The Pelicans have extended a training-camp invitation to forward He Tianju of the Chinese Basketball Association’s Liaoning Flying Leopards, according to Justin Verrier of ESPN.com. Assuming the offer is accepted, the 6’9” Tianju would play in New Orleans’ two preseason Global Games matchups in China against the Rockets, Verrier adds (Twitter links).
Tianju, who has played six seasons in the Chinese Basketball League, is considered an above-average three-point shooter. The 25-year-old small forward also has a history with the Pelicans, having played on their summer-league squad in 2015. He had a nine-point game in 12 minutes of action in one of those Las Vegas Summer League games against the Bucks.
The Pelicans already have 15 players with guaranteed contracts on their roster, along with three others on non-guaranteed deals. So even if Tianju signs a training-camp deal, it’s highly unlikely the Pelicans will keep him around. But the bonus of playing two games in his home country would certainly be a major selling point.
Coach Alvin Gentry told John Reid of the New Orleans Times Picayune during Tianju’s summer-league foray that Tianju needed to improve his footwook.
”Defensively, he has got to be able to move his feet better to play the quicker players,” Gentry told Reid.”But I think he is smart enough and his rebounding is very good. I think he’s done a very good job on the boards. The only thing I see is his lateral quickness and guarding quicker players out on the floor.”