Former No. 2 overall pick Hasheem Thabeet has re-entered unrestricted free agency after a teammate in The Basketball Tournament tested positive for COVID-19 at the start of the month.
Thabeet, 33, was set to compete with the “Playing for Jimmy V” team during the annual tournament, but event rules mandate that any team who receives a positive test be disqualified from competing in the bracket any further. Thabeet tested negative for the coronavirus, a person with knowledge of the situation said.
Thabeet, a lengthy 7’3″ center, remains an intriguing option for teams in need of rim protection. He has received NBA and overseas interest over the past year, working out for teams such as the Knicks, Bucks, Nuggets and Warriors in 2019. The overall consensus remains the same regardless of the atmosphere he plays in: Thabeet appears to be in prime condition.
“Hasheem is in unbelievable shape,” Alex Neumann, the general manager of Playing for Jimmy V, told Hoops Rumors. “He looks better than he ever has. He still has his athleticism and got up and down the floor really well.
“His basketball IQ is off the charts. Just helping the young guys on the team, helping in film sessions and putting in offensive sets — he absolutely looks like he belongs on the NBA court.”
Thabeet was drafted second overall in 2009 after spending three years at UConn, and subsequently made NBA stops with Memphis, Houston, Portland, Oklahoma City and the L.A. Lakers. He was selected in the first round of the 2019 NBA G League Draft to Fort Wayne after spending some time overseas.
Along with his shot-blocking abilities, Thabeet is known for being a respected locker room veteran — Nets superstar Kevin Durant previously stated that Thabeet was one of the best teammates he has ever had. Teams in need of rim protection entering the NBA’s campus in Orlando or training camp later this fall could turn to Thabeet, who is staying active and is eagerly anticipating his next opportunity.
“What I can bring to a team right now is a defensive aspect in the paint,” Thabeet told Hoops Rumors. “You have to know your role. I believe I can bring in defensive plays at a high level.
“I’m ready to control the paint and get back to playing at a high level of basketball. I really believe I can still play at a high level once I get that one chance, then we’ll go from there.”
The 2019/20 NBA season is scheduled to resume on July 30, with free agency set to start in mid-October and training camps for next season tentatively expected to commence by the start of December. Teams in Orlando are eligible to sign substitute players to their rosters in the event that a player contracts COVID-19 or voluntarily opts out.