 campaign.