Former No. 2 overall pick Hasheem Thabeet has signed a contract in Taiwan with the Hsinchu Lioneers, agent Jerry Dianis told Hoops Rumors.
Thabeet, who has made past NBA stops with Memphis, Houston, Portland and Oklahoma City, will head to Taiwan for the first time in his professional career. He garnered interest from multiple teams in Europe and Asia in recent months, ultimately choosing the Lioneers for a larger playing role, Dianis said.
Thabeet, a 7’3″ shot-blocker who spent three seasons at UConn, believes he’s in the best physical and mental shape of his career. The 33-year-old veteran worked out for teams such as the Knicks, Nuggets, Bucks and Warriors as recently as last year.
“It’s an opportunity for him to play and do well on the international stage,” Dianis said. “Hasheem expects to dominate on both ends of the floor and is excited to help the team win. He’s been busting his ass and personnel across the NBA say he’s in great shape. He took this opportunity because he wants to play and show just how much he’s improved.
“Hasheem is an NBA player. He’s an elite shot-blocker because of his unique size, athleticism and insticts. After a dominant performance in Taiwan, he will have a plethora of new opportunities.”
Prior to signing in Taiwan, Thabeet signed a contract in the NBA G League last fall and was drafted in the first round by the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, the Pacers’ G League affiliate. The team concentrated on playing a small-ball brand of basketball in the weeks that followed, ultimately leading to Thabeet’s camp asking for a release.
In addition to being an effective rim-protector, Thabeet has improved offensively and is known for his leadership — Nets superstar Kevin Durant has previously stated that Thabeet was one of the best teammates he has ever had. The big man last appeared in an NBA game during the 2013/14 season when both players were with Oklahoma City.
Joining the Lioneers gives Thabeet a chance to prove his worth, with potential opportunities in China and the NBA still on the table down the road. The veteran center carries several years of experience and has played overseas before, holding a past stint in Japan during the 2017/18 season.